End Peak from Treble Cone Ski Field, Wānaka NZ

Get a leg up on this climb to End Peak (2100m) from Treble Cone Ski Field, with great views of Lake Wānaka & the Harris Mountains backcountry.

End Peak (2100m) offers grand views of Lake Wānaka to the east, and over the Harris Mountains backcountry to the west. If you had to climb it from the bottom it would be a real slog, but thankfully you can get a leg up starting at Treble Cone Ski Field (~1260m). Once the steep climb onto the ridge is finished, it’s then fairly easy ridge travel all the way to the summit, with great views the whole way. Lake Wānaka is always there, but views of a heart shaped tarn are an added bonus for reaching the summit.  Continue reading “End Peak from Treble Cone Ski Field, Wānaka NZ”

Mt Dewar – Skippers Road Loop, Queenstown NZ

Excellent views of the Wakatipu Basin, Richardson Mountains and Skippers backcountry on this loop over Mt Dewar & back via Skippers Road.

I had first visited Mt Dewar on the Devils Creek Circuit some years ago, and wasn’t so impressed by the views on that day. Well, what a difference some good lighting makes! This time the views were awesome, including south over the Wakatipu Basin, and north over the Skippers Backcountry and Richardson Mountains. So I can in fact recommend either of these two walks 🙂 Continue reading “Mt Dewar – Skippers Road Loop, Queenstown NZ”

Mt Hanley from Moke Lake, Queenstown NZ

Lots of scrambling, exposure and tricky route finding on the way up Mt Hanley from Moke Lake, along Williamson Spur.

On a previous occasion we’d set off for Mt Hanley and made it only part way up Williamson Spur, turning back in less than ideal weather. There was already some scrambling and exposure going that far, but climbing all the way to the summit involved quite a bit more, and ended up being the scariest walk I’ve done to date! It didn’t help that my wife Sophia pulled out that morning and I went by myself. I probably shouldn’t have. This walk is best done with somebody else, and anybody who tries it will need to be comfortable with scrambling and exposure. The views are good, particularly when there are shadows highlighting the many ridges on the surrounding hillsides (which I didn’t really have in mid summer). Continue reading “Mt Hanley from Moke Lake, Queenstown NZ”

Flat Top Hill Circuit, Alexandra NZ

A fairly unique circuit walk through the rocky and arid Central Otago landscape of Flat Top Hill, with excellent views of Roxburgh Gorge.

On Christmas Day 2022 we decided to chase the best of the weather and head out to Alexandra for the first time in years, doing a circuit walk in Flat Top Hill Conservation Area. It’s a unique rocky and arid landscape punctuated by the aqua colour of the dammed Clutha River in Roxburgh Gorge. You can do a roughly 13km circuit as we did, but a shorter version following just the Basin View Track is enough to see the best scenery in the area. Continue reading “Flat Top Hill Circuit, Alexandra NZ”

Mt Scott from Crown Saddle, Pisa Conservation Area, Otago NZ

A simple off-track walk up to the summit of Mt Scott (1363m) from the Crown Range Road, for views of the Pisa Conservation Area.

The off-track route up Mt Scott (1363m) from the highest point on the Crown Range Road is a quick way to get views over the Pisa Conservation Area and down into the Wakatipu Basin. It can also be extended all the way to Crown Peak, which would in fact be the quickest way to get up this mountain. (We’ve climbed it from Arrowtown and also from further down the Crown Range Road). Continue reading “Mt Scott from Crown Saddle, Pisa Conservation Area, Otago NZ”

Best Day-walks in Central Otago

A selection of my favourite day-walks in the Central Otago District, featuring wide open spaces, golden tussock grass, & arid alpine plateaus.

Central Otago, or just Central to locals, is New Zealand’s frontier land. Famous for wide open spaces with rolling hills of golden tussock grass, its gold mining and rural history, and for extremes of temperature. The topography is a lot less defined than the Southern Alps to the west, but Central Otago has a stark and barren aesthetic of its own. And being away from the popular centres of Queenstown and Wānaka, we seldom see other walkers on our tramps.

Continue reading “Best Day-walks in Central Otago”

Chain Hills Circuit, Lindis Valley, Otago NZ

A circuit through the Chain Hills for front and centre views of one of Central Otago’s most attractive mountain ranges, the St Bathans Range.

After first seeing the St Bathans Range with a bit of snow on it I had always wanted to visit and see them up close. So it was after plenty of snowfall that we headed out to a walk in the Chain Hills for front and centre views of this classic Central Otago scene. In snow the walk was scenic up on the tops, and felt quite remote for a day-walk of just moderate difficulty. And you can make a circuit of it by taking the Shilmar, Chain Hills and Long Acre Tracks. Continue reading “Chain Hills Circuit, Lindis Valley, Otago NZ”

Double Peak from Lindis Pass, Otago / Canterbury NZ

A short but steep climb to Double Peak (1323m) for spectacular views over the Lindis Pass Scenic Reserve, on the Otago/Canterbury border.

The Lindis Pass Scenic Reserve is a particularly attractive area of tussock covered mountains bisected by state highway 8.  If you have driven between Otago and Canterbury along this route then you may have stopped at the Lindis Pass viewpoint for a quick look. This is already very nice, but to supercharge your views then invest around 1.5 hours heading up to Double Peak (1323m). Continue reading “Double Peak from Lindis Pass, Otago / Canterbury NZ”

Bush Creek Track, Arrowtown NZ

A very pleasant and easy walk at Arrowtown up the Bush Creek Track through a gorge as far as a saddle, where there are views over the Wakatipu Basin.

I’d done part of the Bush Creek Track a few months earlier on a loop taking in Brow Peak, and quite liked that section. So on a clear Autumn day we returned to do the whole thing, and I was pleasantly surprised. The walk offers a wide variety of native and non-native vegetation along the pleasant Bush Creek, which eventually passes through a gorge on its way to a saddle, where there are good views over the Wakatipu Basin. I liked the open aspect of the upper sections, and the rugged cliffs lining the gorge. There are also nice stands of beech forest and some autumn colours early on in the walk courtesy of introduced trees. Continue reading “Bush Creek Track, Arrowtown NZ”

Devils Creek Track to Mt Kinaki, Bendigo Conservation Area, Central Otago NZ

Central Otago at its finest on the Devils Creek Track to Mt Kinaki (1309m). Arid, rocky landscapes including the deeply cut Devils Creek as a highlight.

Many day-walks in Central Otago are let down somewhat by a long walk in weedy farmland to get to a conservation area, and then before you know it, it’s time to return. On paper the walk up Devils Creek Track to Mt Kinaki (1309m) is just this kind of walk, although I thought the topography of Devils Creek held some promise. Well, I ended up enjoying this walk from start to finish. In perfect mid-autumn conditions the colours were just lovely, including the weeds, and the rocky slopes of the Dunstan Range were otherworldy. But it was Devils Creek itself that stole the show – a fabulously deep cut, arid and rocky valley that I think earns its devilish name. You also get views back towards Lake Dunstan and the 1963m Pisa Range. Continue reading “Devils Creek Track to Mt Kinaki, Bendigo Conservation Area, Central Otago NZ”