Moorhouse Range Tops, Tenahaun Conservation Area, Canterbury NZ

Excellent views of the Rangitata River and north-east towards Mt Taylor from the top of the Moorhouse Range (point 1153m).

Moorhouse Range Tops, Tenahaun Conservation Area

This lesser known walk to the tops of the Moorhouse Range offers really excellent views of the Rangitata River and Harper Range to the west, and many other peaks including Mt Taylor to the north. There’s just 650m ascent and a fairly straightforward scrub bash to get these views, and you’re unlikely to meet anybody else. We did this walk after quite heavy snowfall so the views were extra good.

The walk starts on the South Hinds Track (a vehicle track) through farmland, but before long it’s time to set off up a spur to the spine of the Moorhouse Range at 1153m. Once up on the tops you could go south to Pukanui (1145m), or a much longer day can be spent visiting Mt Tripp (1368m) to the north. We were already very happy with the views from 1153m, and to be honest with thick snow on the tops and strong winds we opted for a shorter but very satisfying day out.  

Track notes at the end.

Moorhouse Range Tops: The Scenery

Moorhouse Range Tops, Tenahaun Conservation Area
I’m not used to seeing cabbage trees in the snow.
Moorhouse Range Tops, Tenahaun Conservation Area
Native bush under snow. Our route was up to the left.
Moorhouse Range Tops, Tenahaun Conservation Area
Looking back down into the valley.
Moorhouse Range Tops, Tenahaun Conservation Area
A bit of an artistic shot.
Moorhouse Range Tops, Tenahaun Conservation Area
Tussock grass creates nice lumpy shapes under the snow.
Moorhouse Range Tops, Tenahaun Conservation Area
Epics views opening up as we ascended. Mt Taylor, the tallest mountain in the Canterbury Foothills, in the distance.

Moorhouse Range Tops, Tenahaun Conservation Area

Moorhouse Range Tops, Tenahaun Conservation Area
I liked the colours in this shot to the south-east.
Moorhouse Range Tops, Tenahaun Conservation Area
It was cold and windy on the tops. We walked for a hundred or so metres south from point 1153m to another viewpoint with slightly clearer views. Sophia talked me out of visiting Mt Pukanui, another 1.5 km to the south-east.
Moorhouse Range Tops, Tenahaun Conservation Area
Sophia backed by the Rangitata River, looking like somewhere in Iceland I thought.
Moorhouse Range Tops, Tenahaun Conservation Area
Rangitata River from the Moorhouse Range
Moorhouse Range Tops, Tenahaun Conservation Area
An epic panorama of the Rangitata River and surrounds from near point 1153m on the Moorhouse Range.
Moorhouse Range Tops, Tenahaun Conservation Area
A close up of the Rangitata.
Moorhouse Range Tops, Tenahaun Conservation Area
A panorama from the Clent Hills on the left, to Mt Somers on the right, with Mt Taylor and other high peaks in the centre.

Moorhouse Range Tops, Tenahaun Conservation Area

Moorhouse Range Tops, Tenahaun Conservation Area
Afternoon melt.
Moorhouse Range Tops, Tenahaun Conservation Area
Near the end.

Track Notes

Moorhouse Range Tops, Tenahaun Conservation Area
On the South Hinds Track through through farmland until reach the conservation area at a small stream. Cross the stream then soon head left up the spur to point 1153.

The route starts on an easement through farmland on the South Hinds Track. After roughly 2.5 km you meet the border of the Tenahaun Conservation Area (spelt ‘Tenehaun’ by DOC, but is Tenahaun on the map). Orange poles direct you right, over a stream, then after 5o metres or so its time to head left up the spur. There’s a bit of a bush bash at first, but not hard. The vegetation soon thins out and it’s fairly clear walking (with some speargrass to avoid) all the way to the top. You meet an old vehicle track at one point, and eventually a fence line that you can follow the rest of the way. 

It took us about 5 hours return in the snow, but I’ve seen other lower estimates without snow. There’s info on walks in the area on the DOC website, and you might like to consider the nearby Rangitata Gorge walk, which we did just a few weeks earlier.  

Author: Edward Hathway

I'm a clinical psychologist and keen hiker.

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