Sentinel Peak ascent, Lake Hawea, Otago NZ

Sitting almost 1500m above Lakes Hawea & Wanaka, Sentinel Peak (1814m) is a big day out with 360 degree views of the lakes & surrounding peaks.

Some years ago we did a shortish walk to Sawyer Burn Hut, starting at the Kidds Bush Reserve campsite. I had read at that time it was possible to keep going upwards to climb Sentinel Peak (1814m), however we weren’t experienced at off-track tramping so it remained on the wish list. We finally got around to doing this walk four years later, and it was very satisfying. There are views of various mountain peaks, rugged slopes, and both Lake Hawea and Lake Wanaka. One of the highlights for me was the very attractive summit – both looking at it, and the views from it. This is a walk for the more adventurous hiker, as there is some navigation required, and a couple of places with mild exposure. Nothing too serious though – we’re no mountaineers! Continue reading “Sentinel Peak ascent, Lake Hawea, Otago NZ”

Breast Hill Route, Lake Hawea, Otago NZ

One of the better walks near Wanaka, rugged Breast Hill (1578m) provides views of Lake Hawea and mountains in all directions.

I first learnt of the track to Breast Hill (1578m) from an Instagram follower who used to live in Wanaka. It was his favourite day walk in the area, and I came across another blogger who rated it highly, so I had to give it a go. It is indeed an excellent walk, especially once you hit the ridge, and then again when you get out of sometimes smelly farmland and into Hawea Conservation Park.  There are great views of Lake Hawea the whole way, of golden tussock grass hills, and of the steep rugged slopes of Breast Hill itself, as well as various mountain peaks all around. Continue reading “Breast Hill Route, Lake Hawea, Otago NZ”

Blue Pools Walk, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ

An easy 3km walk to green-blue waters on the Blue Pools Walk in Mt Aspiring National Park, just off the Haast Pass Highway.

When driving from the West Coast to Queenstown I had wanted to stop off and do a short walk to stretch my legs, and the Blue Pools Walk fit the bill. It’s a stroll through mainly beech forest to a couple of swing bridges, the second of which provides views up a gorge filled with blue-green coloured water. These are the so called Blue Pools, although it’s really Blue River, a tributary of the Makarora River. You can drop down to the river bed at the confluence of the two rivers for a different perspective. Continue reading “Blue Pools Walk, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ”

Grandview Mountain Track, Lake Hawea, Otago

One thousand metres of ascent and descent along a vehicle track to the summit of Grandview Mountain provides good views of nearby rugged country, and then extensive views over Lake Hawea and distant high peaks.

On entering New Zealand in March 2020 we were soon hit with increasingly severe restrictions due to the Covid 19 epidemic. Before the complete lock-down we snuck in a final hike to the summit of Grandview Mountain at the southern end of Lake Hawea, a new walk for us. The views from the top were indeed grand, although I most liked the views of rugged country we passed by along the way in the Grandview Creek Conservation Area. Continue reading “Grandview Mountain Track, Lake Hawea, Otago”

Roys Peak Track, Wanaka NZ

Fabulous views over Lake Wanaka are a highlight of this walk up Roys Peak. Just expect to be joined by a few hundred others in peak season!

Roys Peak has become a favourite destination for Instagrammers, attracted by the prospect of epic views over Lake Wanaka. The views are really excellent, but as a hike it can be lack lustre, as at least half of it is through unattractive pasture, and it’s along a vehicle trail the whole way. Still, on a clear day it’s worth joining the crowds of walkers making their way either to the summit, or else to that particular spot about two thirds of the way up where you get a picture of yourself or your friend backed by the best bit of Lake Wanaka.  Continue reading “Roys Peak Track, Wanaka NZ”

Sawyer Burn Hut Track, Hawea Conservation Park, Otago NZ

Great views of lake Hawea and surrounding peaks on this walk starting at Kidds Bush campground, not too far from Wanaka.

Although a very nice walk, this hike to Sawyer Burn Hut was most memorable for the chance encounter with a completely nude hiker. (Well, he was wearing hiking boots). Alas, it was a somewhat portly middle aged man, but he did make quite an impression. Presuming you won’t meet any such person, you can instead expect to remember nice beech forest, great views of lake Hawea, and views of high peaks towards the end of the track. Continue reading “Sawyer Burn Hut Track, Hawea Conservation Park, Otago NZ”

Camerons Flat to Glacier Burn, East Matukituki Valley, near Wanaka NZ

The walk from Cameron’s Flat to the Glacier Burn crosses pasture and then enters beech forest, eventually stopping at the burn (stream) with views of Avalanche Glacier.

The East Matukituki Valley is about an hour’s drive from Wanaka, and is less well known than its neighbour, the West Matukituki Valley. The initial walk from Cameron’s Flat crosses featureless farmland, and doing this in full sun definitely took the gloss off this walk. Nevertheless, the views of the surrounding mountains are lovely, and the short section in beech forest to Glacier Burn is very picturesque. The views from the burn of Avalanche Glacier provide the money shot. Continue reading “Camerons Flat to Glacier Burn, East Matukituki Valley, near Wanaka NZ”

Isthmus Peak Track, Otago NZ

Two lakes for the price of one on the Isthmus Peak Track, with excellent views of both Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea on this somewhat similar walk to the now super famous Roys Peak Track.

The Isthmus Peak Track is a much less crowded alternative to the now super famous Roys Peak Track, although I’ve heard it’s getting more popular. There are excellent views of both Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea, and a good portion of the walk is on high ground in a conservation area. 

Continue reading “Isthmus Peak Track, Otago NZ”

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park near Wanaka

Access to close up views of the spectacular Rob Roy Glacier for only moderate effort on this popular walk in Mt Aspiring National Park near Wanaka.

The Rob Roy Glacier Track was one of the first walks we did in New Zealand, and provides access to excellent views of the Roy Roy Glacier. There are impressive waterfalls along the way, as well as picturesque scenes in the West Matukituki Valley. The drive in is also nice, so there’s lots to recommend this walk. 

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
On the drive in.

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
Matukituki River West Branch on the drive in.

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park

Nevertheless, friends who walked this with us in 2014 preferred the Routeburn Track to Flats Hut. But the views at the end of this walk are pretty spectacular, so I think it’s worth doing for those alone. It’s a fairly popular track so consider doing it on a weekday or out of season.  Track notes at the end.

Rob Roy Glacier Track: The Scenery

We did this walk in 2008, 2012 and 2014, so I’ve included pictures from each of those occasions. Don’t be confused by the apparent change of weather conditions.

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
The trusty Landcruiser at the start. Apparently there have been thefts at this car park, so they recommend you take your valuables with you.

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
Crossing the Matukituki River West Branch.
Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
Matukituki River West Branch
Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
Matukituki River West Branch

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
We had friends with us in 2014.
Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
Sophia having a rest.
Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
West Matukituki Valley.

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
Some sense of scale in this shot.
Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
A 261m drop on this waterfall.
Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
The 261m high waterfall unofficially named Bridal Veil Falls. (A lot of waterfalls have that name it seems).
Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
Bridal Veil Falls (in 2008).
Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
Rob Roy Glacier
Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
A close up of the glacier.
Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
Sophia backed by the glacier.

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
Lots of waterfalls running off the glacier.
Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
This kea looks like it is posing for a portrait painting.
Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
Kea close up.

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
I want what you’re having.
Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
Warm, lush colours.
Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
Different colours in 2008.
Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
On the way back.

Track Notes

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
An obvious track the whole way.

The DOC website has basic information on the walk. It’s about an hour from Wanaka, and over 2 hours from Queenstown. There’s a few streams to ford on the drive in so they recommend a four wheel drive if there’s been heavy rain (or maybe snow melt?).