Mt Fyffe and Gables End, Kaikoura, Canterbury NZ

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.

Mt Fyffe & Gables End, 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

Mt Fyffe & Gables End, Kaikoura
A type of enormous Speargrass that I’d not seen before.
Mt Fyffe & Gables End, Kaikoura
Sophia demonstrating the size of the Speargrass.
Mt Fyffe & Gables End, Kaikoura
Nice clouds from a lookout early on in the walk.
Mt Fyffe & Gables End, Kaikoura
Moody views over Kaikoura Peninsula from a lookout on the way up.
Mt Fyffe & Gables End, Kaikoura
Looking up at Mt Fyffe from the lower slopes. It was lush and forested on the eastern side.
Mt Fyffe & Gables End, Kaikoura
More interesting clouds.
Mt Fyffe & Gables End, Kaikoura
First look at the views west of the Seward Kaikoura Range from a spot near Sandy Saddle at about 820m. The views mostly continued from here on in.
Mt Fyffe & Gables End, Kaikoura
One of those big Speargrass flowers up close.
Mt Fyffe & Gables End, Kaikoura
Young pine cones. Very cute. The higher portion of the eastern slopes were covered in pine trees and I think a few other exotics. It was native vegetation lower down.
Mt Fyffe & Gables End, Kaikoura
Kaikoura Peninsula viewed from about 1500m up. Oddly there was a sign stating that it was 1500m up, as though that was a milestone.
Mt Fyffe & Gables End, Kaikoura
The views were getting spectacular as we neared the summit.

Mt Fyffe & Gables End, Kaikoura

Mt Fyffe & Gables End, Kaikoura
Heading off to Gables End (roughly centre of picture, somewhat camouflaged amongst other mountains, from the summit of Mt Fyffe.

Mt Fyffe & Gables End, Kaikoura

Mt Fyffe & Gables End, Kaikoura
I think this shot fit in the most ridges, spurs, rock, trees and tussock of the day. The Seaward Kaikoura Range topping out at Manakau (2608m; on the right with snow).
Mt Fyffe & Gables End, Kaikoura
Looking north east.
Mt Fyffe & Gables End, Kaikoura
Walking north on the tops.
Mt Fyffe & Gables End, Kaikoura
Sophia backed by the Seaward Kaikoura Range. Looking south-west from nearby Gable (1585m).
Mt Fyffe & Gables End, Kaikoura
On the saddle between Gable and Gables End.
Mt Fyffe & Gables End, Kaikoura
The view from just a bit past Gables End (1592m). Uwerau (2213m) in the middle.
Mt Fyffe & Gables End, Kaikoura
Sophia backed by Uwerau (2213m), and hiding behind it, Manakau (2608m).
Mt Fyffe & Gables End, Kaikoura
Looking back towards Gable and Mt Fyffe as storm clouds closed in. We got a dousing.
Mt Fyffe & Gables End, Kaikoura
Clouds closing in.
Mt Fyffe & Gables End, Kaikoura
Looking towards Gable. It was quite steep near the top.
Mt Fyffe & Gables End, Kaikoura
Looking down the mountain to the east. It was proper raining, and I had to use a waterproof pouch for my phone to get this shot. Not a bad result.
Mt Fyffe & Gables End, Kaikoura
Mist coming up the mountain being flattened by the strong winds coming from the left. Pretty cool effect.
Mt Fyffe & Gables End, Kaikoura
A close up of that mist: it had just stopped raining so I was able to get my mirrorless camera out again.
Mt Fyffe & Gables End, Kaikoura
Descending from Mt Fyffe.
Mt Fyffe & Gables End, Kaikoura
A panorama of Kaikoura Flats and Kaikoura Point.
Mt Fyffe & Gables End, Kaikoura
A last look at the views west before heading back down into forest.

Track Notes

Mt Fyffe & Gables End, Kaikoura
On a vehicle track for much of the way, but just a marked route from around point 1556 to Gables End.

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.

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 *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.