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.

Mt Guy Circuit, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ

Expansive views of the Ashburton Lakes and Southern Alps from the top of Mt Guy (1319m), then a pleasant walk back below the mountain.

On our first time up Mt Guy the summit was clouded in, so we returned on a clear day in early spring to give it another go. There are wide open views of the Ashburton Lakes, flat plains, distant Southern Alps, and various other lumpy/ rolling mountains and hills. It’s a fairly short if rather steep climb up to the summit, and you could return from there for a short day out. But to extend your fun I can recommend a circuit going off-track north-west from the summit and returning by the Te Araroa and Eastern Link tracks. Continue reading “Mt Guy Circuit, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ”

Best Day-Tramps around Hanmer Springs, Lewis Pass & Reefton

Spectacular and varied tramping on this selection of day-hikes around Hanmer Springs, Lewis Pass & Reefton.

There are mountains galore to the north and west of the resort town of Hanmer Springs, with two quite contrasting landscapes on offer. Directly to the north of town are dry and sometimes barren landscapes characterised by colourful heath plants, tussock and scree. There are a few tracks to choose from, but many more choose-your-own adventures, as the country is pretty open. Further west towards Lewis Pass and on to Reefton is a wetter landscape of forested valleys and grassy, sometimes rugged peaks. The tarns are often a highlight of these walks.

Continue reading “Best Day-Tramps around Hanmer Springs, Lewis Pass & Reefton”

Trig M from Starvation Gully, Korowai Torlesse Tussocklands Park, Canterbury NZ

Snowy scenes & views of Lake Lyndon and many other peaks on this shorter walk up to Trig M (1251m) from Starvation Gully.

A repeat trip to Trig M, this time the shorter route from Starvation Gully, mainly to see the area after fairly heavy snowfall. It’s a fairly steady 1.5-2 hour climb to the top, with most of the ascent achieved early on. The views are very good, particularly of Lake Lyndon and towards the Craigieburn Range. Trig M can also be climbed from the other side of Porters Pass on the Coach Stream Track – that is a bit longer but more interesting (except for the section through farmland).  Continue reading “Trig M from Starvation Gully, Korowai Torlesse Tussocklands Park, 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 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 Loop Track, Queenstown NZ

The Moke Lake Loop Track is an easygoing walk around this picturesque lake near Queenstown, surrounded by mountains.

Moke Lake is situated in a scenic area surrounded by mountains, and is just a short drive from downtown Queenstown. The walk around the lake on the Moke Lake Loop Track is easygoing and suitable for families. On a winter’s afternoon I found the lighting quite attractive and enjoyed the walk despite usually opting for more challenging terrain. Continue reading “Moke Lake Loop Track, Queenstown 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”

Travis Wetland Circuit, Christchurch NZ

A very pleasant short walk in the north-east of Christchurch around the reconstructed Travis Wetland, with native plants & lots of birdlife.

My wife Sophia has worked opposite Travis Wetland in the Christchurch suburb of Burwood for a few months, but this was our first time to visit it. I didn’t expect all that much, but it is in fact a very pleasant stroll. The majority of the area is grassy wetland, but various iconic native plants are planted along the track, many of them labelled. And there are pleasant lakes, lots of birdlife, and a viewing tower so you can get a proper look at the area. Continue reading “Travis Wetland Circuit, Christchurch NZ”

Mt Guy & Lake Clearwater Circuit Track, Canterbury NZ

A walk up Mt Guy (1319m) for excellent views of the Ashburton Lakes, and a return route via the Lake Clearwater Circuit Track.

As a shortish tracked route to the top of a mountain with views I had been thinking about climbing Mt Guy (1319m) ever since we moved to Christchurch. Somehow though it took us a year to get up there. The views from the mountain are very good, although the summit was clouded in so we missed all but the views south over the Ashburton Lakes. It was a pretty short trip up, so we’ll be back on a clear winter’s day to get those missing views. To compensate for a short walk and limited views we decided to finish the walk the long way, completing the Lake Clearwater Circuit Track. The weather actually cleared as we descended from Mt Guy so we got views from ground level of the Southern Alps and other peaks. Continue reading “Mt Guy & Lake Clearwater Circuit Track, Canterbury NZ”

Mt Iron Circuit, Wanaka, Otago NZ

A shortish circuit walk up the glacial landform of Mt Iron (548m), with views in all directions including Lake Wanaka and the Southern Alps.

Climbing Mt Iron is a popular circuit walk on the edge of Wanaka. Although there are steep sections it is a reasonably short and straightforward walk through a mix of private and conservation land. There are views in all directions, over Lake Wanaka, farmland, the towns of Wanaka and Albert Town, and various mountains including the Southern Alps. Continue reading “Mt Iron Circuit, Wanaka, Otago NZ”