Leaning Rock (1647m) via Lilico Spur, Central Otago NZ

This long walk climbs through farmland to the Waikerikeri Conservation Area, and then through rugged tussock grass country to the barren summit of Leaning Rock (1647m), where there are many large tors.

Leaning Rock via Lilico Spur

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.

The Scenery

Leaning Rock via Lilico Spur
Possibly moss on the lower slopes. Very colourful whatever it was.
Leaning Rock via Lilico Spur
Waikerikeri Conservation Area. Our destination centre-top. We walked up Lilico Spur on the right, onto a ridge, then down into the valley and up to Leaning Rock summit. Sophia is camouflaged bottom left.
Leaning Rock via Lilico Spur
Sophia ascending. It was rugged in places.

Leaning Rock via Lilico Spur Leaning Rock via Lilico Spur

Leaning Rock via Lilico Spur
We dropped down to Waikerikeri Creek.
Leaning Rock via Lilico Spur
Spear Grass/Spaniards. A truly lethal plant: it drew blood more than once.
Leaning Rock via Lilico Spur
Looking back at the ridge that followed Lilico Spur. It was bloody windy!
Leaning Rock via Lilico Spur
The moonscape on top.
Leaning Rock via Lilico Spur
One of the big tors on top. There was a communication facility on the summit.

Leaning Rock via Lilico Spur Leaning Rock via Lilico Spur

Leaning Rock via Lilico Spur
A rainbow was forming right over some wrinkly hills. (This photo a bit blurry due to excess digital zoom.)
Leaning Rock via Lilico Spur
Looking south into the Manuherikia Valley (I think).
Leaning Rock via Lilico Spur
Nice rainbow-cloud combination.
Leaning Rock via Lilico Spur
Low cloud.
Leaning Rock via Lilico Spur
Lake Dunstan and Cromwell Gorge.

Leaning Rock via Lilico Spur

Leaning Rock via Lilico Spur
Dropping back down into the valley.
Leaning Rock via Lilico Spur
We had to climb through rugged sections to get back to the ridge.
Leaning Rock via Lilico Spur
Me. It was actually a bit darker than this, but I lightened the photo so you could get a proper look at me and my surroundings.
Leaning Rock via Lilico Spur
On the way down.
Leaning Rock via Lilico Spur
Almost sunset. It took us longer than we expected.

Track Notes

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. 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.

Author: Edward Hathway

I'm a clinical psychologist and keen hiker.

2 thoughts on “Leaning Rock (1647m) via Lilico Spur, Central Otago NZ”

  1. You did will to do the trip I want to do, and the time you gave is what I had estimated . Did you get permission to traverse from Lillco Spur to Leaning Rock, and if so who did you contact.

    Pauline
    Alexandra

    1. Hi Pauline, thanks for stopping by the blog. I think the track notes I used were a bit old and didn’t mention asking for permission to access Leaning Rock, or else I missed it. I have subsequently read it online somewhere though. When we did it we didn’t meet a single person the whole way, and so I doubt the land owners are suffering from excess people on the route. It was definitely hard going once we left the track, and I think it would still be a worthy walk if you just stopped high up on Lilico Spur.

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