Mt Somers & The Pinnacles Circuit, Canterbury NZ

A classic circuit walk taking in two major attractions, the summit of Mt Somers (1688m) with great views, & the spectacular Pinnacles rock formations.

On our first time up Mt Somers (1688m) we missed some of the views north and west due to cloud, but no such problem this time. You get wide open views of the Southern Alps, of Mt Taylor, the highest peak in the Canterbury Foothills, and east over the Canterbury Plains. Wander a bit around the summit plateau to get the best views in all directions. And to turn this already good walk into a real classic, descend off-track on the northern side of the mountain, and return along the Mt Somers Track past the spectacular Pinnacles rock formations.

It’s a pretty long walk and will require experience in snow and ice during the winter. Track notes at the end.

Mt Somers & The Pinnacles Circuit: The Scenery

I’ve mixed in shots from our first time up the mountain in May 2020, and the rest are from September 2021. First are some of the May shots…

Mt Somers from Sharplin Falls Reserve
Climbing through lush forest.
Mt Somers from Sharplin Falls Reserve
Ferns!
The beech trees were often covered in a black moss.
Mt Somers from Sharplin Falls Reserve
Sophia looks like she about to tunnel through this forest of manuka.

Now to September…

Mt Somers & Pinnacles Circuit, Canterbury
On the way up through heath vegetation, the Canterbury Plains as backdrop.
Mt Somers & Pinnacles Circuit, Canterbury
The snowy south face of Mt Somers.
Mt Somers & Pinnacles Circuit, Canterbury
The final push to the summit.
Mt Somers & Pinnacles Circuit, Canterbury
Nice contrast in this photo.
Mt Somers & Pinnacles Circuit, Canterbury
Looking back along the final ridge to the summit.
Mt Somers & Pinnacles Circuit, Canterbury
Mt Winterslow in the foreground, with the Old Man Range left back.
Mt Somers & Pinnacles Circuit, Canterbury
Mt Taylor (2333m) somewhere at the back there.
Mt Somers & Pinnacles Circuit, Canterbury
A panorama north.
Mt Somers & Pinnacles Circuit, Canterbury
Panoramic views west.
Mt Somers & Pinnacles Circuit, Canterbury
Looking west.

Throwing in one more from May 2020, then back to the rest from September…

Mt Somers from Sharplin Falls Reserve
Mt D’Archiac from Mt Somers. The Clent Hills in the foreground. (May 2020)

On our descent now…

Mt Somers & Pinnacles Circuit, Canterbury
Mt Winterslow (1700m).
Mt Somers & Pinnacles Circuit, Canterbury
First look at the what I presume are The Pinnacles.
Mt Somers & Pinnacles Circuit, Canterbury
More of The Pinnacles.
Mt Somers & Pinnacles Circuit, Canterbury
A waterfall on the Mt Somers Track.
Mt Somers & Pinnacles Circuit, Canterbury
A panorama of The Pinnacles, on the north side of Mt Somers.
Mt Somers & Pinnacles Circuit, Canterbury
Pinnacles Hut
Mt Somers & Pinnacles Circuit, Canterbury
The track followed Bowyers Stream for a while.

Mt Somers & Pinnacles Circuit, Canterbury

Mt Somers & Pinnacles Circuit, Canterbury
This tree has distinctive bark. I think it might be New Zealand Tree Fuchsia.

Track Notes

Mt Somers & Pinnacles Circuit, Canterbury
Walking clockwise, there’s a marked track from Sharplin Falls Reserve car park to the junction with the Mt Somers Summit Track. From there it’s a sparsely poled route to the summit. From the summit it’s easy walking past point 1595 to a rocky spur that you can take down to the Mt Somers Track. Take this back past Pinnacles Hut to the start. Some sections of this were a bit rough and involved multiple stream crossings.

Walking clockwise, there’s a marked track from Sharplin Falls Reserve car park to the junction with the Mt Somers Summit Track. From there it’s a sparsely poled route to the summit.

From the summit it’s easy walking past point 1595 to a rocky spur that you can take down to the Mt Somers Track. Take this back past Pinnacles Hut to the start. Some sections of this were a bit rough and involved multiple stream crossings. You can of course return back along the outward route from the summit, which is a shorter option. 

There’s more info on tracks in the area on the DOC website.

Best Summit Day-Hikes in South-East Australia

Australia may be the flattest continent on Earth, but it still has some great mountains. Here are my favourites from the south-eastern corner that you can climb in a day.

There’s nothing more satisfying to me than climbing a mountain from the bottom in a day. It’s my favourite form of hiking, combining the best views with a sense of achievement. It seems I’m built for short but steep hikes. The steeper they are the more of an adrenaline fuelled high I get, and rugged mountainous landscapes add to this natural high. And by completing the walk in a day I can then return to the comforts of civilisation, such as indoor plumbing.

Continue reading “Best Summit Day-Hikes in South-East Australia”

Grandview Mountain Track, Lake Hawea, Otago

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On entering New Zealand in March 2020 we were soon hit with increasingly severe restrictions due to the Covid 19 epidemic. Before the complete lock-down we snuck in a final hike to the summit of Grandview Mountain at the southern end of Lake Hawea, a new walk for us. The views from the top were indeed grand, although I most liked the views of rugged country we passed by along the way in the Grandview Creek Conservation Area. Continue reading “Grandview Mountain Track, Lake Hawea, Otago”

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Our second time to do this really excellent circuit walk, which offers extensive views over Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu, rugged alpine scenery, and enough exposure on the Queens Drive portion to get the heart pumping. You won’t find many more dramatic and yet accessible day-walks than this. Continue reading “Queens Drive – Wye Creek Circuit (autumn), Remarkables Range NZ”

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You can get good views of Wentworth Falls, in the Upper Blue Mountains, on three excellent circuit walks: via the National Pass, Wentworth Pass (no separate post for this), and via Hippocrene and Vera Falls. But if you want to see the falls in all their glory without much effort, then I can highly recommend the short walk down to Princes Rock Lookout from the Wentworth Falls picnic area. Continue reading “Princes Rock Walking Track, Wentworth Falls, Blue Mountains NSW”

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The must do circuit walk in the Warrumbungles, taking in famous views of the Breadknife from Grand High Tops, and a visit to Bluff Mountain (1200m) where there are more great views.

The Grand High Tops Circuit with an added side trip to Bluff Mountain (1200m) is arguably the best walk in the Warrumbungles, especially for views. From Grand High Tops there are classic views of the pleasingly named rock formation, The Breadknife, which is a tall, thin and sheer slice of rock that you pass on the way up. There are also great views of nearby Crater Bluff, and of Belougery Spire, both prominent and striking hunks of rock. Continue reading “Bluff Mountain & Grand High Tops, Warrumbungle National Park NSW”

Ferntree Gully Circuit, near Rylstone NSW

The circuit walk through Ferntree Gully Reserve passes through a scenic gully containing interesting rainforest vegetation. This includes various types of ferns as the name suggests, as well as vines and trailing roots reaching down over rocks to find the ground below. There are also good views from above the gully. It’s a short but rewarding walk that I recommend if you are in the region around Rylstone. Continue reading “Ferntree Gully Circuit, near Rylstone NSW”

Wentworth Falls Circuit via Hippocrene & Vera Falls, Blue Mountains NSW

An excellent circuit at Wentworth Falls that takes in numerous waterfalls of all shapes and sizes, including the lesser visited Hippocrene Falls and Vera Falls.

An excellent circuit walk taking in a less travelled section of the Jamison Valley at Wentworth Falls. There are the usual grand sandstone cliffs the region is famous for, as well as numerous waterfalls of all shapes and sizes. Continue reading “Wentworth Falls Circuit via Hippocrene & Vera Falls, Blue Mountains NSW”

Wollomombi and Chandler Walking Tracks, Oxley Wild Rivers National Park NSW

Spectacular gorge scenery on these two shortish walks along the edge of Wollomombi Gorge in Oxley Wild Rivers National Park.

Two shortish walks here that are filled with spectacular gorge scenery. The scenery is quite different from the valleys around Sydney, and one of my Instagram followers thought it reminiscent of the Italian Alps. I’ve never been, although I see plenty of the Dolomites on Instragram, and I think she was referring to the preponderance of steep rocky slopes. There are big waterfalls here as well, and in fact Wollomombi Falls is the third tallest in Australia, however we didn’t see a single falls with water in them on our trip, due to dry conditions. Definitely worth the visit nevertheless. Continue reading “Wollomombi and Chandler Walking Tracks, Oxley Wild Rivers National Park NSW”

Apsley Gorge Rim Circuit, Oxely Wild Rivers National Park NSW

A very short and accessible walk around the rim of Apsley Gorge, with good views of Apsley Falls and the vertical walls of the gorge. 

A very short and accessible walk around the rim of Apsley Gorge. There are good views of the falls, and of the vertical slate walls of the gorge. We arrived at this spot in twilight so we were unable to do the slightly longer walk around the other side of the gorge, but I did manage to get a few shots in before the sun went down. Track notes at the end.

Continue reading “Apsley Gorge Rim Circuit, Oxely Wild Rivers National Park NSW”