A selection of my favourite day-walks in the Central Otago District, featuring wide open spaces, golden tussock grass, & arid alpine plateaus.
Central Otago, or just Central to locals, is New Zealand’s frontier land. Famous for wide open spaces with rolling hills of golden tussock grass, its gold mining and rural history, and for extremes of temperature. The topography is a lot less defined than the Southern Alps to the west, but Central Otago has a stark and barren aesthetic of its own. And being away from the popular centres of Queenstown and Wānaka, we seldom see other walkers on our tramps.
Spectacular and varied tramping on this selection of day-hikes around Hanmer Springs, Lewis Pass & Reefton.
There are mountains galore to the north and west of the resort town of Hanmer Springs, with two quite contrasting landscapes on offer. Directly to the north of town are dry and sometimes barren landscapes characterised by colourful heath plants, tussock and scree. There are a few tracks to choose from, but many more choose-your-own adventures, as the country is pretty open. Further west towards Lewis Pass and on to Reefton is a wetter landscape of forested valleys and grassy, sometimes rugged peaks. The tarns are often a highlight of these walks.
Quintessential New Zealand scenery on these classic day-walks in Arthur’s Pass National Park, all accessible from Christchurch on a day-trip.
I haven’t done a single bad walk in Arthur’s Pass National Park, so when it comes to a best-of list it’s basically just a list of walks I’ve done. There’s quintessential New Zealand scenery on all of these tramps: a mix of high and often snow capped peaks, deep braided river valleys, rugged cliffs, and lush native forest. It’s pristine wilderness that is very accessible from Christchurch – a picturesque drive of roughly 1.5-2 hours.
Some of New Zealand’s finest and most underrated day-tramps are to be found in the Canterbury Foothills, easily accessible from Christchurch.
Flanked by the Southern Alps to the west, and flat as a pancake Canterbury Plains to the east, the Canterbury Foothills are a smorgasbord of mountains, plains, braided rivers and glacial lakes. Many of the peaks are starkly beautiful patchworks of tussock grass and scree, some with stands of native forest on their lower slopes.
There are many well maintained tracks in the area, but much of the country is pretty open, so experienced trampers can extend their options considerably. You can get to pretty much anywhere in the Canterbury Foothills from Christchurch in a day-trip: driving times are between 50 minutes and a little over 2 hours for the furthest walks.
A selection of 2000m high peaks in Canterbury New Zealand that can you climb in a day.
There’s nothing more satisfying for me than climbing a mountain to epic views, then making it down in time for a nice dinner and indoor plumbing. (Yes I’m a princess). Here in Canterbury New Zealand there are many opportunities for such walks. But for an added sense of achievement and adventure, I like to stretch myself and climb a 2000m high peak from the bottom. There are limited opportunities for summitting a 2000m peak in a day due to the often long distances involved, however I’ve managed a few since coming to live in Canterbury, and always have one or two on the to-do list.
My pick of the best day-tramps (hikes) near the holiday town of Wanaka, taking in walks around Lakes Wanaka & Hawea, & in Mt Aspiring National Park.
Wanaka has a reputation for being the lower-key sibling of Queenstown, and there is much to recommend the area. Many excellent day-walks are one of these things. I had only done a few until quite recently, but on my last two trips down that way I fit in a few others that were real classics. So now I feel ready to compile a best-of list, although I’m sure there are others to add.
The walks on this list can broadly be split into two groups – those around Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea, and those in Mt Aspiring National Park. The land around the lakes is generally lacking forest cover, whereas the national park is a bit lusher. There are some tall glaciated peaks in Mt Aspiring National Park as well, so the scale is grander.
Six of my favourite hikes from three occasions walking in the state of Victoria, Australia. From easy to hard, so something for everybody.
Until Christmas 2017 I hadn’t walked anywhere in Victoria, perhaps thinking it wouldn’t be so different from NSW. I was pleasantly surprised on that first trip, so much so that we stopped by Victoria on two subsequent trips to Tasmania. The walks we’ve done have been of a high quality, and included experiences that can’t be had in NSW.
These include climbing almost 2000m high mountains from the bottom in a day, such as Mt Bogong (1986m) and Mt Feathertop (1920m). Nearby Mt Buffalo (1723m) and the further flung Grampians Range are unique and rugged landscapes that have numerous walking tracks. And the small but prominent Cathedral Range in Central Victoria offers another unique walking experience.
Ten of my favourite bushwalks in the unique alpine and sub-alpine landscape of Australia’s Kosciuszko National Park.
Kosciuszko National Park contains mainland Australia’s highest ground. The area looms large in the Australian imagination, an exotic landscape tied to the frontier spirit through epic poems like The Man From Snow River.
The highest ground of the Main Range contains all of the nation’s ten highest peaks, and lies in the southern section of the park. It’s a unique alpine landscape of grasslands, herb fields, and delicate sections of bogs, fens, and stony fjeldmark vegetation. The peaks are generally not very prominent, that is, unless you venture over to the Western Ranges, and my first pick of the walks takes in those vistas. There are glacial lakes, and Blue Lake is a real highlight visited on three of my top ten walks. At lower elevations there are iconic snow gums, one of Australia’s most distinctive and hardy eucalyptus trees.
The northern section of Kosciuszko National Park is not so elevated, and perhaps lacks the glamour of the alpine region. Nevertheless, we discovered some excellent short walks taking in spectacular and atmospheric gorges and waterfalls, so it’s definitely worth a visit.
With mountains galore, a picturesque coastline, and unique plants and animals, Tasmania offers some of Australia’s best hiking options.
The mountainous island state of Tasmania offers probably Australia’s best hiking. It’s the only place in the country where you can find a high concentration of pointy rugged mountains for a start. There are many plants and animals unique to Tasmania, and this wildlife tends to be more visible than in the south-eastern states of the mainland. The landscape is also unique, with a variety of vegetation from rainforest to alpine heath, many attractive waterfalls, and a lot of rock on offer, including sometimes extensive boulder fields (I’m a particular fan of boulder hopping).
Experience some of New Zealand’s best scenery on these classic day-hikes near Glenorchy, just 45 minutes drive from Queenstown.
The sleepy village of Glenorchy sits in a dramatic landscape at the northern end of Lake Wakatipu. It’s a spectacular 45 minute drive from Queenstown along the shore of the lake, and worth making the trip for the drive alone. The scenery on offer is amongst the best in New Zealand, and there are some really world-class hikes in the area, including the famous multi-day Routeburn Track.
Following are my favourite day-hikes around Glenorchy. There are majestic mountains, alpine lakes, glaciers, tumbling streams, and atmospheric beech forest. And you might be joined by some of New Zealand’s friendly bird life along the way.