Emily Hill & Lake Emily, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ

An easy walk along the Te Araroa Trail to Lake Emily, one of the Ashburton Lakes, then a short excursion off track to the summit of Emily Hill for good views.

A few kilometres easy walking along the Te Araroa Trail in Hakatere Conservation Park gives access to Lake Emily and neighbouring Emily Hill (963m). For views of the wide open spaces and lumpy topography of the Ashburton Lakes area, as well as the distant Arrowsmith Range, climb a couple of hundred vertical metres off track to the summit of the hill. Continue reading “Emily Hill & Lake Emily, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ”

Mid Hill via Lagoon Saddle, Craigieburn Forest Park, Canterbury NZ

Great views and nice variety on this walk to Mid Hill (1831m) in Craigieburn Forest Park, with forest, tussock, a rocky ridge & lots of tarns.

The climb to Mid Hill (1831m) via Lagoon Saddle is mostly easy travel with maybe 300m of moderate scrambling along a rocky ridge to get to the summit. Once out of the beech and pine at the start there are views for the rest of the walk and many attractive tarns between Lagoon Saddle and the final climb up onto the ridge. Arthur’s Pass is to the north, but some of the best views are the Black Range to the south-east, a patchwork of dark green forest and grey scree. Views west are over rugged and remote country. A very satisfying walk. 

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End Peak from Treble Cone Ski Field, Wānaka NZ

Get a leg up on this climb to End Peak (2100m) from Treble Cone Ski Field, with great views of Lake Wānaka & the Harris Mountains backcountry.

End Peak (2100m) offers grand views of Lake Wānaka to the east, and over the Harris Mountains backcountry to the west. If you had to climb it from the bottom it would be a real slog, but thankfully you can get a leg up starting at Treble Cone Ski Field (~1260m). Once the steep climb onto the ridge is finished, it’s then fairly easy ridge travel all the way to the summit, with great views the whole way. Lake Wānaka is always there, but views of a heart shaped tarn are an added bonus for reaching the summit.  Continue reading “End Peak from Treble Cone Ski Field, Wānaka NZ”

Mt Hanley from Moke Lake, Queenstown NZ

Lots of scrambling, exposure and tricky route finding on the way up Mt Hanley from Moke Lake, along Williamson Spur.

On a previous occasion we’d set off for Mt Hanley and made it only part way up Williamson Spur, turning back in less than ideal weather. There was already some scrambling and exposure going that far, but climbing all the way to the summit involved quite a bit more, and ended up being the scariest walk I’ve done to date! It didn’t help that my wife Sophia pulled out that morning and I went by myself. I probably shouldn’t have. This walk is best done with somebody else, and anybody who tries it will need to be comfortable with scrambling and exposure. The views are good, particularly when there are shadows highlighting the many ridges on the surrounding hillsides (which I didn’t really have in mid summer). Continue reading “Mt Hanley from Moke Lake, Queenstown NZ”

Lake Nerine Circuit, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ

An epic 3-4 day circuit in Mt Aspiring National Park, visiting Lake Nerine and sampling some of NZ’s best scenery along the way.

This three to four-day circuit walk visiting Lake Nerine was our best and hardest walk to date. The route passes through unspoilt wilderness on the western side of Mt Aspiring National Park bordering Fiordland. You bag two beautiful valleys – the Routeburn / Routeburn North Branch and the Rockburn;  three mountain passes – North Col, Parks Pass and Sugarloaf Pass; and walk under the towering Humboldt Mountains pretty much the whole way. And then there’s a multitude of tarns and lakes with Lake Nerine the jewel in the crown. Continue reading “Lake Nerine Circuit, Mt Aspiring National Park NZ”

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”

Nikau Palm Walk, Kōhaihai, West Coast NZ

The short Nikau Palm Walk starts on the Heaphy Track next to the Kōhaihai River, and passes through lush rainforest & groves of nikau palms.

If you want a very short walk at the West Coast end of the Heaphy Track then consider this short loop through native forest – the Nikau Palm Walk. The forest is very attractive, and as the name suggests, there are many nikau palms, New Zealand’s only native palm. You cross the Kōhaihai River at the start and views up and down this are also very nice.

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Heaphy Track to Big Rock Beach & Swan Burn, Kahurangi National Park, West Coast NZ

A very attractive coastal section of the multi-day Heaphy Track, taking in many highlights of West Coast scenery in just half a day.

I was keen to see some quintessential West Coast scenery when we visited the Coast’s northernmost town of Karamea for the first time. A four kilometre section of the multiday Heaphy Track offers just that: a selection of nikau palm lined beaches, lush rainforest and river scenery. The brochures suggest the hour long walk to Scotts Beach as a short day-walk, but continuing on to Big Rock Beach and Swanburn Bridge provides better scenery for not much more effort. I was especially impressed with the nikau palms besides Big Rock Beach, and dense bush lining the Swan Burn (River). Continue reading “Heaphy Track to Big Rock Beach & Swan Burn, Kahurangi National Park, West Coast NZ”

Lake Angelus Hut via Robert Ridge, Nelson Lakes National Park NZ

A real classic overnight tramp to Angelus Hut at Lake Angelus, in Nelson Lakes National Park, taking the rugged and scenic Robert Ridge Route.

In my days of only doing day-walks I had often looked enviously at pictures of Lake Angelus (at 1650m), in Nelson Lakes National Park, thinking it was too far for a day-trip. It turns out you can do it in a day, even in winter, (we saw a few trail runners doing just that). But for time to soak in the views there are few better overnighters than the Robert Ridge Route to Angelus Hut.

The route first climbs Mt Robert (1421m) on the Pinchgut Track, where there are good views of Lake Rotoiti and west over plains to Mt Owen. (If you wanted a short day walk you could then return via Paddy’s Track to make a circuit). From there it’s along the increasingly rugged Robert Ridge, peaking at 1788m, before dropping to the shores of Lake Angelus at 1650m. The views start good and just keep getting better: a real classic. Continue reading “Lake Angelus Hut via Robert Ridge, Nelson Lakes National Park 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”