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.

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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”

Patutu Route, Canterbury NZ

Excellent coastal views plus views inland over the Seaward Kaikoura Range from the top of Patutu (1162m).

Patutu (1162m) lies in the far north of Canterbury, about 25 minutes drive north of Kaikoura. Like the nearby and more famous walk up Mt Fyffe, much of the ascent to the summit of Patutu is along an old vehicle track. And much of this through a variety of regenerating native bush. Most of the views start from roughly two-thirds of the way up. Views from the summit are very good, taking in some of the highest mountains north of the Southern Alps, and a long stretch of coastline, as far as the North Island. The mountains include a somewhat distant Tapuae-O-Uenuku (2885m), and the nearby Seaward Kaikoura Range. Continue reading “Patutu Route, Canterbury 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”

Black Mountain, Te Kahui Kaupeka Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ

Spectacular views of barren 2500m high peaks, glacial valleys & the Rangitata River, from the summit of Black Mountain (1809m).

I had wanted to visit this remote corner of Canterbury for some time, but I was put off for a while by the long distances required to get to what I thought to be the most interesting peaks. Nevertheless, after studying the topo map in more detail I saw that the views should be good from Black Mountain (1809m), and it certainly delivered. You get really spectacular views of barren 2500m peaks and glacial valleys to the west, and of the Rangitata River to the east, including the confluence with the Havelock and Clyde Rivers. Continue reading “Black Mountain, Te Kahui Kaupeka Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ”

Corner Peak Route, Lake Hawea NZ

A long and spectacular walk up rugged Corner Peak (1683m) with views of Lake Hawea, the Hunter River, and over numerous mountain ranges.

Corner Peak (1683m) cuts a striking figure from the western shore of Lake Hawea, especially as you drive from the West Coast across The Neck, alongside Isthmus Peak. Multiple spurs rise 1300m very steeply out of the lake, but the way up is along a long ridge from the south. It feels quite adventurous, and is a hard slog, but the scenery is spectacular pretty much from start to end, so it’s well worth the effort. One of the best walks in this area, along with Sentinel Peak and Breast Hill.

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Mt Crichton from Avalanche Creek, Queenstown NZ

A steep and direct route to the summit of Mt Crichton (1870m) near Queenstown, with fabulous views including Lake Isobel and Lake Wakatipu.

This is a shorter version of one of my favourite walks, to the summit of Mt Crichton (1870m), near Queenstown. Although less picturesque than the longer route (from the Mt Crichton Loop Track), this way is quite direct and offers some variety if you’ve already done that other route. The views from the summit and also the peak at 1845m are spectacular, and include Lake Isobel and Lake Wakatipu. Continue reading “Mt Crichton from Avalanche Creek, Queenstown NZ”