Mt Norma Route, Lewis Pass, Canterbury NZ

A lesser known walk up Mt Norma (1722m) in the Lewis Pass region, with spectacular views of numerous mountain peaks and glacial valleys.

Mt Norma Route, Lewis Pass

I came across the Mt Norma Access Track on my way up Nina Valley, and as always got a bit excited at the prospect of another easily accessible mountain summit in the Lewis Pass area. I waited a long time for a good weather window to get up there, but it finally came in the middle of a very snowy winter, so the views of mountain peaks and valleys galore were extra beautiful. With so much snow this turned out to be a bit adventurous also, and probably the closest we’ve come to mountaineering.

Navigation above the bushline is pretty straightforward, but there is a bit of scrambling along the way to the summit at 1722m. Nothing too difficult for experienced trampers.

Track notes at the end.

Mt Norma Route: The Scenery

Mt Norma Route, Lewis Pass
Looking up the Nina Valley here, just above the bushline. (I didn’t take any shots int he beech forest – it was nice enough with snow about but I’m having to save space on my server).
Mt Norma Route, Lewis Pass
An unnamed stream draining the southern slopes of Mt Norma.
Mt Norma Route, Lewis Pass
You can see Sophia climbing the ridge to point 1642m.

Mt Norma Route, Lewis Pass

Mt Norma Route, Lewis Pass
Sophia looking up at the summit of Mt Norma from point 1642m.
Mt Norma Route, Lewis Pass
Very snowy on these eastern slopes.
Mt Norma Route, Lewis Pass
Sophia following my footsteps on the final climb to the summit. Point 1642m in the background.

Mt Norma Route, Lewis Pass

Mt Norma Route, Lewis Pass
Mt Technical from the summit of Mt Norma (1722m).
Mt Norma Route, Lewis Pass
A panorama to the west.
Mt Norma Route, Lewis Pass
Another panorama, this time to the north.
Mt Norma Route, Lewis Pass
Sophia on the summit of Norma, with the Spencer Mountains in the distant background.
Mt Norma Route, Lewis Pass
The Libretto Range. We’ve done a couple of good walks here – Travers Peak and Faust/Mephistopheles.
Mt Norma Route, Lewis Pass
Nice patterns in the snow.
Mt Norma Route, Lewis Pass
On our way down, with the Lewis River and Highway 7 / Lewis Pass Road down below.

Track Notes

Mt Norma Route, Lewis Pass
On a marked track to the bushline, then along the ridge to the summit, with a bit of scrambling along the way.

The route takes you immediately across the Lewis River on a swing bridge. After just a minute or two you take a signposted left turn up the Mt Norma Access Track. This is marked the whole way to the bushline, although a bit sparsely marked towards the top. There is a big orange triangle at the bushline, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding the route back down.

From the bushline it’s up the ridge all the way to the summit, with a bit of scrambling along the way. (Or at least we scrambled along the ridge in places rather than navigate the snow, which varied from deep to compacted and hard within short distances).

You can park at the NZDA’s Palmer Lodge site. The track starts just a bit up the road on the other side. The whole walk will take about 7 to 8.5 hours depending on the conditions. It can be done as a long day trip from Christchurch, but we stayed that night in Hanmer Springs and did another short walk the next day.

Author: Edward Hathway

I'm a clinical psychologist and keen hiker.

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