A fairly long walk to the summit of Leaning Rock (1647m), the latter half of which is off track in the Waikerikeri Conservation Area. Starting in farmland, the walk ascends up Lilico Spur to the edge of the conservation area. From there the scenery is predominantly tussock grass, rocky areas, and finally the barren summit moonscape replete with multiple tors of various shapes and sizes. The overall feeling is one of remoteness, (although there are major communications installations on the summit).
Track notes at the end.
Leaning Rock via Lilico Spur: The Scenery
We used track notes in Day Walks of New Zealand: Central Otago and Queenstown. Start towards the end of Waikerikeri Valley Road where there is a DOC sign marking the beginning of the track up Lilico Spur. (We overshot the sign at first, so keep an eye out for it – one of the green and gold ones you’ll be familiar with if you walk a lot in NZ). The track passes through farmland to the edge of the Waikerikeri Conservation Area. (Apparently you need landowner permission to go further than the conservation area; I didn’t know so merrily waltzed on). Continue along the ridge until you find a convenient spot to drop down to Waikerikeri Creek. From there climb up the hillside to reach the summit of Leaning Rock. Easy enough to navigate: just head for the biggest rock. It was slow going once we left the ridge though, and it took us much longer than expected (about 9 hours return). It may have been quicker if we’d stuck to the ridge a bit longer, as the tussock grass was pretty thick and the slopes steep.