Rangitata Gorge on the Tenahaun Track, Canterbury NZ

An unexpectedly attractive walk through the Rangitata Gorge on the Tenahaun Track, to a viewpoint over mountains to the west.

Rangitata Gorge on the Tenahaun Track, Canterbury

The Tenahaun Track through the Rangitata Gorge was one of many NZ walks to exceed expectations. Starting near an irrigation canal diversion, the track is through private farmland almost the whole way, but the majority of it through the Rangitata Gorge is spectacular. When out of the gorge you can continue in a couple of directions, but we stopped on some rocks for views over plains to the Harper Range and over the Southern Alps. A very satisfying day out.

One reason we stopped a bit earlier than planned was due to being chased by a large-ish (35-40) herd of cows. I hope that they merely thought we were the farmer and might have something to offer, but I have subsequently read that cows sometimes maim or even kill walkers! Gulp. I suspect few people do this walk. We didn’t see any other people on the day we did it at least, and I can’t find many pictures online. 

Track notes at the end.

Rangitata Gorge on the Tenahaun Track: The Scenery

Most of these photos were taken on the way back in favourable afternoon lighting, so scroll down a bit for the best shots of the Rangitata Gorge. 

Rangitata Gorge on the Tenahaun Track, Canterbury
The first of the cows. These were curious but did not chase us.

Rangitata Gorge on the Tenahaun Track, Canterbury

Rangitata Gorge on the Tenahaun Track, Canterbury
A panorama from our lunch spot.
Rangitata Gorge on the Tenahaun Track, Canterbury
Harper Range across the plains.

Rangitata Gorge on the Tenahaun Track, Canterbury

Rangitata Gorge on the Tenahaun Track, Canterbury
Sophia shooing off the cows that had chased us for a while. I subsequently read that they can stampede and maim/kill walkers, so I’m not sure how risky this strategy was. Nevertheless, I was still taking photos, and so captured this one of her heroics.

Rangitata Gorge on the Tenahaun Track, Canterbury

Rangitata Gorge on the Tenahaun Track, Canterbury
A little bit of zoom in this shot of the Rangitata Gorge. Harper Range at the back.
Rangitata Gorge on the Tenahaun Track, Canterbury
Rangitata River

Rangitata Gorge on the Tenahaun Track, Canterbury

Rangitata Gorge on the Tenahaun Track, Canterbury
The Rangitata River looking nice and blue in the afternoon.
Rangitata Gorge on the Tenahaun Track, Canterbury
The Rangitata Gorge in mid afternoon light.

Rangitata Gorge on the Tenahaun Track, Canterbury

Track Notes

Rangitata Gorge on the Tenahaun Track, Canterbury
On a marked track the whole way.

On an obvious and marked (often poled) track the whole way. There’s more info on walks in the area on the DOC website.

Author: Edward Hathway

I'm a clinical psychologist and keen hiker.

4 thoughts on “Rangitata Gorge on the Tenahaun Track, Canterbury NZ”

  1. Yeah, we didn’t see anybody the whole day. And yes, this was a little easier (no peak involved I suppose) because my wife Sophia had bruised her ribs falling in the Chain Hills a week or two before. I think this is why I was pleasantly surprised – didn’t really expect so much out of a valley walk.

  2. A shorter easier walk than your usual ones. Bishopdale Trampers even do this one sometimes – but a long drive in the bus from Chch. We last did it in 2020 (see report on trip reports, 2020). I don’t think the cattle are killers – just very curious and a bit bored.
    One time we found the track very muddy at the beginning, other times have had jet boats to entertain – but no tourists now?

    1. Hi John. It was roughly 4-5 hours return. The route does go further than what we did, so it could be longer depending on where you turn around.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

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