Heaphy Track to Big Rock Beach & Swan Burn, Kahurangi National Park, West Coast NZ

A very attractive coastal section of the multi-day Heaphy Track, taking in many highlights of West Coast scenery in just half a day.

I was keen to see some quintessential West Coast scenery when we visited the Coast’s northernmost town of Karamea for the first time. A four kilometre section of the multiday Heaphy Track offers just that: a selection of nikau palm lined beaches, lush rainforest and river scenery. The brochures suggest the hour long walk to Scotts Beach as a short day-walk, but continuing on to Big Rock Beach and Swanburn Bridge provides better scenery for not much more effort. I was especially impressed with the nikau palms besides Big Rock Beach, and dense bush lining the Swan Burn (River). Continue reading “Heaphy Track to Big Rock Beach & Swan Burn, Kahurangi National Park, West Coast NZ”

Buckland Peaks Track, Paparoa National Park, West Coast NZ

Exceptional views over the Paparoa Range from the Buckland Peaks. Stay at the hut or camp out to give yourself more time to explore the tops.

I’d come across the Buckland Peaks Track while looking over topo maps, and it looked like a doozy. With a two day weather window and some mid week leave planned, my wife Sophia and I headed over to the West Coast and spent a night camping up on the Buckland Peaks tops. The views are exceptional, and with a decent sized plateau to wander around you can get numerous perspectives on peaks in the Paparoa Range, views inland, and views up and down the coast. Continue reading “Buckland Peaks Track, Paparoa National Park, West Coast NZ”

Mt Norma Route, Lewis Pass, Canterbury NZ

A lesser known walk up Mt Norma (1722m) in the Lewis Pass region, with spectacular views of numerous mountain peaks and glacial valleys.

I came across the Mt Norma Access Track on my way up Nina Valley, and as always got a bit excited at the prospect of another easily accessible mountain summit in the Lewis Pass area. I waited a long time for a good weather window to get up there, but it finally came in the middle of a very snowy winter, so the views of mountain peaks and valleys galore were extra beautiful. With so much snow this turned out to be a bit adventurous also, and probably the closest we’ve come to mountaineering.

Continue reading “Mt Norma Route, Lewis Pass, Canterbury NZ”

Moorhouse Range Tops, Tenahaun Conservation Area, Canterbury NZ

Excellent views of the Rangitata River and north-east towards Mt Taylor from the top of the Moorhouse Range (point 1153m).

This lesser known walk to the tops of the Moorhouse Range offers really excellent views of the Rangitata River and Harper Range to the west, and many other peaks including Mt Taylor to the north. There’s just 650m ascent and a fairly straightforward scrub bash to get these views, and you’re unlikely to meet anybody else. We did this walk after quite heavy snowfall so the views were extra good. Continue reading “Moorhouse Range Tops, Tenahaun Conservation Area, Canterbury NZ”

Rangitata Gorge on the Tenahaun Track, Canterbury NZ

An unexpectedly attractive walk through the Rangitata Gorge on the Tenahaun Track, to a viewpoint over mountains to the west.

The Tenahaun Track through the Rangitata Gorge was one of many NZ walks to exceed expectations. Starting near an irrigation canal diversion, the track is through private farmland almost the whole way, but the majority of it through the Rangitata Gorge is spectacular. When out of the gorge you can continue in a couple of directions, but we stopped on some rocks for views over plains to the Harper Range and over the Southern Alps. A very satisfying day out. Continue reading “Rangitata Gorge on the Tenahaun Track, Canterbury NZ”

Chain Hills Circuit, Lindis Valley, Otago NZ

A circuit through the Chain Hills for front and centre views of one of Central Otago’s most attractive mountain ranges, the St Bathans Range.

After first seeing the St Bathans Range with a bit of snow on it I had always wanted to visit and see them up close. So it was after plenty of snowfall that we headed out to a walk in the Chain Hills for front and centre views of this classic Central Otago scene. In snow the walk was scenic up on the tops, and felt quite remote for a day-walk of just moderate difficulty. And you can make a circuit of it by taking the Shilmar, Chain Hills and Long Acre Tracks. Continue reading “Chain Hills Circuit, Lindis Valley, Otago NZ”

Double Peak from Lindis Pass, Otago / Canterbury NZ

A short but steep climb to Double Peak (1323m) for spectacular views over the Lindis Pass Scenic Reserve, on the Otago/Canterbury border.

The Lindis Pass Scenic Reserve is a particularly attractive area of tussock covered mountains bisected by state highway 8.  If you have driven between Otago and Canterbury along this route then you may have stopped at the Lindis Pass viewpoint for a quick look. This is already very nice, but to supercharge your views then invest around 1.5 hours heading up to Double Peak (1323m). Continue reading “Double Peak from Lindis Pass, Otago / Canterbury NZ”

Lake Angelus Hut via Robert Ridge, Nelson Lakes National Park NZ

A real classic overnight tramp to Angelus Hut at Lake Angelus, in Nelson Lakes National Park, taking the rugged and scenic Robert Ridge Route.

In my days of only doing day-walks I had often looked enviously at pictures of Lake Angelus (at 1650m), in Nelson Lakes National Park, thinking it was too far for a day-trip. It turns out you can do it in a day, even in winter, (we saw a few trail runners doing just that). But for time to soak in the views there are few better overnighters than the Robert Ridge Route to Angelus Hut.

The route first climbs Mt Robert (1421m) on the Pinchgut Track, where there are good views of Lake Rotoiti and west over plains to Mt Owen. (If you wanted a short day walk you could then return via Paddy’s Track to make a circuit). From there it’s along the increasingly rugged Robert Ridge, peaking at 1788m, before dropping to the shores of Lake Angelus at 1650m. The views start good and just keep getting better: a real classic. Continue reading “Lake Angelus Hut via Robert Ridge, Nelson Lakes National Park NZ”

Bush Creek Track, Arrowtown NZ

A very pleasant and easy walk at Arrowtown up the Bush Creek Track through a gorge as far as a saddle, where there are views over the Wakatipu Basin.

I’d done part of the Bush Creek Track a few months earlier on a loop taking in Brow Peak, and quite liked that section. So on a clear Autumn day we returned to do the whole thing, and I was pleasantly surprised. The walk offers a wide variety of native and non-native vegetation along the pleasant Bush Creek, which eventually passes through a gorge on its way to a saddle, where there are good views over the Wakatipu Basin. I liked the open aspect of the upper sections, and the rugged cliffs lining the gorge. There are also nice stands of beech forest and some autumn colours early on in the walk courtesy of introduced trees. Continue reading “Bush Creek Track, Arrowtown NZ”

Devils Creek Track to Mt Kinaki, Bendigo Conservation Area, Central Otago NZ

Central Otago at its finest on the Devils Creek Track to Mt Kinaki (1309m). Arid, rocky landscapes including the deeply cut Devils Creek as a highlight.

Many day-walks in Central Otago are let down somewhat by a long walk in weedy farmland to get to a conservation area, and then before you know it, it’s time to return. On paper the walk up Devils Creek Track to Mt Kinaki (1309m) is just this kind of walk, although I thought the topography of Devils Creek held some promise. Well, I ended up enjoying this walk from start to finish. In perfect mid-autumn conditions the colours were just lovely, including the weeds, and the rocky slopes of the Dunstan Range were otherworldy. But it was Devils Creek itself that stole the show – a fabulously deep cut, arid and rocky valley that I think earns its devilish name. You also get views back towards Lake Dunstan and the 1963m Pisa Range. Continue reading “Devils Creek Track to Mt Kinaki, Bendigo Conservation Area, Central Otago NZ”