Mt Harper Circuit, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ
This circuit walk up Mt Harper (1829m) offers wide open views of the Ashburton Lakes District & the Rangitata River, with the Southern Alps providing the backdrop.
With a forecast of cloudy weather to the north and west of Canterbury this walk up Mt Harper (1829m) in the Ashburton Lakes District was a plan B. It turned out to be one of the best walks we’ve done, with fabulous views in all directions. There’s variety in the views as well, with rugged snowy peaks, lumpier mountains, wide plains punctuated with shallow lakes, and the Rangitata River Valley. The overall impression is of remoteness, which I always like on a walk.
We shared the mountain a while with just one other walker despite being a mostly cloudless Saturday. He was intending to parasail off the summit, but the wind was picking up and turned back, leaving Mt Harper entirely to us. Track notes at the end.
Mt Harper Circuit: The Scenery
We walked this route clockwise, opting to climb steeply through tussock to get to the summit earlier in the day, and then have views over the Rangitata Valley on the way down. One advantage of this is if you start to run out of light the last sections of the walk are on an obvious vehicle track.
The start is on a vehicle track, as is the section from Balmacaan Saddle to the end. Otherwise it’s off track through open country, so no problem with navigation in good weather. Roughly 1200m of ascent and descent, at the hard end of moderate. I’ve seen others recommend 5-8 hours to complete the walk, and that seems about right. Two hours drive from Christchurch.