Tama Lakes and Taranaki Falls, Tongariro National Park NZ

The Tama Lakes / Taranaki Falls Track is an attractive walk through Tongariro National Park, with good views of both the big volcanoes.

The Tama Lakes Track is sometimes billed as a lower-key version of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. It is a very nice walk, but it can’t be compared to the Crossing, which is more spectacular. Nevertheless, it is a unique landscape shaped by volcanic forces, and you’ll share it with a fraction of the people. The Tama Lakes are beautiful, especially the Upper Tama, and you get good views of the big volcanos, Mt Ngāuruhoe and Mt Ruapehu. Taranaki Falls was an unexpected highlight, and is well worth a visit by itself. It’s also an easier walk than the Crossing, although not short at about 18km.

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Tongariro Alpine Crossing, Tongariro National Park NZ

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing takes you through an otherworldly volcanic landscape, and is New Zealand’s most famous day-walk.

We finally did NZ’s most famous day-walk, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, which is on almost all lists of the best day-hikes in the world. It passes through an otherworldly volcanic landscape used for the Mordor scenes in Lord of the Rings.

With some flexibility in our timetable we picked a fine weather day to do the walk. Nevertheless, a rogue weather system brought in unforecasted low cloud just as we arrived at the most spectacular section. Bloody mountain weather! I still got good shots however, if not the very best possible. Continue reading “Tongariro Alpine Crossing, Tongariro National Park NZ”

Mt Owen via Granity Pass Hut, Kahurangi National Park NZ

Mt Owen (1875m) in Kahurangi National Park is one of NZ’s most unique mountains, famous for limestone rock formations & spectacular views.

Mt Owen (1875m) is a fabulously gnarled and crevassed lump of limestone, and the tallest mountain in Kahurangi National Park, at the top of the South Island. As one of the most unique mountains in NZ, climbing it had been on my to do list for a few years. It ended up being the last mountain we climbed on the South Island, before leaving the country after four years living there. There’s not only spectacular views from the summit, but a good variety of plant and bird life, and the final rocky kilometre to the summit is otherworldly. Highly recommended.

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Mt Fox Route to 1646m, West Coast NZ

Grandstand views of New Zealand’s highest peaks from a vantage point at 1646m above Mt Fox on the West Coast.

The ridge above Mt Fox offers grandstand views of the Fox Glacier and Southern Alps Kā Tiritiri o te Moanna, but only if you have the right weather. On this occasion we learned from past experience and chose to camp high on the mountain to give ourselves the best chance of views. These came the following morning, with just enough time to reach our planned vantage point at 1646m before the cloud rolled back in. Our reward for this planning and a lot of hard work were panoramic views of New Zealand’s highest mountains, on this occasion after unseasonable snowfall. One of the grandest vistas we’ve seen to date.

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Mt Burns and Tarns, Fiordland NZ

The route to Mt Burns (1645m) delivers beautiful Fiordland scenery the whole way, including unique plant life, tarns, lakes, peaks & valleys.

Our first time in southern Fiordland, and it did not disappoint. We chose perhaps the easier of two walks to peaks that are accessible from Borland Road, climbing Mt Burns (1645m; the other is Mt Eldrig). It’s a very beautiful landscape packed full of lakes and tarns, and fabulous plants, but far fewer people than the touristy spots further north.

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Valley of the Trolls – Lake Wilson – Mt Erebus, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ

Lake Wilson & the Valley of the Trolls is an absolute classic hike in Mt Aspiring National Park. Add on an adventurous side trip to Mt Erebus (1978m) for even more grandeur.

A visit to the Valley of the Trolls and Lake Wilson had been on my to do list for quite a few years. We finally did it in our last month living in New Zealand, staying a night and climbing to a vantage point high on Mt Erebus on day 2. The area is accessed off the Routeburn Track, which already takes you through some of New Zealand’s best scenery. But this off-track side trip will take the scenery next level.

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Bold Peak from the Glacier Burn Track, Humboldt Mountains NZ

Epic views from Bold Peak (2118m) in the Humboldt Mountains, including of Mt Bonpland, and a good dose of adventure on your way up.

Climbing Bold Peak (2118m) was a very satisfying hiking experience. It was adventurous enough to feel like an achievement, especially doing it by myself. The views of Lake Wakatipu are excellent, but even more impressive are those of a very rugged Mt Bonpland, and the big turquoise coloured tarn in neighbouring Sleepy Hollow. The walk up offers attractions too, from the start in ferny beech forest on a nicely graded track, to a rocky tarn shelf in the latter half of the walk. Continue reading “Bold Peak from the Glacier Burn Track, Humboldt Mountains NZ”

Lake Hope and 2090m, Hector Mountains NZ

A remote day trip in the Hector Mountains visiting Lake Hope and point 2090m for spectacular views of the lake and surrounds.

I once saw Lake Hope from a plane as we flew out of Queenstown after another walking holiday. It looked fabulous and remote, and I wondered whether I’d ever visit this magical spot. Well, obviously I did, because here is my report 🙂 . It was everything I’d hoped: epic, rugged scenery every which way in the rugged Tāpue-o-Uenuku Hector Mountains, the lake a crazy deep blue despite overcast conditions, and a lovely green tarn as a bonus. You also get views of the Remarkables, and both Wye Creek and Wye Creek South Branch. And all this accessed in a day. Continue reading “Lake Hope and 2090m, Hector Mountains NZ”

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”