Mt McIntosh Loop Track, Whakaari Conservation Area, Glenorchy NZ

Great views at the north end of Lake Wakatipu on the Mt McIntosh Loop Track to the summit of Mt McIntosh (1701m).

Mt McIntosh Loop Track, Whakaari Conservation Area

After enjoying the excellent hike to Mt Alaska in the Whakaari Conservation Area near Glenorchy, I had looked forward to returning and doing the Mt McIntosh Loop Track. Although this can be done as a loop by crossing over the Buckler Burn, we did it as an out and back tramp to the summit of Mt McIntosh (1701m) entirely on the northern side of the burn. Like the walk to Mt Alaska the views of surrounding peaks and valleys are excellent. A highlight for me were views of rugged Temple Peak (2089m), and views over the northern end of Lake Wakatipu.

Most of the walking is on a marked route, although there’s a little bit of off-track navigation required to visit the summit of Mt McIntosh. And you can also climb Black Peak: add 3 hours apparently. Thick fog discouraged us from continuing to Black Peak, although the weather did eventually clear, so I got some good photos of the views! 

Track notes at the end.

Mt McIntosh Loop Track: The Scenery

Mt McIntosh Loop Track, Whakaari Conservation Area
Mist that took a long time to clear, delaying our leaving the summit of Mt McIntosh as I was determined to get my views!!
Mt McIntosh Loop Track, Whakaari Conservation Area
A nice long white cloud in the land of the same name (not the ‘nice’ bit). 
Mt McIntosh Loop Track, Whakaari Conservation Area
The Humboldt Mountains, Lake Wakatipu, Glenorchy, and the Dart and Rees Rivers. Mt Alfred on the far right. 
Mt McIntosh Loop Track, Whakaari Conservation Area
I liked this picture as cloud lingered about the tops. It didn’t clear until mid afternoon.
Mt McIntosh Loop Track, Whakaari Conservation Area
An alpine insect. It looks a bit like a cicada, although I’m not sure about this one. I saw what I am sure was a cicada on a later walk. NZ has the only alpine cicadas in the world apparently.
Mt McIntosh Loop Track, Whakaari Conservation Area
Approached the summit a bit early and had to go back down and around these bluffs (to the left / north).
Mt McIntosh Loop Track, Whakaari Conservation Area
Lake Wakatipu, the confluence of the Rees and Dart Rivers, the Humboldt Mountains and Glenorchy.
Mt McIntosh Loop Track, Whakaari Conservation Area
The mist finally clearing from Black Peak (right) and Temple Peak (left).
Mt McIntosh Loop Track, Whakaari Conservation Area
Black Peak left, and the Buckler Burn Valley to the right.
Mt McIntosh Loop Track, Whakaari Conservation Area
The cloud finally clearing from Mt Alaska (right) and Mt Larkins still slightly obscured (left).
Mt McIntosh Loop Track, Whakaari Conservation Area
Sophia backed by Temple Peak (2089m).
Mt McIntosh Loop Track, Whakaari Conservation Area
Attractive speargrass.
Mt McIntosh Loop Track, Whakaari Conservation Area
Temple Peak again. I took quite a few pictures of this on the way down, as I couldn’t see it at all on the way up.
Mt McIntosh Loop Track, Whakaari Conservation Area
Precipice Hill, Pulpit Basin and Temple Peak.
Mt McIntosh Loop Track, Whakaari Conservation Area
Mt Earnslaw (2830m) centre right.
Mt McIntosh Loop Track, Whakaari Conservation Area
Another panorama looking north. This one with my phone, which makes everything look a bit brown compared to my mirrorless camera, but has good HDR.
Mt McIntosh Loop Track, Whakaari Conservation Area
Interesting lighting on the Humboldt Mountains.
Mt McIntosh Loop Track, Whakaari Conservation Area
We climbed Mt Alaska – the slightly domed summit centre left – a year earlier. Mt Larkins at the back.
Mt McIntosh Loop Track, Whakaari Conservation Area
I liked the texture of the midground tussock in this shot.
Mt McIntosh Loop Track, Whakaari Conservation Area
Looking back along the ridge.
Mt McIntosh Loop Track, Whakaari Conservation Area
Interesting afternoon light as we walked over Chinaman’s Flat. That’s the Humboldt Mountains at the back.
Mt McIntosh Loop Track, Whakaari Conservation Area
Despite taking way too many pictures of Mt Earnslaw as I left the summit, this one from down on Chinaman’s Flat was probably favourite of the day.

Track Notes

To start the walk on the north side of the Buckler Burn requires a short walk along the road from the main car park, crossing the burn on the road bridge. Soon you have to climb a steep embankment on the right, and walk back along the fence line until you see a DOC sign in the trees. Continue on the outside of the fence along what was for us a boggy and somewhat overgrown track. (I got soaked in morning dew so perhaps plan ahead for that). Continuing along the fence line takes you up a very steep hill, and as that flattens out you will soon cross a stile. Walking from there is on vehicle tracks.

You can follow the signs up to McIntosh Hut, or down the hill to McIntyre Hut. But if you want to climb either Mt McIntosh or Black Peak you have to leave the main track shortly after a farm gate, and an old red drum, taking a left turn on an indistinct vehicle track. See the photos below…

Mt McIntosh Loop Track, Whakaari Conservation Area
You leave the main track shortly after this drum.
Mt McIntosh Loop Track, Whakaari Conservation Area
The main track (going to McIntosh Hut) continues to the right; the route to Mt McIntosh (and later Black Peak if you like) is on the indistinct track to the left.

After a while you then head off track to the right (south) for the final climb through tussock and maybe a bit of scree to Mt McIntosh. I could see that the track continues on quite close to the summit of Black Peak. 

It’s a moderately long walk with some steep sections, but a bit shorter than Mt Alaska. There are more details on the DOC website.

Author: Edward Hathway

I'm a clinical psychologist and keen hiker.

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