Doolans Creek tarns via Wye Creek tarns, Hector Mountains, Otago NZ

More tarns than you could ever hope for on this route past Wye Creek and on to the Doolans Creek tarns in the rugged Hector Mountains.

At the rugged northern end of the Hector Mountains, and behind the iconic Remarkables Range near Queenstown, are about fifteen scenic tarns. There are five in the Wye Creek Basin, and ten in the rather more remote area above Doolans Creek East Branch. A ridge of rugged peaks separates the two clusters. Most of these tarns are enormous, deep, and all of them scenic. The Wye Creek tarns are set amongst tussock grassland with Single Cone towering overhead. And the Doolans Creek tarns are dotted around rocky terrain with patches of golden tussock. For anybody that likes tarns I can’t imagine a better two day route. Continue reading “Doolans Creek tarns via Wye Creek tarns, Hector Mountains, Otago NZ”

Mt Pfeifer and Pfeifer Bivvy, Arthur’s Pass National Park, West Coast NZ

Stay overnight in Pfeifer Bivvy, and get exceptional views from the summit of nearby Mt Pfeifer (1704m), on the West Coast side of Arthur’s Pass National Park.

Billed as a lesser visited site, the increasingly popular Pfeifer Bivvy and Mt Pfeifer offer exceptional views deep into Arthur’s Pass National Park. Only the very fit would manage this in a day, so for most it will be quite a hard slog with full pack to stay in the hut or camp nearby. A side trip to summit Mt Pfeifer is well worth it. You’re likely to summit the mountain later in the day, or else early the next, and so the 360 degree views will be enhance by the angled light. Enjoy 🙂 Continue reading “Mt Pfeifer and Pfeifer Bivvy, Arthur’s Pass National Park, West Coast NZ”

Cameron Hut Route, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ

Walk up the Cameron Valley and spend the night at Cameron Hut in a spectacular alpine setting under the towering Arrowsmith Range.

Famous for its distinctive purple door, and of course it’s wild alpine setting, Cameron Hut makes for a great 2-3 day trip. We stayed two nights and I fit in a solo climb of The Marquee (2412m), extending my sense of adventure significantly. But even if you visit only the hut you’ll be agog at peaks in the Arrowsmith Range towering above you, as you cook dinner surrounded by lumps and ridges of glacial moraine. It’s a special location. Continue reading “Cameron Hut Route, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ”

The Marquee from Cameron Hut, Arrowsmith Range, Canterbury NZ

The challenging climb of The Marquee (2421m) gives ‘entry level’ access to the Arrowsmith Range & all the alpine grandeur that comes with it.

The challenging climb of The Marquee (2421m), in Canterbury’s Arrowsmith Range, offers a real experience of alpine grandeur. You get panoramic views of multiple glaciated peaks in the Arrowsmith Range, which tops out at Mt Arrowsmith (2780m). In other directions you lord it over many high mountain ranges, and the upstream Rakaia River snakes away to the north-east. Continue reading “The Marquee from Cameron Hut, Arrowsmith Range, Canterbury NZ”

Mt Technical, Lucretia and The Apprentice, Lewis Pass, Canterbury/ West Coast NZ

Big views of peaks, valleys and tarns on this challenging hike to Mt Technical (1870m), with extra peaks Lucretia & The Apprentice thrown in.

By some definitions Mt Technical (1870m) is the most northerly substantial peak in the Southern Alps / Kā Tiritiri o te Moana. The names suggests it might be out of reach for the average tramper/hiker, but there is one route that is non-technical, though there are still some challenges. Views from the top over the Lewis Pass area are predictably excellent, being the highest peak for some distance. Glacier carved and forested valleys intersect peaks and grassy tops, and there are tarns dotted all over the place. Continue reading “Mt Technical, Lucretia and The Apprentice, Lewis Pass, Canterbury/ West Coast NZ”

The Dome ascent, Arthur’s Pass National Park, Canterbury NZ

Top class views in all directions on your way up the Dome (1945m), on this sometimes challenging route in Arthur’s Pass National Park.

The Dome (1945m) looms over anybody driving into Arthur’s Pass National Park from the east, standing on the northern edge of the Waimakariri River. The views on offer from the ridge to the summit include the river and countless mountains to the south, which would be enough for most people. But the highlights are in fact impressive mountain ranges and valleys in the national park in all other directions, especially to the north. Certainly some of the best views we’ve seen in this area on a day walk, and there are no bad walks in Arthur’s Pass. You’ll earn these views though, with no easy way up or down the mountain. Continue reading “The Dome ascent, Arthur’s Pass National Park, Canterbury NZ”

Mt Catherine via south ridge, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ

Excellent views & good variety on this long ridge walk up Mt Catherine (2085m) from the south, with scenic options to return via scree slopes, streams & the TA.

I had unfinished business on Mt Catherine (2085m) in Hakatere Conservation Park near Lake Heron. I tried climbing it from the west in winter, but didn’t make the summit. This time I climbed it from the south on a long ridge, taking a scenic variation on the way back to complete a very satisfying day out.

There are views for miles from the ridge, of Lake Heron and its distinctive neighbour Sugarloaf, the Arrowsmith Range, and countless barren mountains to the north and east, many over 2000m high.  My return route along a stream down to the Te Araroa was very pleasant, and included the most dangerously beautiful speargrass I’ve ever seen. Continue reading “Mt Catherine via south ridge, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ”

Kohurau – Awakino Circuit, St Marys Range, Canterbury NZ

Wide open views over Central Otago and the Waitaki Valley on this circuit walk up to Kohurau / Mt Kurow (2009m) in the St Marys Range.

Our first time to walk in the St Marys Range in the far south of Canterbury, where we climbed Kohurau (2009m; Mt Kurow on some maps). There are definite similarities to nearby Central Otago mountains, with tussock covered slopes giving way to desolate rocky alpine tops, and wide open views as far as Aoraki Mt Cook. It’s certainly a uniquely stark aesthetic, overlooking remote country to the south and west. This was in fact our second time in as many weeks to circumnavigate a ski field – this time Awakino Ski Field – a very small operation run by  Waitaki Ski Club. Continue reading “Kohurau – Awakino Circuit, St Marys Range, Canterbury NZ”

Blue Hill – Willis Peak – Porters Circuit, Craigieburn Range, Canterbury NZ

Big views on this circuit around Porters ski field, taking in Blue Hill (1946m) and Willis Peak (1962m) in the Craigieburn Range.

One of my earlier walks in Canterbury was up Red Hill, with fabulous views of Lake Coleridge and surrounds. Opposite Red Hill is the taller Blue Hill (1946m) in the Craigieburn Range, a steep climb on mostly scree from the Porter Heights Access Road, which provides access to the ski field. From there a very easy ridge walk gets you to nearby Willis Peak (1962m; which is unnamed on some maps). The views from these two peaks are similarly good, those from Willis Peak being a particularly impressive jumble of lumpy arid mountains, backed by tall peaks in the Southern Alps. To extend your adventure and views you can complete a circuit by circumnavigating the Porters ski field, descending to the road on a spur from point 1997m. Continue reading “Blue Hill – Willis Peak – Porters Circuit, Craigieburn Range, Canterbury NZ”

Mt Sinclair ascent, Te Kahui Kaupeka Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ

An adventurous route up past a very scenic tarn to the summit of Mt Sinclair (2065m) with spectacular views, especially to the north.

It took me quite a while to get around to climbing Mt Sinclair (2065m), though I’d had my eyes on it for a couple of years. The mountain sits a fairly long way from anywhere, south of the Rangitata River, and the way up is not so obvious. I expect most people who visit do so by helicopter, landing next to the picturesque tarn at about 1600m. The tarn is indeed very nice, and could be a worthy destination on foot, but views from the summit are pretty spectacular and worth the extra climb. Perhaps the highlight are views north over countless high peaks, including the Two Thumbs Range to the NW. Continue reading “Mt Sinclair ascent, Te Kahui Kaupeka Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ”