Cloudy Peak ascent, Central Otago NZ

A great sample of Central Otago’s unique scenery on this long and relatively unknown walk to the summit of Cloudy Peak (1526m), north-east of Cromwell.

Cloudy Peak ascent, Otago NZ

Quintessential Central Otago scenery on this long walk to the summit of Cloudy Peak (1526m), not far from Cromwell. Once you begin the ascent onto higher ground there are great views of golden tussocked and wrinkly hills and valleys, contrasted with flat-as-a-pancake plains in the distance, and from the summit you have partial views of the attractive St Bathans Range.

On the downside, much of the walk is through pasture, and that made for some smelly walking through knee-deep sheep shit. Okay, maybe not knee deep, but there was bit more of it than was ideal, ideal being none. Very photogenic though, as I hope you’ll agree, and I decided it just sneaks in as a ‘spectacular/ recommended’ walk.

I don’t think it’s a well known walk, and we met nobody in 9 hours. Track notes at the end, and navigation was straightforward in good weather. 

Cloudy Peak ascent: The Scenery

Cloudy Peak ascent, Otago NZ
Walking through farmland is never a fun experience, but these horses were quite nice. The big one followed us for a while on the way back, which I found a bit unnerving. Gentle creature, but it could have kicked my head off if it wanted.
Cloudy Peak ascent, Otago NZ
Walking along Dry Creek, which did have some water in it further up, but at one spot it just disappeared into the ground.
Cloudy Peak ascent, Otago NZ
We walked through the territory of these two geese.
Cloudy Peak ascent, Otago NZ
Dry Creek and surrounding hills as we ascended onto the ridge.
Cloudy Peak ascent, Otago NZ
Looking back at the Pisa Range.
Cloudy Peak ascent, Otago NZ
Distant clouds and peaks.
Cloudy Peak ascent, Otago NZ
Gloomy looking peaks in the distant. We were lucky not to have any rain. These parts of Central Otago are pretty dry.
Cloudy Peak ascent, Otago NZ
Mt Pisa up there.

Cloudy Peak ascent, Otago NZ Cloudy Peak ascent, Otago NZ Cloudy Peak ascent, Otago NZ

Cloudy Peak ascent, Otago NZ
East of the Dunstan Mountains are flat plains.
Cloudy Peak ascent, Otago NZ
Sophia almost at the summit, which is off track and up the hill (to the right).
Cloudy Peak ascent, Otago NZ
Looking over towards the Pisa Range (left) from the summit.

Cloudy Peak ascent, Otago NZ Cloudy Peak ascent, Otago NZ

Cloudy Peak ascent, Otago NZ
High ground continued to the north of the summit.

Cloudy Peak ascent, Otago NZ

Cloudy Peak ascent, Otago NZ
The St Bathans Range at the back.

Cloudy Peak ascent, Otago NZ

Cloudy Peak ascent, Otago NZ
The snowy St Bathans Range. I was hoping for a better view of these attractive mountains but what I got made for a good photo I think.

Cloudy Peak ascent, Otago NZ

Cloudy Peak ascent, Otago NZ
Looking south down the Dunstan Mountains.
Cloudy Peak ascent, Otago NZ
The Pisa Range in the distance.
Cloudy Peak ascent, Otago NZ
Looking south down the Dunstan Mountains.

Cloudy Peak ascent, Otago NZ

Cloudy Peak ascent, Otago NZ
Looking back at the summit from a knoll just off track.
Cloudy Peak ascent, Otago NZ
Love the fluffy tussock and rocky and wrinkly hills in the distance. Nice textures.

Cloudy Peak ascent, Otago NZ

Cloudy Peak ascent, Otago NZ
Looking back at the summit of Cloudy Peak (1526m) in afternoon light.
Cloudy Peak ascent, Otago NZ
My cousin thought these looked like dinosaur feet. Good imagination 🙂
Cloudy Peak ascent, Otago NZ
The track passes along an undulating ridge for a fair portion of the walk. Was nice except for the animal poo (sheep I guess).
Cloudy Peak ascent, Otago NZ
Great contrast in lighting as we descended back towards the Clutha Plains, with a shadowy Pisa Range at the back.
Cloudy Peak ascent, Otago NZ
Looking towards the Clutha Plains and Pisa Range as we descended.
Cloudy Peak ascent, Otago NZ
Returning back to Dry Creek as the sun went down.

Track Notes

Information on the walk is available from the DOC website. At first you walk through a farm, crossing electric fences and over a few stiles. You then walk along dry creek, which is as the name suggests, and eventually rise up to a long ridgeline which continues until quite near the summit. At the final climb to the summit you finally leave pasture and enter the Neinei i kura conservation area. To visit the summit proper you have to go off track for just a short while. I think the estimates of walking time from the DOC are without the final ascent to the summit, so I would definitely allocate a full day to complete the walk.   

 

Author: Edward Hathway

I'm a clinical psychologist and keen hiker.

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