Fabulous views of the coast & inland over high peaks make this walk up Mt Fyffe (1602m) and on to Gables End (1592m) a must do if you are visiting Kaikoura.
Kaikoura is a coastal town in the far north of Canterbury, and is famous as a place where tall mountains meet the sea. Those tall mountains are the Seaward Kaikoura Range, peaking at the summit of Manakau (2608m). Grandstand views of these mountains on one side, and the sea on the other, are available from Mt Fyffe (1602m) and nearby Gables End (1592m). Most people would stop at Mt Fyffe, but the relatively easy walking (with one steep bit) across the tops to Gable and then Gables End was the highlight of the day, and so if you have the energy I can recommend this extension. The views at Gables End are also very good.
The ascent to Mt Fyffe is on a vehicle track and so not the most interesting walking, although there are views at various points along the way. The best views inland start near Sandy Saddle. The vegetation is fairly lush native forest at first, although this eventually gives way to exotics including pine trees as you ascend. The tops and western slopes are quite eroded and dry looking, although pretty typical of Canterbury High Country scenery. This mountain was once overgrazed and is still recovering. Track notes at the end.
Mt Fyffe and Gables End: The Scenery
It’s a fairly long but straightforward climb to the summit of Mt Fyffe on a vehicle track. You pass Mt Fyffe Hut along the way. You could also ascend via a longer route through the Kowhai River Valley (lots of river crossings apparently) and up Spaniards Spur. Continuing on to Gables End is fairly easy walking on a vehicle track and then a marked route, with the exception of a steep and untracked descent from Gable (and then a steep ascent to get back up). There are long and rugged routes possible from Gables End, and huts to stay in, but we are still day trampers and so we returned the way we came. Roughly 1500m of ascent and descent over 22km. 16km and 1400m change in elevation to Mt Fyffe only. I’ve rated the walk hard mainly because it’s long. You can get more info on walks in the area on the DOC website.