Hawkdun Range Summit (point 1857m), Maniototo, Central Otago NZ

An excellent walk through tussock grass to the barren summit plateau of the Hawkdun Range (point 1857m), in the remote Maniototo region of Central Otago.

Hawkdun Range pt 1857m from Shepherds Hut Ck

An excellent walk to the top of the Hawkdun Range (1857m) in the remote Maniototo region of Central Otago, famous for its isolated vistas of golden tussock grass and mountains. The walk starts in the Manuherikia Valley, and after a flat start rises steeply up to the long and barren summit plateau of the Hawkdun Range: about 1100m of ascent and descent. Not as dramatic as the Southern Alps, but very atmospheric, and we had the place to ourselves. 

Track Notes

It was our first time in the region, which is a five hour round trip from Queenstown. The start of the walk is accessed on Home Hills Run Road, passing through a number of gates along the way.

Hawkdun Range pt 1857m from Shepherds Hut Ck
Blue arrow points out where we parked the car, and the red arrow points out the faint track down the spur. Sophia just visible bottom right of the photo. Falls Dam distant left.

We used track notes in Day Walks of New Zealand: Central Otago and Queenstown, but we leave this book in Queenstown, and I can’t find the exact walk on the internet. The picture above shows where we parked the car, which I think was next to Shepherds Hut Creek. You can also see the faint track on the spur, which eventually enters a rock field near the top.

We had to walk through tussock grass to meet the track, which was more obvious near the bottom of the spur. Climbing up the spur we passed by point 1334m on way to our end point at 1857m of elevation.

The Scenery

Hawkdun Range pt 1857m from Shepherds Hut Ck
Driving in, with the Hawkdun Range in front of us.
Hawkdun Range pt 1857m from Shepherds Hut Ck
The weather looked a bit ominous. Thankfully the patron saint of people who accidentally left their rain pants in Queenstown took pity on me, and restricted the onslaught to a shower plus a 10 minute hail storm, which hurt my face.
Hawkdun Range pt 1857m from Shepherds Hut Ck
Just after the hail storm. I thought I had come across some snow (bottom left), but it was in fact just accumulated hail. (The background is a bit overexposed on this shot; sorry).
Hawkdun Range pt 1857m from Shepherds Hut Ck
Interesting patterns on some rocks.
Hawkdun Range pt 1857m from Shepherds Hut Ck
Getting up there.
Hawkdun Range pt 1857m from Shepherds Hut Ck
You can see Sophia (centre left) approaching the summit though a rock field.
Hawkdun Range pt 1857m from Shepherds Hut Ck
I wonder, is a fence really necessary at 1850m? Who or what are they fencing off from where?
Hawkdun Range pt 1857m from Shepherds Hut Ck
Looking west over the St Bathans Range. These look much more impressive when viewed from the west, which I did in winter

Hawkdun Range pt 1857m from Shepherds Hut Ck

Hawkdun Range pt 1857m from Shepherds Hut Ck
The tops.
Hawkdun Range pt 1857m from Shepherds Hut Ck
A bit hard to capture, but lots of high country to the east. The clouds look very low.
Hawkdun Range pt 1857m from Shepherds Hut Ck
Sophia enjoying the novelty of snow. This at roughly 1857m of elevation.
Hawkdun Range pt 1857m from Shepherds Hut Ck
Me getting excited about a partially white Christmas (well, it was the 23rd, but close enough). They are hard to come by in the southern hemisphere.
Hawkdun Range pt 1857m from Shepherds Hut Ck
The ridge on the eastern side of the summit. We took our pictures in the snow on the left. Good job we didn’t venture too far because it drops away quickly.

Hawkdun Range pt 1857m from Shepherds Hut Ck

Hawkdun Range pt 1857m from Shepherds Hut Ck
Heading back down.
Hawkdun Range pt 1857m from Shepherds Hut Ck
Descending. Quite steep; it was pretty much a straight up and down walk.
Hawkdun Range pt 1857m from Shepherds Hut Ck
Looking back out of the valley. Falls Dam on the left.
Hawkdun Range pt 1857m from Shepherds Hut Ck
Back near the start looking up.
Hawkdun Range pt 1857m from Shepherds Hut Ck
We finished in tall tussock grass.
Hawkdun Range pt 1857m from Shepherds Hut Ck
Looking back up at the summit. We walked up on the left.
Hawkdun Range pt 1857m from Shepherds Hut Ck
The Ida Water Race, and the mountain we climbed in the background. A water race is like a very small canal for servicing farms. They are a very neat piece of engineering; this one runs for many kilometres.
Hawkdun Range pt 1857m from Shepherds Hut Ck
Taken back at the start.
Hawkdun Range pt 1857m from Shepherds Hut Ck
On the way out. No filter needed to capture the golden hues of The Maniototo.

And a funny coincidence…

Hawkdun Range pt 1857m from Shepherds Hut Ck
We drank this wine the day after, and the blurb pointed out that our wine came from the very valley we started our walk in. The river originates in the range we climbed, and in the one opposite.

Author: Edward Hathway

I'm a clinical psychologist and keen hiker.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.