Mt Catherine via south ridge, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ
Excellent views & good variety on this long ridge walk up Mt Catherine (2085m) from the south, with scenic options to return via scree slopes, streams & the TA.
I had unfinished business on Mt Catherine (2085m) in Hakatere Conservation Park near Lake Heron. I tried climbing it from the west in winter, but didn’t make the summit. This time I climbed it from the south on a long ridge, taking a scenic variation on the way back to complete a very satisfying day out.
There are views for miles from the ridge, of Lake Heron and its distinctive neighbour Sugarloaf, the Arrowsmith Range, and countless barren mountains to the north and east, many over 2000m high. My return route along a stream down to the Te Araroa was very pleasant, and included the most dangerously beautiful speargrass I’ve ever seen.
Track notes at the end. From the same start you can also take on Mt Taylor (2333m), the highest mountain in the Canterbury Foothills.
Mt Catherine via south ridge: The Scenery
I didn’t take many photos until point 1929m. (The views were nice but clouds were in the way a bit.
The next few are from the summit…
Wide panorama west.
On my way back.
You can start the walk from the Lake Heron Car Park, on the southern shore. From there it’s a long approach to the mountain, but in summer you can save 2-2.5 kilometres walking by gaining an access permit to drive along a 4WD track to Harrisons Bight.
Either way there’s a longish but flat walk along a section of the TA, leaving this north to climb the spur and gain the ridge. From there continue on the ridge, with just some scrambling required to climb down from point 2045. The main climbing is over once you reach 1929m, and from there you enjoy excellent views the rest of the way.
On my way back I decided to leave the summit to the south east down a scree slope, and followed a couple of small parallel streams to the Te Araroa Trail. I found this to be a very pleasant section of the walk, with the sound of the babbling water a constant companion, and increasing amounts of vegetation a nice change from so much rock up on the ridge. The short descent back to the flats on the TA was also enjoyable, with good views and a section of giant speargrass that were in flower in early summer. The biggest speargrass I’ve ever seen, but not too hard to walk around thankfully. This return route was a bit longer but worth it for the variety of environments.
Around 8-9 hours of walking plus extra time for lunch and photos, (I took lots), to cover roughly ~23km and 1600m change in elevation.