Flat Top Hill Circuit, Alexandra NZ

A fairly unique circuit walk through the rocky and arid Central Otago landscape of Flat Top Hill, with excellent views of Roxburgh Gorge.

On Christmas Day 2022 we decided to chase the best of the weather and head out to Alexandra for the first time in years, doing a circuit walk in Flat Top Hill Conservation Area. It’s a unique rocky and arid landscape punctuated by the aqua colour of the dammed Clutha River in Roxburgh Gorge. You can do a roughly 13km circuit as we did, but a shorter version following just the Basin View Track is enough to see the best scenery in the area. Continue reading “Flat Top Hill Circuit, Alexandra 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”

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”

Rakaia Gorge Walkway, Canterbury NZ

An easygoing walk along the Rakaia River as it cuts its way through the Rakaia Gorge, with views of the Mt Hutt Range to the west.

The Rakaia Gorge Walkway is an easygoing walk along a scenic section of the Rakaia River, with views of the river from various spots, and out over the Mt Hutt Range. It is suitable for families and those without tramping experience, although it can get a bit muddy. On a clear day the Rakaia River is a pleasing turquoise colour, and there are patches of native bush with exotics along the way. Continue reading “Rakaia Gorge Walkway, Canterbury 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 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”

Hokitika Gorge Walk, Westland NZ

Spectacular blue water framed by white (ish) rocks and green vegetation on this short walk through Hokitika Gorge, and these colours despite overcast skies.

The short but spectacular Hokitika Gorge Walk had been recommended by friends, and so we took the 30-odd kilometre diversion from the main road (and the town of Hokitika) when on our first West Coast road trip. With overcast weather I did not expect the vibrant blues and greens I’d seen online, and had adjusted my expectations accordingly. But when we got there the colours were intense despite the sunless skies, so I think the gorge is worth a visit in any but the dreariest weather conditions. Continue reading “Hokitika Gorge Walk, Westland NZ”

Pororari River Track short walk, Paparoa National Park, Westland NZ

Very attractive river, gorge and forest scenery on this short and easy section of the Pororari River Track near Punakaiki, Westland. There are longer options available too.

The Pororari River Track is another of the side of the road short walks that we did by chance on NZ’s West Coast. Like the nearby Truman Track this turned out to be a great little walk, taking in some fabulous river, gorge and rainforest scenery for very little effort. Highly recommended.

Continue reading “Pororari River Track short walk, Paparoa National Park, Westland NZ”

Mt Taylor ascent, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ

Stark and rugged scenery on this epic day-hike to the summit of Mt Taylor (2333m), the highest peak in the Canterbury Foothills.

I’ll admit to being motivated by epic climbs to high peaks that I can knock off in a big day, and so Mt Taylor was always beckoning. At 2333m of elevation it is the highest mountain I’ve ever climbed, and at 31km and 1650m change in elevation, one of the longest walks I’ve done. The views from the summit over the stark landscape of the Canterbury High Country and Southern Alps are predictably a highlight, however I also very much enjoyed the walk up and down the Swin River South Branch through a very rugged gorge. And despite it being a cloudless Saturday I had the whole mountain to myself (and no Sophia with me that day). Continue reading “Mt Taylor ascent, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ”

Woolshed Creek Hut Circuit, Mt Somers area, Canterbury NZ

Excellent gorge scenery and grand mountain vistas await you on this moderate walk to Woolshed Creek Hut on the western side of Mt Somers.

With severe gale force winds forecast for the mountains on a sunny Saturday in late winter I thought it best we avoid exposed ground, and opted instead for this circuit walk to Woolshed Creek Hut near Mt Somers. Being at lower elevations I did not expect so much from the walk, but it very much exceeded expectations. We did the loop anti-clockwise and climbed up to 1100m on the Rhyolite Ridge and Bus Stop Tracks, with excellent views towards the distant but spectacular Arrowsmith Range, and also of the nearby Winterslow Range. Once near the hut there were narrow and rugged gorges with waterfalls and bluffs aplenty. Great stuff. Continue reading “Woolshed Creek Hut Circuit, Mt Somers area, Canterbury NZ”

Ferntree Gully Circuit, near Rylstone NSW

A great circuit walk through rainforest in Ferntree Gully near Rylstone, visiting a couple of good lookouts for views back down into the gully.

The circuit walk through Ferntree Gully Reserve passes through a scenic gully containing interesting rainforest vegetation. This includes various types of ferns as the name suggests, as well as vines and trailing roots reaching down over rocks to find the ground below. There are also good views from above the gully. It’s a short but rewarding walk that I recommend if you are in the region around Rylstone. Continue reading “Ferntree Gully Circuit, near Rylstone NSW”