Godley Peak & Moorhouse Peak via Homestead Hill, Palmer Range, Canterbury NZ

A big walk to the two highest peaks in the Palmer Range, Godley Peak (2087m) & Moorhouse Peak (2025m). Scree and tussock in all directions.

Godley Peak & Moorhouse Peak via Homestead Hill, Palmer Range

I rather like the idea of climbing 2000m high peaks in a day, and the route to Godley Peak (2087m) offers this experience, plus you can bag a second, Moorehouse Peak (2025m), for just another kilometre of walking. The patchwork of colourful pink scree and golden tussock of the surrounding slopes is very attractive if you like that sort of thing. There are views of the Rakaia Valley for almost the whole walk, and there are higher peaks in the Main Divide not too far away.

It’s a steep ascent to the tops, and there’s an unpleasant section of bush bashing through spiky matagouri, so you’ll certainly earn your views. But it’s satisfyingly wild and stark country on the Palmer Range tops, and worth a visit if you have already done some of the more accessible walks in the foothills. Track notes at the end.

Other options to climb high peaks in the Canterbury Foothills

If you don’t mind the long approach to the base of Mt Taylor on the south-western side of these ranges, then this is probably a better walking experience. And another big walk to a high peak in the foothills, Mt Potts, may be the pick of the 2000m peaks that I’ve done so far (I’ve not done many!).

Godley Peak & Moorhouse Peak via Homestead Hill: The Scenery

Godley Peak & Moorhouse Peak via Homestead Hill, Palmer Range
The view from Homestead Hill (1130m). At this point the route enters a small patch of beech forest.
Godley Peak & Moorhouse Peak via Homestead Hill, Palmer Range
The route up, viewed from the edge of a small patch of beech forest the route passes through.

Godley Peak & Moorhouse Peak via Homestead Hill, Palmer Range

Godley Peak & Moorhouse Peak via Homestead Hill, Palmer Range
Nice sky on the way up. The Rakaia Valley down there, at the confluence of the Rakaia and Wilberforce Rivers.
Godley Peak & Moorhouse Peak via Homestead Hill, Palmer Range
A panorama north.
Godley Peak & Moorhouse Peak via Homestead Hill, Palmer Range
Sophia backed by the Southern Alps.
Godley Peak & Moorhouse Peak via Homestead Hill, Palmer Range
A very pink Smite Peak (2003) on the left. That’s on private land.

Godley Peak & Moorhouse Peak via Homestead Hill, Palmer Range

Godley Peak & Moorhouse Peak via Homestead Hill, Palmer Range
The beginnings of the Smite River Valley.
Godley Peak & Moorhouse Peak via Homestead Hill, Palmer Range
Godley Peak
Godley Peak & Moorhouse Peak via Homestead Hill, Palmer Range
Godley Peak centre right and nearby Moorhouse Peak further right.
Godley Peak & Moorhouse Peak via Homestead Hill, Palmer Range
Lots of scree to the west.
Godley Peak & Moorhouse Peak via Homestead Hill, Palmer Range
Godley Peak centre left, with Moorhouse Peak to the right.
Godley Peak & Moorhouse Peak via Homestead Hill, Palmer Range
I do like these smooth scree slopes. A bit moon like.

Godley Peak & Moorhouse Peak via Homestead Hill, Palmer Range Godley Peak & Moorhouse Peak via Homestead Hill, Palmer Range Godley Peak & Moorhouse Peak via Homestead Hill, Palmer Range

Godley Peak & Moorhouse Peak via Homestead Hill, Palmer Range
Looking up to point 2010m, which was the last bit of climbing before the flattish summit area.
Godley Peak & Moorhouse Peak via Homestead Hill, Palmer Range
There were a number of dainty alpine plants growing out of the scree.
Godley Peak & Moorhouse Peak via Homestead Hill, Palmer Range
Great colours looking south.
Godley Peak & Moorhouse Peak via Homestead Hill, Palmer Range
A panorama south.
Godley Peak & Moorhouse Peak via Homestead Hill, Palmer Range
The view north from the summit.
Godley Peak & Moorhouse Peak via Homestead Hill, Palmer Range
The route to Moorhouse Peak; the peak on the left in the mid ground. It took me about 45 minutes to get there and back but I was hurrying.
Godley Peak & Moorhouse Peak via Homestead Hill, Palmer Range
The view south, this time from Moorhouse Peak.
Godley Peak & Moorhouse Peak via Homestead Hill, Palmer Range
Godley Peak from Moorhouse Peak. I’ve included this pic mainly to prove I visited Moorhouse Peak!
Godley Peak & Moorhouse Peak via Homestead Hill, Palmer Range
Godley Peak from a small saddle on the ridge to Moorhouse Peak.
Godley Peak & Moorhouse Peak via Homestead Hill, Palmer Range
Sophia on the summit of Godley Peak (2087m).
Godley Peak & Moorhouse Peak via Homestead Hill, Palmer Range
Leaving the summit.
Godley Peak & Moorhouse Peak via Homestead Hill, Palmer Range
Descending from point 2010m.
Godley Peak & Moorhouse Peak via Homestead Hill, Palmer Range
Lumpy yellow tussock and pinkish scree slopes.
Godley Peak & Moorhouse Peak via Homestead Hill, Palmer Range
The afternoon sun was lighting the far mountains from behind cloud, leaving us in shadow.
Godley Peak & Moorhouse Peak via Homestead Hill, Palmer Range
The Rakaia Valley
Godley Peak & Moorhouse Peak via Homestead Hill, Palmer Range
The Rakaia Valley with Double Hill in the middle of the river flats.
Godley Peak & Moorhouse Peak via Homestead Hill, Palmer Range
Soft lighting as we descended.
Godley Peak & Moorhouse Peak via Homestead Hill, Palmer Range
It was a long day – about 9am to 8pm.

Track Notes

Godley Peak & Moorhouse Peak via Homestead Hill, Palmer Range
The route starts on the Homestead Hill Easement. It then moves into the conservation area, although you might need to stay on the fenceline in private land due to the matagouri scrub: this was an unpleasant part of the walk for us. Once out of the scrub it’s mostly tussock and shingle for the rest of the walk. A long day.

The walk starts off on the Homestead Hill easement, which, in summer at least, soon involved pushing steeply up through head high pasture grass. When you get to the conservation area boundary you’ll notice the matagouri scrub is thick as, but slightly less thick on the private land side of the fenceline.

We found the bush pretty much impenetrable in the conservation area. It seems walkers instead stick roughly to the fence on the private land side. Indistinct impact tracks wind their way steeply up through the matagouri, never straying far from the fence. Hopefully this is not an unreasonable incursion on private land. There is a way through, but you will inevitably get a face full of matagouri, and we found it to be quite unpleasant walking. After the bush thins out you can easily hop the fence into the conservation area at a few spots with reinforced wooden posts.

Once you are at Homestead Hill there is a short section of walking through beech forest, then it’s up steeply again all the way to the tops. After this it’s mostly flattish travel along a ridge, which becomes rocky towards point 1871m. The last steep climb is to point 2010m. From there Godley Peak is an easy walk through small boulder fields. I went on to Moorhouse Peak just to bag a second 2000m peak for the day. You can easily see the route from the summit of Godley Peak, and walking is entirely on scree/shingle.

I got the idea for this walk from Canterbury Foothills and Forests: A Walking and Tramping Guide. There are more options in the area including various multi-day adventures to be had.

Author: Edward Hathway

I'm a clinical psychologist and keen hiker.

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