Mt Catherine to 1877m, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ

Spectacular views from pt. 1877m on Mt Catherine, of the Southern Alps, other peaks in the Canterbury Foothills, & the Ashburton Lakes area.

Mt Catherine to 1877m, Hakatere Conservation Park

My plans to summit Mt Catherine in mid winter turned out to be a bit ambitious, but spectacular views from the minor peak at 1877m made this an excellent walk regardless. The grandeur of the Arrowsmith Range is to the west, many snowy mountains to the north, and Mt Catherine itself to the east. To the south-west are the wide open plains of the Ashburton Lakes area.

When I set off there was a lot of low cloud, which got worse before it got better, but at ~1600m I broke through the cloud and suddenly felt very high up. You need access permission from Lake Heron Station to approach to the mountain from the west – see my track notes at the end. Dec 2023 edit: I went back and climbed the mountain from the south in summer – see that post here.

Mt Catherine to 1877m: The Scenery

Mt Catherine to 1877m, Hakatere Conservation Park
Mt Catherine in mist.
Mt Catherine to 1877m, Hakatere Conservation Park
Into the conservation area here. I headed up on the right.
Mt Catherine to 1877m, Hakatere Conservation Park
My first look at the Arrowsmith Range as I emerged out of the clag.
Mt Catherine to 1877m, Hakatere Conservation Park
Nice patterns in the snow.
Mt Catherine to 1877m, Hakatere Conservation Park
Climbing higher…
Mt Catherine to 1877m, Hakatere Conservation Park
The Arrowsmith Range from point 1877m.
Mt Catherine to 1877m, Hakatere Conservation Park
My favourite panorama of the day. Mt Catherine centre right.
Mt Catherine to 1877m, Hakatere Conservation Park
A panorama to the north.

Mt Catherine to 1877m, Hakatere Conservation Park Mt Catherine to 1877m, Hakatere Conservation Park

Mt Catherine to 1877m, Hakatere Conservation Park
The way up to Mt Catherine. The last bit to the summit looks easy, but all that snow and rock on the ridge straight ahead would have taken ages.

Video from the summit:

Mt Catherine to 1877m, Hakatere Conservation Park
It wasn’t until the afternoon that I got a clear shot of Mt Sugarloaf. Lake Heron is mostly hidden behind it.
Mt Catherine to 1877m, Hakatere Conservation Park
Topography that was mostly in cloud in the morning.
Mt Catherine to 1877m, Hakatere Conservation Park
The Clent Hills in the background.
Mt Catherine to 1877m, Hakatere Conservation Park
Mt Sugarloaf
Mt Catherine to 1877m, Hakatere Conservation Park
Two very wide panoramas I took: The view as I walked out through Lake Heron Station, and Lake Heron as I drove home.


Track Notes

Mt Catherine to 1877m, Hakatere Conservation Park
Follow the farm road until you approach the base of the mountain, then cut across the last of the paddocks and enter the conservation area. From there you can head up the westerly spur. On the way down I used an area of snow to aid my descent, with some scree at the bottom. Without snow it might be on scree. (For some reason its not marked as such on the map).

Access

You need permission from Lake Heron Station to walk this route. They were very easygoing and asked me to park just inside the entrance to the farmyard next to two poplars. Phone 03 318 5822. They offer accommodation on their land which would be the luxury way to climb the mountain.

You could also approach the mountain from the car park at Lake Heron (my start point for Mt Taylor when I did it), but that would involve a different route up from the south.

Route Notes

Follow the farm road until you approach the base of the mountain. You can pass through a farm gate and walk on a grassy track of sorts to near the conservation area boundary. Hop the low fence to enter the conservation area. From there you can pick your way through the bushes towards the westerly spur, which is a mixture of tussock and other subalpine plants, rocks, and coarse scree. As I got higher there was blanketed snow and because some of it was icy I put my crampons on.

On the way down I used an area of snow (and at the bottom, some scree) to aid my descent almost to the bottom of the mountain. Without snow it might all have been scree. See my photo below…

Mt Catherine to 1877m, Hakatere Conservation Park
I took the spur up in the morning, but as the mist had cleared on my descent I could see a convenient way down via snow and a bit of scree.

Once the terrain became rocky the snow was of variable depths – often deep – and this slowed my progress. It was like this past 1877m for quite a while so I decided not to try for the summit. It would have taken too long. I’ll return in late spring I think (after lambing) to do this last bit. Or I might take the long route up from Lake Heron.

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 *