Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury NZ

Really spectacular views of the Southern Alps and surrounds from the summit of Mt Potts (2184m), in the upper Rangitata Valley.

Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury

The long tramp up Mt Potts in the upper Rangitata Valley is a real classic, with awe inspiring views from the summit topping off great views from before you even leave your car. I’d first come across Mt Potts on another hiking blog, and despite them not including many interesting photos my interest had already been piqued. It is a high peak at 2184m, and doable from the bottom (600m) on a long day hike, so that meets my criteria for a great physical peak-bagging challenge. It also came highly recommended in the excellent Canterbury Foothills: A Walking and Tramping Guide. With spectacular views of the Southern Alps promised I made it a target for mid spring, with longer days but still some snow up high. It turned out to be one of our best walks to date: highly recommended for fit trampers with basic navigation skills.

Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
Mt Potts viewed on the drive in.
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
The views on the drive in were already great. I imagine winter is pretty spesh.

Track notes at the end.

Mt Potts Circuit: The Scenery

Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
Looking up towards point 2140m at the end of the valley.
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
A panorama over the Rangitata, Havelock and Clyde Rivers, and of course the Southern Alps behind.
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
Looking up towards point 2140m at the end of the valley. We took the road to the left on the way back.
The Ben McLeod Range and Rangitata River.
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
A prominent mountain in the Southern Alps, possibly Mt D’Archiac (2875m).

Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury

Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
The Pyramid (1748m) to the right. It looks more like a pyramid from the road.
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
Sophia with point 2140m to the right.
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
The Pyramid with Lake Clearwater and Lake Camp just visible to the right in the distance.
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
Looking roughly north-west. Our return route is visible on the side of the valley below.
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
There were some colourful rocks.
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
Looking south-east.
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
Sophia on the low summit of Mt Potts (2152m). A spot of telephotography exaggerating the height and proximity of the mountains behind.
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
Walking from the low summit to the high summit of Mt Potts.
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
Sophia contemplating the epic views towards Mt Arrowsmith from the summit of Mt Potts (2184m).
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
Looking roughly north over the Southern Alps.
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
Looking roughly north over the Southern Alps.
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
Many snowy peaks to the north. A follower on Instagram said this was like looking at a menu at a nice restaurant when you’re starving. I replied that some of these meals might be a bit big for me.
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
Looking south-east. The low summit is to the right. Lakes Clearwater, Camp and Emma a distant centre.

Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury

Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
I believe this is Mt Arrowsmith (2781m).
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
I believe the prominent peak is Mt Arrowsmith (2781m).
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
One of my favourite shots from the day, a panorama from the summit of Mt Potts looking north towards Mt Arrowsmith.
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
Sophia backed by the Southern Alps and Havelock River.
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
Sophia points the way on our descent. Some of these patches of snow were actually very deep drifts.

Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury

Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
Sophia below. Point 2140m to the right.
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
Sophia backed by point 2140m.
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
On our way down from the summit towards the saddle below point 2003m.
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
Cliffs at the head of the valley.
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
I thought the valley walk back would be a bit boring but I was wrong about that. Plus it was a nice change to walk on a vehicle track. (This track was significantly washed out in places.)
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
Looking down the valley towards the Ben McLeod Range.


Track Notes

Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
Most of this walk is on public conservation land, with an easement through private land at the very start. We walked anti-clockwise, and there is no track until you return through the valley on a vehicle track.

We started on the easement track, then entered forest and walked along the edge of a canyon for a short while until the canyon flattens out to allow a crossing of the stream. Meltwater had made the stream rather wild and we ended up crossing on a tree (not exactly recommended, but it was the best of the options at the time).

Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
Sophia crossing the stream near the start. I imagine this would be a lot safer without meltwater.

From there it was out of the forest onto the south west spur, up through shingle/ scree and along the ridge to Mt Potts’ low peak. It is then an easy walk to the high peak where the best views of the day are to be had. We had considered walking back the way we came, but to get out of the gale force winds we decided to return via the valley to the west, and that turned out to be a very nice variation. (Not sure if this would be a safe option in winter or not.) Plus we made quick progress once on the vehicle track in the valley. You can follow this track back to the start, but we took a spur down to the forest and along a fenceline to the easement track near the start. (Staying on the track would possibly have been easier.)

The DOC website has info on the Mt Potts Easement Track in their Hakatere Conservation Park brochure.

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.