Mt Fox Route to 1646m, West Coast NZ

Grandstand views of New Zealand’s highest peaks from a vantage point at 1646m above Mt Fox on the West Coast.

The ridge above Mt Fox offers grandstand views of the Fox Glacier and Southern Alps Kā Tiritiri o te Moanna, but only if you have the right weather. On this occasion we learned from past experience and chose to camp high on the mountain to give ourselves the best chance of views. These came the following morning, with just enough time to reach our planned vantage point at 1646m before the cloud rolled back in. Our reward for this planning and a lot of hard work were panoramic views of New Zealand’s highest mountains, on this occasion after unseasonable snowfall. One of the grandest vistas we’ve seen to date.

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Mt Pfeifer and Pfeifer Bivvy, Arthur’s Pass National Park, West Coast NZ

Stay overnight in Pfeifer Bivvy, and get exceptional views from the summit of nearby Mt Pfeifer (1704m), on the West Coast side of Arthur’s Pass National Park.

Billed as a lesser visited site, the increasingly popular Pfeifer Bivvy and Mt Pfeifer offer exceptional views deep into Arthur’s Pass National Park. Only the very fit would manage this in a day, so for most it will be quite a hard slog with full pack to stay in the hut or camp nearby. A side trip to summit Mt Pfeifer is well worth it. You’re likely to summit the mountain later in the day, or else early the next, and so the 360 degree views will be enhance by the angled light. Enjoy :-) Continue reading “Mt Pfeifer and Pfeifer Bivvy, Arthur’s Pass National Park, West Coast NZ”

Mt Griffin via Wilson Knob, West Coast NZ

The best of West Coast scenery on this challenging but always rewarding trip to Mt Griffin (1517m) via Wilson Knob.

I don’t think there’s anywhere quite like the West Coast for rugged landscapes, lush vegetation, and entirely unpredictable weather! Not to mention gnarly terrain. We averaged about one kilometre per hour on this two-day trip to Mt Griffin over Wilson Knob, and we’re no slouches. But you will be rewarded by the very best West Coast landscapes, including rugged and heavily vegetated ridgelines stretching for miles, lumps of land looking like islands in a sea of cloud, and all kinds of handsome plants along the way.

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The Apprentice from Lewis Pass, Canterbury/West Coast NZ

An extension of the popular Lewis Tops Route to climb The Apprentice (1678m), with grand views in all directions.

My second time up onto the Lewis Tops, but this time in late winter, and with an extension to climb The Apprentice (1678m). Great views of Mt Technical, the Maruia River, One Mile Creek, and various glacier carved mountain ranges all around. Snow enhanced the scenery except for the frozen tarns, which arguably look nicer in liquid form. Continue reading “The Apprentice from Lewis Pass, Canterbury/West Coast NZ”

Nikau Palm Walk, Kōhaihai, West Coast NZ

The short Nikau Palm Walk starts on the Heaphy Track next to the Kōhaihai River, and passes through lush rainforest & groves of nikau palms.

If you want a very short walk at the West Coast end of the Heaphy Track then consider this short loop through native forest – the Nikau Palm Walk. The forest is very attractive, and as the name suggests, there are many nikau palms, New Zealand’s only native palm. You cross the Kōhaihai River at the start and views up and down this are also very nice.

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Heaphy Track to Big Rock Beach & Swan Burn, Kahurangi National Park, West Coast NZ

A very attractive coastal section of the multi-day Heaphy Track, taking in many highlights of West Coast scenery in just half a day.

I was keen to see some quintessential West Coast scenery when we visited the Coast’s northernmost town of Karamea for the first time. A four kilometre section of the multiday Heaphy Track offers just that: a selection of nikau palm lined beaches, lush rainforest and river scenery. The brochures suggest the hour long walk to Scotts Beach as a short day-walk, but continuing on to Big Rock Beach and Swanburn Bridge provides better scenery for not much more effort. I was especially impressed with the nikau palms besides Big Rock Beach, and dense bush lining the Swan Burn (River). Continue reading “Heaphy Track to Big Rock Beach & Swan Burn, Kahurangi National Park, West Coast NZ”

Buckland Peaks Track, Paparoa National Park, West Coast NZ

Exceptional views over the Paparoa Range from the Buckland Peaks. Stay at the hut or camp out to give yourself more time to explore the tops.

I’d come across the Buckland Peaks Track while looking over topo maps, and it looked like a doozy. With a two day weather window and some mid week leave planned, my wife Sophia and I headed over to the West Coast and spent a night camping up on the Buckland Peaks tops. The views are exceptional, and with a decent sized plateau to wander around you can get numerous perspectives on peaks in the Paparoa Range, views inland, and views up and down the coast. Continue reading “Buckland Peaks Track, Paparoa National Park, West Coast NZ”

Mt Brown Hut & Summit, Lake Kaniere Scenic Reserve, West Coast NZ

Mt Brown (1270m) is a spectacular West Coast destination for an overnighter, with grand views of mountain ranges, Lake Kaniere and the coast.

Mt Brown Hut is considered one of the very best locations of any accessible backcountry hut in New Zealand. With a decent weather window one weekend it was time for me to embark on my first ever overnight tramp and check it out. The steep 1000m climb up through beautiful West Coast forest is hard work but rewarding. Once above the tree-line the epic views begin to unfold, with Lake Kaniere and the coast to the east, and numerous mountain ranges to the north south and west. We visited the nearby unnamed summit of Mt Brown (1210m) for extra views; that took about 1 1/4 hours return. The views were an obvious highlight, but the forest was unusually beautiful as well, so if you don’t get the views I think you’ll still enjoy the walk. 

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Brewster Glacier & Point 2023m, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ

Magnificent views on this long day walk to Brewster Glacier, its terminal lakes, and an unnamed peak at 2023m.

I had visited Brewster Hut twice before, and on one of those occasions I went beyond the hut for views east. For some reason though I had not seriously considered visiting Brewster Glacier and its terminal lake, though I know now that this is the main prize for day-walkers in the area. The proximity of the hut means quite a few others will join you, but we got some solitude by also visiting the unnamed peak at 2023m, between Mt Brewster (2516m) and Mt Armstrong (2174m). It’s a high quality walk from start to finish, with beautiful beech forest, lovely alpine flowers in summer, and spectacular and ever changing views for as long as you are above the bushline. Continue reading “Brewster Glacier & Point 2023m, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ”

Best Day-Tramps around Hanmer Springs, Lewis Pass & Reefton

Spectacular and varied tramping on this selection of day-hikes around Hanmer Springs, Lewis Pass & Reefton.

There are mountains galore to the north and west of the resort town of Hanmer Springs, with two quite contrasting landscapes on offer. Directly to the north of town are dry and sometimes barren landscapes characterised by colourful heath plants, tussock and scree. There are a few tracks to choose from, but many more choose-your-own adventures, as the country is pretty open. Further west towards Lewis Pass and on to Reefton is a wetter landscape of forested valleys and grassy, sometimes rugged peaks. The tarns are often a highlight of these walks.

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