Rat Hill via Redcliffe Stream, Canterbury NZ

An attractive and varied walk through native shrublands besides Redcliffe Stream & up to the summit of Rat Hill (1450m) for views of rugged high peaks.

This was a very pleasant walk with good variety, and felt quite remote for a day walk. You start walking up rocky Redcliffe Stream surrounded by native scrublands on steep-sided hills. In early October the Kowhai trees were in bloom adding to this already attractive scenery. As you climb up the stream you eventually reach tussock flats, then commence the steep climb up Rat Hill (1450m) with great views over ruggedly attractive 2000m peaks in the Black Hill and Mt Hutt Ranges. Another walk to exceed expectations. Continue reading “Rat Hill via Redcliffe Stream, Canterbury NZ”

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.

Kellys Hill via Carroll Hut, Arthur’s Pass National Park NZ

A steep climb through lush West Coast forest to Kellys Hill (1394m) via Carroll Hut for excellent views over numerous peaks and valleys in Arthur’s Pass National Park and to the west.

This is a nice but steep walk up through lush West Coast forest to Carroll Hut, then up to Kellys Hill (1394m) on a marked route for excellent views over Arthur’s Pass National Park and out to the West Coast. There’s some scrambling required in a few places to get up through the forest, but otherwise it’s a fairly straightforward and shorter walk than many in Arthur’s Pass. It’s a good option if you want a West Coast experience that is accessible from Christchurch in a day, and you don’t mind a rough forest track. Continue reading “Kellys Hill via Carroll Hut, Arthur’s Pass National Park NZ”

Mt Clara via Fowlers Pass, St James Conservation Area, Canterbury NZ

A remote feeling tramp to the summit of Mt Clara (1945m) in the St James Conservation Area, with spectacular views, especially in winter.

Although I’d read about the walk to Mt Clara (1945m) before, I decided to do it when the knowledgeable owner of Hanmer Backpackers (Tristan) recommended it to us. In winter conditions it turned out to be one of the better walks we’ve done. The conditions on the tops in winter were proper alpine, and the views north and east in particular were quite spectacular. And you get those views for much of the walk. It’s a long and remote enough tramp to be a bit adventurous, but short enough to fit comfortably into a long winter’s day. Continue reading “Mt Clara via Fowlers Pass, St James Conservation Area, Canterbury NZ”

Travers Peak via Foleys Track, Lewis Pass, Canterbury NZ

A classic tramp in the Lewis Pass region to the summit of Travers Peak (1724m), with great views and attractive forest on the climb up.

The climb to Travers Peak (1724m) is another partially tracked walk in the Lewis Pass Region that offers nice forest walking then excellent views from the tops. We did this walk in winter when there was quite a bit of snow on the tops, and this added to views over high mountains to the north especially. It’s not such a long walk, about 4 hours in total, so you you get good value for effort on this tramp. Continue reading “Travers Peak via Foleys Track, Lewis Pass, Canterbury NZ”

Woolshed Hill Track, Arthur’s Pass National Park NZ

The Woolshed Hill Track is an excellent walk of only moderate difficulty with great views over peaks & valleys in Arthur’s Pass National Park from the summit at 1429m.

I’d been saving the Woolshed Hill Track for winter, when I thought I could get good snowy views for moderate effort and without avalanche risk. The walk certainly delivered, with excellent views from the summit of Woolshed Hill (1429m) over the Waimakariri, Hawdon and Andrews Valleys, and many of other snow capped peaks in Arthur’s Pass including Mt Binser and the Pyramid. And there was enough snow on the tops to make it feel a bit alpine up there, (although somebody who walked it a week later said the snow had gone). Continue reading “Woolshed Hill Track, Arthur’s Pass National Park NZ”

Big Hill – Arrow River Circuit, Arrowtown NZ

A nice circuit walk out the back of Arrowtown, taking in tussock country on Big Hill (1137m), & a section of the Arrow River and Gorge.

This was another great walk out the back of Arrowtown near Queenstown. The route first climbs steadily from the edge of town steadily to Big Hill Saddle, passing through a mix of vegetation including a pleasant stand of beech forest. Then it’s up and over Big Hill itself, with views of the region’s typically wrinkly, tussock grass covered topography that looks particularly attractive in winter lighting. Continue reading “Big Hill – Arrow River Circuit, Arrowtown NZ”

Moke Lake Viewpoint & Williamson Spur, Queenstown NZ

It’s a short but steep climb to the informal Moke Lake Viewpoint, then an adventurous scramble up Williamson Spur for ever expanding views.

The informal Moke Lake Viewpoint is an increasingly popular spot to visit for views of this scenic lake and surrounding area. The lookout is on the Williamson Spur, and adventurous trampers can head further up the spur for increasingly good views that exceeded my expectations. There’s quite rugged scenery to the north, and the spur itself is pretty gnarly, plus expanding views of Moke Lake as you climb higher. Certainly the misty weather helped add some character to the views, but I’m sure clear weather would reveal some nice scenes we missed out on.

Continue reading “Moke Lake Viewpoint & Williamson Spur, Queenstown NZ”

Mt Cassidy – Blimit Traverse, Arthur’s Pass National Park NZ

Fabulous alpine views, lovely beech forest, and a good amount of adventure on the Mt Cassidy – Blimit Traverse at Arthur’s Pass.

The Mt Cassidy – Blimit Traverse starts on the Cons Track and finishes on the Temple Basin Track and Arthur’s Pass Walking Track. But in between it is one of the more adventurous of the very accessible walks starting on the highway at Arthur’s Pass. I’ve got used to these walks being spectacular but I think this one probably took the views to a new level.

You get to bag two peaks, Mt Cassidy (1850m) and Blimit (1922m, apparently short for “Bloody Limit”), the latter being a longish scramble to probably the best views of the day. Returning via Temple Basin makes it a quite varied circuit. Apart from epic alpine vistas, there is very attractive beech forest on the way up the Cons Track, amongst the nicest I’ve seen in New Zealand. So for views and adventure in a medium to long day this route is hard to beat. Continue reading “Mt Cassidy – Blimit Traverse, Arthur’s Pass National Park NZ”

Coal Hill Track, Mt Peel Conservation Area, Canterbury NZ

The Coal Hill Track takes you up steeply through tussock grass to the summit of Coal Hill (1617m), with excellent views the whole way.

The Coal Hill Track takes you 1000m pretty much straight up to the summit of Coal Hill (1617m), with great views over the surrounding mountains, the Rangitata River, and east over the Canterbury Plains. These mountains include Mt Taylor to the north, nearby Mt Harper, the Main Divide to the north-west, and nearby Mt Peel to the south. There’s also views towards the open ground around the Ashburton Lakes. Continue reading “Coal Hill Track, Mt Peel Conservation Area, Canterbury NZ”