Nichols Gorge Track, Kosciuszko NP NSW

A very atmospheric walk through Nichols Gorge in Kosciuszko National Park. The gorge is lined by large rocky crags, and then the track emerges from the gorge onto wide treeless plains.

The attractive Nichols Gorge Track branches off from the common start with the Clarke Gorge Track, near the camping area at Blue Waterholes. Not quite as spectacular as the narrow and shear sided Clarke Gorge, Nichols Gorge is nevertheless very atmospheric, and has the added advantage of being a circuit walk, (and you won’t get wet feet). It feels a bit more remote than it is (which I like), and opens out onto a wide treeless plain in the latter half. Continue reading “Nichols Gorge Track, Kosciuszko NP NSW”

Clarke Gorge Track, Kosciuszko NP NSW

Pretty spectacular walking through Clarke Gorge in the northern section of Kosciuszko National Park (…but be prepared for wet feet).

I’d seen pictures of Clarke Gorge on the internet, and this alone convinced me I should visit the less trendy northern end of Kosciuszko National Park (less trendy because of the generally lower elevation). It’s a very narrow gorge lined by sheer sided cliffs, and the walk through it to Cave Creek Falls must be one of the best in the park. There were brumbies (wild horses) galore in the area, and although they are non-natives, they are nevertheless charming animals that are generally quite comfortable with humans. Continue reading “Clarke Gorge Track, Kosciuszko NP NSW”

Queens Drive (part) & Lake Alta, The Remarkables, Queenstown NZ

Three walks high up in the Remarkables Range near Queenstown: tracks to Lake Alta and Shadow Basin Lookout, and for something a little more hair raising, the Queens Drive track. Alpine scenes and spectacular views abound.

Three walks in one here: a straightforward walk up to beautiful Lake Alta from the Remarkables ski fields car park, a shortish climb to wide open views at Shadow Basin Lookout, and the somewhat hair raising Queens Drive track, that runs along a poor excuse for a ledge high up (about 2000m) on the west face of the Remarkables. Seriously spectacular views on the Queens Drive track, but if you don’t have a head for heights then you can just check out the views from Shadow Basin Lookout, which is on the way.

Continue reading “Queens Drive (part) & Lake Alta, The Remarkables, Queenstown NZ”

Hawkdun Range ascent (point 1857m), Maniototo, Central Otago NZ

An excellent walk through tussock grass to the barren summit plateau of the Hawkdun Range (point 1857m), in the remote Maniototo region of Central Otago.

An excellent walk to the top of the Hawkdun Range (1857m) in the remote Maniototo region of Central Otago, famous for its isolated vistas of golden tussock grass and mountains. The walk starts in the Manuherikia Valley, and after a flat start rises steeply up to the long and barren summit plateau of the Hawkdun Range: about 1100m of ascent and descent. Not as dramatic as the Southern Alps, but very atmospheric, and we had the place to ourselves.  Continue reading “Hawkdun Range ascent (point 1857m), Maniototo, Central Otago NZ”

Leaning Rock via Lilico Spur, Central Otago NZ

This long walk climbs through farmland to the Waikerikeri Conservation Area, and then through rugged tussock grass country to the barren summit of Leaning Rock (1647m), where there are many large tors.

A fairly long walk to the summit of Leaning Rock (1647m), the latter half of which is off track in the Waikerikeri Conservation Area. Starting in farmland, the walk ascends up Lilico Spur to the edge of the conservation area. From there the scenery is predominantly tussock grass, rocky areas, and finally the barren summit moonscape replete with multiple tors of various shapes and sizes. The overall feeling is one of remoteness, (although there are major  communications installations on the summit). Continue reading “Leaning Rock via Lilico Spur, Central Otago NZ”

Cairnmuir Hill Track, Central Otago NZ

This walk starts in New Zealand’s driest area, and climbs onto Cairnmuir Hill at 1114m of elevation. There are extensive views of the moody Dunstan Mountains, and over the flatlands further south.

This walk is one half of a complete traverse of Cairnmuir Hill (1114m) in Central Otago, which would take you from near Bannockburn over to Clyde. It starts in New Zealand’s driest and most arid area, with just introduced thyme eking out an existence. As you steadily climb the country becomes more hospitable, with familiar tussock grass dominating the scenery, along with a few rocky outcrops. There are good views over the moody Dunstan Mountains, with their large tors and wrinkled dark slopes, and also glimpses of the aqua coloured Lake Dunstan in the valley below. Continue reading “Cairnmuir Hill Track, Central Otago NZ”

Main Range Walk & Mt Townsend, Kosciuszko National Park NSW

The Main Range Track is Australia’s highest walk, passing through rare alpine vegetation, and taking in a number of glacial lakes and Australia’s most extensive views. A side trip to Mt Townsend (2210m) is well worth it.

One of NSW and Australia’s classic day walks, the Main Range Walk in Kosciuszko National Park is also Australia’s highest walking track, maintaining an elevation between roughly 1800m and 2200m. It’s a 22km loop through alpine vegetation, taking in glacial lakes and Australia’s most extensive views along the way. The side trip to Australia’s second highest peak, Mt Townsend (2210m), is well worth it, and offers a more interesting experience than the shorter side trip to our highest peak, Mt Kosciuszko (2228m). If you were keen you could do both, but we by passed Kosciuszko as we’d been there before. The walk as depicted here was about 25km with 750m change in elevation. Continue reading “Main Range Walk & Mt Townsend, Kosciuszko National Park NSW”

Earnslaw Burn Track, near Glenorchy NZ

A truly spectacular walk to a tussock basin below the Earnslaw Glacier. Highly recommended for fit walkers or those willing to spend a night there.

You get up close and personal with Mt Earnslaw and its glacier on this mammoth walk, which took my wife and me almost 10 hours. The Earnslaw Burn Track follows the true left bank of the Earnslaw Burn through beech forest up to a tussock basin below the Earnslaw Glacier. Once out of the forest the views will be enough to knock your hiking socks off, and are amongst the best we’ve seen on any day hike. They include the Earnslaw Glacier and numerous waterfalls, big fallen rocks, and we caught sight of an avalanche too. Continue reading “Earnslaw Burn Track, near Glenorchy NZ”

Mt Pisa via Tinwald Burn Ridge Track, Central Otago NZ

A long hard walk up 1600m of elevation to reach the barren plateau on top of the Pisa Range, finishing at the summit of Mt Pisa (1963m).

The ascent of Mt Pisa is a pretty gruelling slog up 1600m of elevation over 12.5 km, but the otherworldly moonscape on top is impressive and worth the effort. Most of the climb is through farmland on a vehicle track, and when we did it there was a lot of animal dung around, so it wasn’t the most pleasant experience. Once out of the farmland and into the Pisa Conservation Area the terrain changes to a barren and rocky moonscape, and when on the plateau there’s a further 2km of mostly flat walking to rocks on the summit at 1963m of elevation. Continue reading “Mt Pisa via Tinwald Burn Ridge Track, Central Otago NZ”

Tasman Glacier Lake Walk, Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park NZ

A great short walk to the Tasman Glacier Lake foreshore, in Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park.

If you visit Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park there are a number of excellent short walks that you could do in the same day, or squeeze into the day you get there, or the day you leave. Visiting the Tasman Glacier Lake is one of these, and offers excellent views of the Tasman River Valley and of course the lake, all for under an hour’s walking. Continue reading “Tasman Glacier Lake Walk, Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park NZ”