Mt Crichton to pt. 1723m, near Queenstown NZ

A really excellent walk to a minor peak on Mt Crichton. Fabulous mountain and lake views almost the whole way, and a good work out too.

Mt Crichton to pt. 1723m, near Queenstown NZ

The climb up Mt Crichton near Queenstown was one of our best walks to date. And even if you don’t visit one of the summit peaks you’ll still feel a sense of achievement and wonder by going as far as the minor peak at 1723m. Be prepared for quite a work out though, as much of it is steep and on a sometimes obscure route.

It starts in attractive beech forest, and you can expect great views as soon as you’re above the treeline. At the turnaround point there are 360 degree views taking in a variety of rugged and picturesque scenery, including the summit of Mt Crichton, Lake Isobel (just a glimpse), Twelve Mile Creek, Lake Wakatipu, and various peaks and ridges in all directions. And to top it off we didn’t meet a single person all day! Track notes at the end.

Mt Crichton to pt. 1723m: The Scenery

Mt Crichton to pt. 1723m, near Queenstown NZ
The first and last 30 minutes of the walk is on the Mt Crichton Loop Track near the base of the mountain.
Mt Crichton to pt. 1723m, near Queenstown NZ
Looking over Twelve Mile Creek from the Mt Crichton Loop Track.
Mt Crichton to pt. 1723m, near Queenstown NZ
Sophia looking up Twelve Mile Creek. The summit of Mt Crichton to the left, obscured by cloud.
Mt Crichton to pt. 1723m, near Queenstown NZ
Above the tree line looking back towards Lake Wakatipu and Cecil peak.
Mt Crichton to pt. 1723m, near Queenstown NZ
Lake Wakatipu, and from left to right, the Remarkables (2319m) Cecil Peak (1978m) and Walter Peak (1800m).
Mt Crichton to pt. 1723m, near Queenstown NZ
Quite steep in sections. And the track runs out every so often, so you have to find your own way.
Mt Crichton to pt. 1723m, near Queenstown NZ
From here you have two reasonable options. The route as I’ve read it online suggests climbing very steeply to the left onto the ridgeline at point 1432m. You will eventually drop down to point 1390m before climbing to point 1723m, which is on the left in this photo. However I think it would be easier to stay low on the boulders next to the tussock line (roughly centre) and you can eventually climb up a shallow gully to meet the ridge at the low point (1390m) before making the final climb. Sophia took this option. I tried to pass through the scree and meet the ridge without losing any ground, and that was the worst choice as it was very loose. So take either the high road or the low road, and you’ll be in Scotland before me (if you don’t know the song that will make no sense, although it may make no sense anyway).
Mt Crichton to pt. 1723m, near Queenstown NZ
Speargrass with Lake Walkatipu and Cecil Peak in the distance.
Mt Crichton to pt. 1723m, near Queenstown NZ
The screen slopes I traversed. Not recommended.
Mt Crichton to pt. 1723m, near Queenstown NZ
Scree slopes on the eastern side of point 1437m.
Mt Crichton to pt. 1723m, near Queenstown NZ
Looking down through a gully towards Jessie Peak and mountains on the other side of Lake Wakatipu.
Mt Crichton to pt. 1723m, near Queenstown NZ
We took this ridge on the way back, but ascended from the left (east). This is viewed from the final climb to our destination.
Mt Crichton to pt. 1723m, near Queenstown NZ
Coffs Harbour NSW may have the big banana, but Mt Crichton has the The Big White Banana. At least that’s what this remnant snow reminded me of.
Mt Crichton to pt. 1723m, near Queenstown NZ
First proper look at Mt Crichton. You’ll want to continue a few minutes further on from this point to get better views.
Mt Crichton to pt. 1723m, near Queenstown NZ
Mt Crichton viewed from the minor peak at 1723m, our turnaround point
Mt Crichton to pt. 1723m, near Queenstown NZ
Looking east.
Mt Crichton to pt. 1723m, near Queenstown NZ
Mt Nicholas (1458m). I’ve always liked the clear contrast in colour on this mountain, which is the border of farmland and reserve. It’s apparently dome shaped because a glacier once road right over the top of it.

Mt Crichton to pt. 1723m, near Queenstown NZ

Mt Crichton to pt. 1723m, near Queenstown NZ
Not sure if I have effectively portrayed the very steep drop off.
Mt Crichton to pt. 1723m, near Queenstown NZ
Helicopter!
Mt Crichton to pt. 1723m, near Queenstown NZ
Sophia with Mt Crichton behind.
Mt Crichton to pt. 1723m, near Queenstown NZ
For me this is the money shot. Love all of the blacks greys and browns of this rugged terrain.
Mt Crichton to pt. 1723m, near Queenstown NZ
One of my favourite shots from the trip. It looks like a painted collage but is just a straight shot of ridge lines taken with my telephoto lens. I love the layering and textures.
Mt Crichton to pt. 1723m, near Queenstown NZ
I also liked this photo of a ridgeline with a very metallic looking screen slope below.
Mt Crichton to pt. 1723m, near Queenstown NZ
Another shot with my telephoto lens. Here I was trying to capture the contrast in colours and scenery. The farmland is in fact quite remote, being on the other side of the lake, although quick enough by boat of course.
Mt Crichton to pt. 1723m, near Queenstown NZ
Sophia contemplates the ridge we took on the way back. You continue until point 1432m and then descend very steeply east.

Mt Crichton to pt. 1723m, near Queenstown NZ

Mt Crichton to pt. 1723m, near Queenstown NZ
Sophia walks into the wild blue yonder, or does she… The blue behind is in fact a super calm Lake Wakatipu. Another of my telephoto shots: I was on a roll!
Mt Crichton to pt. 1723m, near Queenstown NZ
That gully and Jessie Peak again. Looking quite nice as the sun starts to go down.
Mt Crichton to pt. 1723m, near Queenstown NZ
This ridge was straightforward but perhaps not so in low visibility and bad weather. The drop offs on thee east (left) side are steep.
Mt Crichton to pt. 1723m, near Queenstown NZ
Climbing to point 1437m.
Mt Crichton to pt. 1723m, near Queenstown NZ
Sophia on point 1437m, or thereabouts. This looks a bit more intrepid than the reality.
Mt Crichton to pt. 1723m, near Queenstown NZ
Looking back along the ridge to point 1723m, and Mt Crichton’s summit just to the right of that.
Mt Crichton to pt. 1723m, near Queenstown NZ
Sophia descending steeply, with Cecil Peak behind.
Mt Crichton to pt. 1723m, near Queenstown NZ
The route back is along that ridge and then steeply down through beech forest.
Mt Crichton to pt. 1723m, near Queenstown NZ
Spear grass and Cecil Peak as a backdrop.
Mt Crichton to pt. 1723m, near Queenstown NZ
Walter Peak (1800m).
Mt Crichton to pt. 1723m, near Queenstown NZ
Descending through atmospheric beech forest. It was really steep in some places.
Mt Crichton to pt. 1723m, near Queenstown NZ
Sophia in amongst storm damage.

Track Notes

I used a couple of online sources when researching the route for this walk, including J Milne’s website, and also the online magazine Wilderness Mag (at the time of writing you can get three free articles per month, so I’ve just linked to the home page). You start on the Mt Crichton Loop Track going anti clockwise, then shortly after Maori Gully there’s a faint track that ascends steeply through beech forest. Above the tree line the track is sometimes faint, but the route is essentially along ridges the whole way to point 1723m, taking in points 1041m, 1432m, 1437m, and 1390m. We actually took a detour on the way up and bypassed points 1432m and 1437m: see the caption on one of my pictures for a bit of info on your options at this point.

You can continue to the major peaks, being 1845m and 1870m (apparently 1873m is seldom climbed). Sophia (my wife) wasn’t feeling too flash so we went only as far as 1723m, which is nevertheless an excellent turnaround point.

Author: Edward Hathway

I'm a clinical psychologist and keen hiker.

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