Mt Oakden ascent, Canterbury NZ

Really spectacular views the whole way up Mt Oakden (1633m), including braided river valleys, Lake Coleridge & mountains galore. A real classic.

I got quite excited when first reading about this somewhat challenging tramp up Mt Oakden (1633m), and it did not disappoint. The mountain’s position at the foot of the braided Wilberforce River provides epic views straight up this valley, and these were a real highlight for me. Added to this are excellent views up the Harper Valley, of the Rakaia River, Lake Coleridge, and countless peaks in the Southern Alps. Do it on a clear day for maximum effect. Continue reading “Mt Oakden ascent, Canterbury NZ”

Nina Valley to Nina Hut, Lake Sumner Forest Park, Canterbury NZ

A pleasant walk up the Nina Valley as far as Nina Hut, passing through attractive beech forest & over a picturesque gorge on the Nina River.

This pleasant walk in the Nina Valley as far as Nina Hut was a plan B on our first trip to the Lewis Pass area, as low cloud made put us off our planned mountain ascent. Almost 6 hours in beech forest was a bit much for me, but it was very pleasant forest, and a couple of sections of the Nina River were picturesque too. My photos proved reasonably popular amongst friends and family on Facebook, so I guess that is a vote of confidence in the scenery on offer, but of course look below and judge for yourself. Continue reading “Nina Valley to Nina Hut, Lake Sumner Forest Park, Canterbury NZ”

Steepface Hill ascent, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ

Really excellent views over the braided Rakaia River and countless mountains on this big ascent up Steepface Hill (1876m) in Hakatere Conservation Park.

Since moving to Canterbury (NZ) in Autumn 2020 I’d had my eyes on Mt Hutt (2185m), the high point of a prominent mountain range bordering the Rakaia River. This would be a big walk with limited winter daylight hours, so a good plan B was to first climb a peak at the northern end of this range, Steepface Hill (1876m): a 1500m vertical climb over just four kilometres, and the only ridge on the route up is mostly flat. It’s all in the name! It’s not all about the steepness though, because the views of the Rakaia River and countless surrounding peaks were just fabulous. Also very cool was Terrible Gully at the start, a rather jagged waterway cut out of the hillside. Continue reading “Steepface Hill ascent, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ”

Mt Harper Circuit, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ

This circuit walk up Mt Harper (1829m) offers wide open views of the Ashburton Lakes District & the Rangitata River, with the Southern Alps providing the backdrop.

With a forecast of cloudy weather to the north and west of Canterbury this walk up Mt Harper (1829m) in the Ashburton Lakes District was a plan B. It turned out to be one of the best walks we’ve done, with fabulous views in all directions. There’s variety in the views as well, with rugged snowy peaks, lumpier mountains, wide plains punctuated with shallow lakes, and the Rangitata River Valley. The overall impression is of remoteness, which I always like on a walk. Continue reading “Mt Harper Circuit, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ”

Peak Hill Track, Canterbury NZ

A popular walk up Peak Hill (1240m) to excellent 360 degree views over Lake Coleridge, various mountain ranges, and braided river valleys.

I’d read good things about the shortish walk up Peak Hill, and it’s fairly obvious on a map that the views will be good. One blogger claimed that it is the best of Canterbury’s foothills. The walk itself is just okay, with a steep, and on the day we did it, fairly muddy climb up to a ridge, which then leads to the summit. The views gradually improve as you go, and I recommend continuing past the summit to a rocky knoll at 1096m, to get a little more intimate with those peaks across the lake. From the summit of Peak Hill there are 360 degree views of all kinds of topography and landforms. I think I’ve seen better, but my pictures of these views proved popular with family and friends (on Facebook), so I guess the majority has spoken. Continue reading “Peak Hill Track, Canterbury NZ”

Big Ben via Dry Acheron Stream, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park, Canterbury NZ

Good variety on this walk along the Dry Acheron Stream, then up steeply to the summit of Big Ben (1416m), with views of various hills & tall peaks, both near & far.

We first walked the Dry Acheron Track intending to climb Big Ben (1416m), but on that day there was low cloud and we turned back. A few weeks later after snowfall we thought we’d return and finish the job. Snow and clear blue skies added some variety to the grey skies of our first visit, and intense NW winds some adventure when on the upper reaches of the mountain. There’s great views from the slopes of Big Ben, including a jumble of topography towards Lake Coleridge, and a rather striking Mount Hutt Range popping out of the Canterbury Plains. Continue reading “Big Ben via Dry Acheron Stream, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park, Canterbury NZ”

Dry Acheron Track, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park, Canterbury NZ

A pleasant walk up the Dry Acheron Stream through what I’ve seen described as ‘handsome scrublands’, passing through a few small gullies along the way, and with views of surrounding mountains.

We’d originally intended to walk this track for access to Big Ben Mountain*, but low cloud put us off climbing this. So we settled for finishing the Dry Acheron Track, which follows the Dry Acheron Stream from where it passes through a series of small gullies and other valley landforms, to where it emerges from a rugged valley in the Big Ben Range. I’d heard the area around the stream described as ‘handsome scrublands’, and I think this is an apt description. Continue reading “Dry Acheron Track, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park, Canterbury NZ”

Trig M via Coach Stream Track, Korowai-Torlesse Tussocklands Park, Canterbury NZ

Excellent views of mountain ranges and Lake Lyndon for just moderate effort on this walk to Trig M (1,251m) in Korowai-Torlesse Tussocklands Park.

Korowai-Torlesse Tussocklands Park is a conservation area about one hour’s drive from Christchurch. There’s fairly easy access to some of the peaks in the park from Porters Pass, which rises to 939m of elevation. One of the easiest peaks to reach is the oddly named Trig M (1,251m), and the views from the summit are excellent, taking in various mountain ranges and adjacent Lake Lyndon .

The shortest route to the top is from Starvation Gully, and might take a couple of hours return. If that’s a bit short then try the Coach Stream Track, which will take closer to 3 hours return. There’s a bit more variety on this route, and good views towards the Canterbury Plains earlier on in the walk. A great views to effort ratio whichever route you choose, and not far from Christchurch if you are based there.

Track notes at the end.

Trig M via Coach Stream Track: The Scenery

Trig M via Coach Stream Track, Korowai-Torlesse Tussocklands Park
At the start.
Trig M via Coach Stream Track, Korowai-Torlesse Tussocklands Park
Looking back as we climbed higher.
Trig M via Coach Stream Track, Korowai-Torlesse Tussocklands Park
Looking over towards the Canterbury Plains.
Trig M via Coach Stream Track, Korowai-Torlesse Tussocklands Park
The Macfarlane Stream valley.
Trig M via Coach Stream Track, Korowai-Torlesse Tussocklands Park
The track skirted the edge of a couple of beech forests.
Trig M via Coach Stream Track, Korowai-Torlesse Tussocklands Park
I very much liked the pattern of these heath plants.

I think we joined the Starvation Gully Track around here.

Trig M via Coach Stream Track, Korowai-Torlesse Tussocklands Park
Sophia backed by Mt Lyndon, Cloudy Hill, and the Craigieburn Range.
Trig M via Coach Stream Track, Korowai-Torlesse Tussocklands Park
Looking out towards Cloudy Hill and behind, the Craigieburn Range.
Trig M via Coach Stream Track, Korowai-Torlesse Tussocklands Park
Trig M is the hill to the left.
Trig M via Coach Stream Track, Korowai-Torlesse Tussocklands Park
Ascending to Trig M.
Trig M via Coach Stream Track, Korowai-Torlesse Tussocklands Park
Lake Lyndon down there.
Trig M via Coach Stream Track, Korowai-Torlesse Tussocklands Park
Looking south-west towards the Mt Hutt Range and other tall mountain ranges.

Trig M via Coach Stream Track, Korowai-Torlesse Tussocklands Park

Trig M via Coach Stream Track, Korowai-Torlesse Tussocklands Park
Lake Lyndon panorama.
Trig M via Coach Stream Track, Korowai-Torlesse Tussocklands Park
Lake Lyndon
Trig M via Coach Stream Track, Korowai-Torlesse Tussocklands Park
Another shot of Lake Lyndon. Mt Lyndon directly behind, and Red Hill to the left.
Trig M via Coach Stream Track, Korowai-Torlesse Tussocklands Park
Looking towards the Canterbury Plains. The Port Hills in the far distance.
Trig M via Coach Stream Track, Korowai-Torlesse Tussocklands Park
Ben More Range
Trig M via Coach Stream Track, Korowai-Torlesse Tussocklands Park
Lake Lyndon again. I liked the contrast of green and grey on the slope in the foreground.
Trig M via Coach Stream Track, Korowai-Torlesse Tussocklands Park
Foggy Peak
Trig M via Coach Stream Track, Korowai-Torlesse Tussocklands Park
The route we took on the way back was along that ridge in the middle.

Trig M via Coach Stream Track, Korowai-Torlesse Tussocklands Park

Trig M via Coach Stream Track, Korowai-Torlesse Tussocklands Park
Foggy Peak looming at the back.
Trig M via Coach Stream Track, Korowai-Torlesse Tussocklands Park
Peaks in the Craigieburn Range.
Trig M via Coach Stream Track, Korowai-Torlesse Tussocklands Park
We followed this fence line part of the way back.
Trig M via Coach Stream Track, Korowai-Torlesse Tussocklands Park
Descending here. It gets steep and scrubby further down, but the last bit is on a vehicle track.


Track Notes

Trig M via Coach Stream Track, Korowai-Torlesse Tussocklands Park Route Map
The Coach Stream Track is straightforward. The alternative return via a partial loop is not so straightforward and you might give it a miss.  I’ve marked the easement on this map – it’s between the two fences. You can also take the Starvation Gully Track to Trig M.

The Coach Stream Track is pretty straightforward, and there’s more information in the DOC brochure for walks in the Korowai-Torlesse Tussocklands Park . The easement through farmland was pretty pooey (cow pats) when we did it, but that’s not a long section. (Note that this section is closed in spring for lambing). The rest is nice. An alternative and shorter track starts from Starvation Gully (and is open year round). The two tracks join towards the top. I think you see more interesting scenery from the Coach Stream Track.

Alternate Route Back

We took an alternate route on the way down that I read about in Wilderness Magazine. You make a partial loop, but the going got quite rough in one section and I’m not sure it adds much to the walk (although you avoid the cow dung this way).

You walk on a faint but obvious track from part way down the Starvation Gully Track. The track runs along a ridge and then down a fence line, crossing over the fence three times to stay on a track of sorts. As you descend more it gets very steep and scrubby. If you persist then you will come to another fence to the left and perpendicular to fence you are following. Cross over this and head over to the start of the obvious (but probably disused) vehicle track which runs up to the highway. (I think this may have be a section of the old coach road). From there it’s an easy descent back down to the outward track.

Best Summit Day-Hikes in South-East Australia

Australia may be the flattest continent on Earth, but it still has some great mountains. Here are my favourites from the south-eastern corner that you can climb in a day.

There’s nothing more satisfying to me than climbing a mountain from the bottom in a day. It’s my favourite form of hiking, combining the best views with a sense of achievement. It seems I’m built for short but steep hikes. The steeper they are the more of an adrenaline fuelled high I get, and rugged mountainous landscapes add to this natural high. And by completing the walk in a day I can then return to the comforts of civilisation, such as indoor plumbing.

Continue reading “Best Summit Day-Hikes in South-East Australia”

Grandview Mountain Track, Lake Hawea, Otago

One thousand metres of ascent and descent along a vehicle track to the summit of Grandview Mountain provides good views of nearby rugged country, and then extensive views over Lake Hawea and distant high peaks.

On entering New Zealand in March 2020 we were soon hit with increasingly severe restrictions due to the Covid 19 epidemic. Before the complete lock-down we snuck in a final hike to the summit of Grandview Mountain at the southern end of Lake Hawea, a new walk for us. The views from the top were indeed grand, although I most liked the views of rugged country we passed by along the way in the Grandview Creek Conservation Area. Continue reading “Grandview Mountain Track, Lake Hawea, Otago”