Queens Drive (part) & Lake Alta, The Remarkables, Queenstown NZ

Three walks high up in the Remarkables Range near Queenstown: tracks to Lake Alta and Shadow Basin Lookout, and for something a little more hair raising, the Queens Drive track. Alpine scenes and spectacular views abound.

Three walks in one here: a straightforward walk up to beautiful Lake Alta from the Remarkables ski fields car park, a shortish climb to wide open views at Shadow Basin Lookout, and the somewhat hair raising Queens Drive track, that runs along a poor excuse for a ledge high up (about 2000m) on the west face of the Remarkables. Seriously spectacular views on the Queens Drive track, but if you don’t have a head for heights then you can just check out the views from Shadow Basin Lookout, which is on the way. Continue reading “Queens Drive (part) & Lake Alta, The Remarkables, Queenstown NZ”

Pipeline Track from the Wolgan Valley, NSW

The Pipeline Track runs between two of the most spectacular valleys in NSW: Wolgan Valley to the east, and the more remote Capertee Valley to the west. In between, the excellent Pagoda Lookout provides views over the Wolgan Valley, and this was our turnaround point for the walk depicted here.

This walk on the Pipeline Track climbs out of the spectacular Wolgan Valley to a high point at Pagoda Lookout. It starts in Newnes Campground surrounded by high cliffs, and at first passes through mining relics from the early twentieth century. The track then climbs up through an attractive gully to excellent views back down into the valley.  Continue reading “Pipeline Track from the Wolgan Valley, NSW”

Main Range Walk & Mt Townsend, Kosciuszko National Park NSW

The Main Range Track is Australia’s highest walk, passing through rare alpine vegetation, and taking in a number of glacial lakes and Australia’s most extensive views. A side trip to Mt Townsend (2210m) is well worth it.

One of NSW and Australia’s classic day walks, the Main Range Walk in Kosciuszko National Park is also Australia’s highest walking track, maintaining an elevation between roughly 1800m and 2200m. It’s a 22km loop through alpine vegetation, taking in glacial lakes and Australia’s most extensive views along the way. The side trip to Australia’s second highest peak, Mt Townsend (2210m), is well worth it, and offers a more interesting experience than the shorter side trip to our highest peak, Mt Kosciuszko (2228m). If you were keen you could do both, but we by passed Kosciuszko as we’d been there before. The walk as depicted here was about 25km with 750m change in elevation. Continue reading “Main Range Walk & Mt Townsend, Kosciuszko National Park NSW”

Earnslaw Burn Track, near Glenorchy NZ

A truly spectacular walk to a tussock basin below the Earnslaw Glacier. Highly recommended for fit walkers or those willing to spend a night there.

You get up close and personal with Mt Earnslaw and its glacier on this mammoth walk, which took my wife and me almost 10 hours. The Earnslaw Burn Track follows the true left bank of the Earnslaw Burn through beech forest up to a tussock basin below the Earnslaw Glacier. Once out of the forest the views will be enough to knock your hiking socks off, and are amongst the best we’ve seen on any day hike. They include the Earnslaw Glacier and numerous waterfalls, big fallen rocks, and we caught sight of an avalanche too. Continue reading “Earnslaw Burn Track, near Glenorchy NZ”

Brewster Hut Track (& ridge below Mt Armstrong), Westland NZ

After a long climb through attractive beech forest you’ll be rewarded with classic South Island views of high mountains, including Mt Brewster & its glacier. Continue upwards from Brewster Hut towards Mt Armstrong for even more views.

This is definitely one of my favourite walks. Starting at the frigidly beautiful Haast River, the track climbs steeply through attractive beech forest to the tree line. It then climbs onto a narrow ridge and up further to Brewster Hut at 1400m of elevation. There are views of many high mountains to the west, and up towards Mt Brewster (2516m) and its glacier. Continue reading “Brewster Hut Track (& ridge below Mt Armstrong), Westland NZ”

Mt Alfred ascent, near Glenorchy NZ

Mt Alfred sits alone on the edge of Mt Aspiring National Park, and the summit provides some of my favourite views in New Zealand.

Mt Alfred stands alone in one of the most picturesque spots in New Zealand. The summit provides some of the finest views in the country, with archetypal scenery north into Mt Aspiring National Park, and south over Lake Wakatipu. The Dart River runs from the former into the latter, and adds to the already starkly contrasting colours. Continue reading “Mt Alfred ascent, near Glenorchy NZ”

Sealy Tarns & beyond to ~1740m, Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park NZ

Really spectacular views the whole way on this steep alpine walk to Sealy Tarns and beyond, in Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park.

A really spectacular (and steep) alpine walk in Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park to two excellent vantage points: first to the attractive Sealy Tarns at 1300m, and then for the energetic continue on up the hill towards Mueller Hut onto a spur at about 1740m of elevation. There are views of Mt Sefton (3151m), NZ’s highest peak Aoraki/Mt Cook (3755m), various glaciers and glacier lakes, and the Hooker River Valley 1000m below. Highly recommended. Continue reading “Sealy Tarns & beyond to ~1740m, Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park NZ”

Hooker Valley Track, Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park NZ

Spectacular scenery for moderate effort on this classic walk in Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park. Take your camera!

One of New Zealand’s classic walks, the Hooker Valley Track takes you over the Hooker River and some of its tributaries on swingbridges as far as the glacial Hooker Lake. There’s dramatic alpine scenery all the way, and particularly good views of Aoraki/Mt Cook framed by mountains along the Hooker Valley, and then across Hooker Lake, which will be frozen in winter, and might have icebergs floating in it in spring/summer. And you can fit it easily into a half day. Continue reading “Hooker Valley Track, Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park NZ”

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park near Wanaka

Access to close up views of the spectacular Rob Roy Glacier for only moderate effort on this popular walk in Mt Aspiring National Park near Wanaka.

The Rob Roy Glacier Track was one of the first walks we did in New Zealand, and provides access to excellent views of the Roy Roy Glacier. There are impressive waterfalls along the way, as well as picturesque scenes in the West Matukituki Valley. The drive in is also nice, so there’s lots to recommend this walk. 

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
On the drive in.

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
Matukituki River West Branch on the drive in.

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park

Nevertheless, friends who walked this with us in 2014 preferred the Routeburn Track to Flats Hut. But the views at the end of this walk are pretty spectacular, so I think it’s worth doing for those alone. It’s a fairly popular track so consider doing it on a weekday or out of season.  Track notes at the end.

Rob Roy Glacier Track: The Scenery

We did this walk in 2008, 2012 and 2014, so I’ve included pictures from each of those occasions. Don’t be confused by the apparent change of weather conditions.

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
The trusty Landcruiser at the start. Apparently there have been thefts at this car park, so they recommend you take your valuables with you.

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
Crossing the Matukituki River West Branch.

 

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
Matukituki River West Branch

 

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
Matukituki River West Branch

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
We had friends with us in 2014.

 

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
Sophia having a rest.

 

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
West Matukituki Valley.

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
Some sense of scale in this shot.

 

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
A 261m drop on this waterfall.

 

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
The 261m high waterfall unofficially named Bridal Veil Falls. (A lot of waterfalls have that name it seems).

 

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
Bridal Veil Falls (in 2008).

 

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
Rob Roy Glacier

 

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
A close up of the glacier.

 

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
Sophia backed by the glacier.

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
Lots of waterfalls running off the glacier.

 

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
This kea looks like it is posing for a portrait painting.

 

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
Kea close up.

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
I want what you’re having.

 

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
Warm, lush colours.

 

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
Different colours in 2008.

 

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
On the way back.

Track Notes

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mt Aspiring National Park
An obvious track the whole way.

The DOC website has basic information on the walk. It’s about an hour from Wanaka, and over 2 hours from Queenstown. There’s a few streams to ford on the drive in so they recommend a four wheel drive if there’s been heavy rain (or maybe glacier melt?).

Cape Raoul Track, Tasman Peninsula, Tasmania

One of Tasmania’s classic coastal walks to the tip of the Tasman Peninsula. There are spectacular dolerite cliffs and great coastal views.

We did the Cape Raoul Track on our first trip to Tasmania in 2008, and I remember it being a great walk. The deeply textured cliffs are a highlight, made up largely of dolerite columns. I lacked a wide angled lens or panorama function at the time, which would have been handy to fit these cliffs into frame. But I think the drama of the landscape comes across well enough in my photos to inspire a trip out there. I’ll certainly go again on my next trip out that way. Continue reading “Cape Raoul Track, Tasman Peninsula, Tasmania”