Ryton Track to Lakes Ida & Catherine, Canterbury NZ

A fairly easygoing walk on the Ryton Track though impressive Canterbury High Country mountain scenery, visiting Lakes Ida & Catherine.

The Ryton Track takes you through impressive mountain scenery to Lake Ida, and then Lake Catherine.  Both are nice enough – Lake Ida is in the nicer setting – but neither particularly photogenic. There are also Lakes Selfe and Evelyn at the start which are nice. For me though the highlight was the lumpy topography including scree covered mountains in the Craigieburn Range. It’s a fairly flat walk and not too long, so for relatively little effort you can get a good sample of the Canterbury High Country. Continue reading “Ryton Track to Lakes Ida & Catherine, Canterbury NZ”

Crown Peak from Crown Range Road, Otago NZ

The shorter of two marked routes to the summit of Crown Peak (1735m), starting on the Crown Range Road between Wanaka and Queenstown. 360 degree views of the area from the summit.

This was our second time up Crown Peak (1735m), one of the mountains accessible from Arrowtown. However, this time we climbed it on a marked route starting on the Crown Range Road, on the Cardrona side of the mountain. This route is shorter, and offers a wilder walking experience than climbing the mountain on a vehicle track. Nevertheless, there was more variety of scenery on the walk up from Arrowtown. The 360 degree views from the summit are the same of course, and very nice. Continue reading “Crown Peak from Crown Range Road, Otago NZ”

Miners Track Circuit, Arrowtown, Otago NZ

A circuit taking in the Miners Track is one of many possible routes on the network of tracks in regenerating scrub & tussock behind Arrowtown.

On a rainy day in November we wanted to do a walk but not invest too much only to get no views. We chose to do a circuit behind Arrowtown taking in the Miners Track, a section we hadn’t walked before. We couldn’t see much for most of the walk, so I haven’t included many pictures, but you can see more of what the area looks like in my posts on Crown Peak and New Chums Gully. Continue reading “Miners Track Circuit, Arrowtown, Otago NZ”

Mt Princess ascent, St James Conservation Area, Canterbury NZ

A challenging route up Mt Princess (2126m) in the St James Range, with excellent views of Princess Bath & over countless peaks & valleys.

Mt Princess (2126m) is a significant peak that I first learned of when visiting nearby Mt Tennyson on a drive into the St James Conservation Area and Molesworth Reserve. It’s a long and potentially tricky route up no matter which way you go, but the views are really excellent, and the gnarly terrain only adds to the satisfaction.

We were lucky to have a good amount of snow remain in late October when we climbed the mountain, adding to the scenic views. (Except perhaps of Princess Bath (a cirque lake), which was still frozen over and so didn’t make so much of an impression.)

Continue reading “Mt Princess ascent, St James Conservation Area, Canterbury NZ”

Rat Hill via Redcliffe Stream, Canterbury NZ

An attractive and varied walk through native shrublands besides Redcliffe Stream & up to the summit of Rat Hill (1450m) for views of rugged high peaks.

This was a very pleasant walk with good variety, and felt quite remote for a day walk. You start walking up rocky Redcliffe Stream surrounded by native scrublands on steep-sided hills. In early October the Kowhai trees were in bloom adding to this already attractive scenery. As you climb up the stream you eventually reach tussock flats, then commence the steep climb up Rat Hill (1450m) with great views over ruggedly attractive 2000m peaks in the Black Hill and Mt Hutt Ranges. Another walk to exceed expectations. Continue reading “Rat Hill via Redcliffe Stream, Canterbury NZ”

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”

Best Day-Hikes in Arthur’s Pass National Park

Quintessential New Zealand scenery on these classic day-walks in Arthur’s Pass National Park, all accessible from Christchurch on a day-trip.

I haven’t done a single bad walk in Arthur’s Pass National Park, so when it comes to a best-of list it’s basically just a list of walks I’ve done. There’s quintessential New Zealand scenery on all of these tramps: a mix of high and often snow capped peaks, deep braided river valleys, rugged cliffs, and lush native forest. It’s pristine wilderness that is very accessible from Christchurch – a picturesque drive of roughly 1.5-2 hours.

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Best Day-Tramps in the Canterbury Foothills

Some of New Zealand’s finest and most underrated day-tramps are to be found in the Canterbury Foothills, easily accessible from Christchurch.

Flanked by the Southern Alps to the west, and flat as a pancake Canterbury Plains to the east, the Canterbury Foothills are a smorgasbord of mountains, plains, braided rivers and glacial lakes. Many of the peaks are starkly beautiful patchworks of tussock grass and scree, some with stands of native forest on their lower slopes.

There are many well maintained tracks in the area, but much of the country is pretty open, so experienced trampers can extend their options considerably. You can get to pretty much anywhere in the Canterbury Foothills from Christchurch in a day-trip: driving times are between 50 minutes and a little over 2 hours for the furthest walks.

Continue reading “Best Day-Tramps in the Canterbury Foothills”