Ben Lomond Track, Queenstown NZ

Climbing Ben Lomond (1748m) is a must do for any reasonably fit hiker visiting Queenstown. The route we take to the top starts on the edge of town, and at first passes through beech forest, then pine forest, and once above the treeline it’s tussock grass until the summit, where there are 360 degree views of the Southern Alps, the Remarkables and Lake Wakatipu.

Standing on the summit of Ben Lomond on a clear enough day, you can blindly point your camera in any direction and come away with an epic landscape shot. There are 360 degree views of the Southern Alps, Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables, and depending on the weather conditions these views might look very different, as the photos that follow will demonstrate. Continue reading “Ben Lomond Track, Queenstown NZ”

Mt Rosa Track, Central Otago NZ

The route to the summit of Mt Rosa (1324m) starts in thorny weeds, but soon moves into tussock grass and before long there are views over the Gibbston Valley wine region, the Horn and Carrick Ranges, and eventually over to the Remarkables Conservation Area. Good for cooler weather because there’s no shade for the whole length of the walk.

The walk up Mt Rosa (1324m) from Victoria Flats was another lesser known walk to exceed expectations. It is so unknown that we didn’t come across a single other walker on two occasions. The wide track at first passes through thorny bushes, but before long these are left behind as it enters quintessential Central Otago high country; basically tussock grass. Eventually there are views of the Gibbston Valley wine region, and surrounding mountain ranges such as the Horn Range, Carrick Range, and the Remarkables Conservation Area. Continue reading “Mt Rosa Track, Central Otago NZ”

Sugarloaf Pass to Point 1290m, Mt Aspiring NP, NZ

Really spectacular views of mountains and valleys on this lesser known walk in Mt Aspiring National Park, including a nice side angle of Mt Earnslaw at 2830m of elevation.

We did this walk for the first time on about our seventh trip to New Zealand, and I can’t understand how it had remained under our radar for so long. After a moderate amount of time in very atmospheric beech forest, the walk emerges above the tree line to a saddle for the first views of mountains and valleys in Mt Aspiring National Park. But the views get really spectacular when you take a right turn off-track up to point 1290m. There are views of rugged mountains in various directions, including a great angle on Mt Earnslaw, which peaks at 2890m of elevation. (Mind you, the impressive Earnslaw Glacier is on the other side of the mountain; you can visit this in a really gruelling day walk that we did a year or so earlier).

There’s about 800m change in elevation on this walk. We also did this walk in winter 2019, when the scenery was even more spectacular, and also my photography was a bit better: click here to see those photos. Continue reading “Sugarloaf Pass to Point 1290m, Mt Aspiring NP, NZ”

Lindis Peak Track, Central Otago NZ

Climbing Lindis Peak (1226m) in Central Otago is a lesser known up and down walk with 360 degree views of the area, including the distinctive St Bathans Range, and distant snowy peaks of the Main Divide.

Sophia and I had driven through the Lindis Valley on our way to Mt Cook at Christmas time in 2015. After doing most of the regular day walks around Queenstown, I decided to drive out this way again in winter 2016 for the walk up Lindis Peak, and it did not disappoint. There are 360 degree views of the surrounding Central Otago countryside, (and over the border into Canterbury), including the impressive St Bathans Range, and distant snowy peaks of the Southern Alps. Continue reading “Lindis Peak Track, Central Otago NZ”

Queens Drive (part) & Lake Alta, The Remarkables, Queenstown NZ

Three walks high up in the Remarkables Range near Queenstown: tracks to Lake Alta and Shadow Basin Lookout, and for something a little more hair raising, the Queens Drive track. Alpine scenes and spectacular views abound.

Three walks in one here: a straightforward walk up to beautiful Lake Alta from the Remarkables ski fields car park, a shortish climb to wide open views at Shadow Basin Lookout, and the somewhat hair raising Queens Drive track, that runs along a poor excuse for a ledge high up (about 2000m) on the west face of the Remarkables. Seriously spectacular views on the Queens Drive track, but if you don’t have a head for heights then you can just check out the views from Shadow Basin Lookout, which is on the way.

Continue reading “Queens Drive (part) & Lake Alta, The Remarkables, Queenstown NZ”

Sawyer Burn Hut Track, Hawea Conservation Park, Otago NZ

Great views of lake Hawea and surrounding peaks on this walk starting at Kidds Bush campground, not too far from Wanaka.

Although a very nice walk, this hike to Sawyer Burn Hut was most memorable for the chance encounter with a completely nude hiker. (Well, he was wearing hiking boots). Alas, it was a somewhat portly middle aged man, but he did make quite an impression. Presuming you won’t meet any such person, you can instead expect to remember nice beech forest, great views of lake Hawea, and views of high peaks towards the end of the track. Continue reading “Sawyer Burn Hut Track, Hawea Conservation Park, Otago NZ”

Mt Dewar/Devils Creek Track, Central Otago NZ

A walk in the tussock grassed country behind Queenstown, with views over the Southern Alps and back to the Remarkables.

A nice enough walk in the hills/mountains behind Queenstown, not far from the Coronet Peaks ski field, although the overcast conditions let the scenery down a bit for the photos that follow. You ascend maybe 350m to the summit of Mt Dewar (1310m), then descend to Devils Creek, and return via a saddle and then the road. About 700m of ascent/descent. The country appears to be at the transition between the pointy Southern Alps, and domed mountains of the Central Otago interior. Mostly tussock grass with some rocky areas, and you can visit the upper Shotover River, although we didn’t have the time or legs for this on the day we did it. Continue reading “Mt Dewar/Devils Creek Track, Central Otago NZ”

Hawkdun Range ascent (point 1857m), Maniototo, Central Otago NZ

An excellent walk through tussock grass to the barren summit plateau of the Hawkdun Range (point 1857m), in the remote Maniototo region of Central Otago.

An excellent walk to the top of the Hawkdun Range (1857m) in the remote Maniototo region of Central Otago, famous for its isolated vistas of golden tussock grass and mountains. The walk starts in the Manuherikia Valley, and after a flat start rises steeply up to the long and barren summit plateau of the Hawkdun Range: about 1100m of ascent and descent. Not as dramatic as the Southern Alps, but very atmospheric, and we had the place to ourselves.  Continue reading “Hawkdun Range ascent (point 1857m), Maniototo, Central Otago NZ”

Caples Track to Mid Caples Hut, Otago NZ

Roughly 5 hours of level walking through the beautiful Caples Valley takes you to Mid Caples Hut and back on this first (or last) section of the multi-day Greenstone and Caples Track circuit.

This section of the multi-day Greenstone and Caples Track circuit makes for an excellent day walk, and one for those who are less keen on climbing. The level track wanders from near the western shore of Lake Wakatipu through the beautiful Caples Valley. There are high mountains in every direction, beech forest, grassy flats, groves of manuka, mountain streams and the Caples River to enjoy along the way. Mid Caples Hut makes for a good lunch spot and turnaround point. Continue reading “Caples Track to Mid Caples Hut, Otago NZ”

Rocky Mountain-Diamond Lake Circuit, near Wanaka, NZ

An easy to moderate walk passing by the picturesque Diamond Lake, and climbing up to the summit of Rocky Mountain (775m) for views of Lake Wanaka.

This walk near Wanaka offers good views for only mild to moderate effort. It’s an easygoing alternative to the famous but much longer Roys Peak Track that starts down the road a bit closer to town. You can do a figure of eight taking in the picturesque Diamond Lake, and then climb higher to the summit of Rocky Mountain (775m) for views over Lake Wanaka and towards snow capped mountains to the north. My wife did this walk in winter with her sister and said the views were even better. Continue reading “Rocky Mountain-Diamond Lake Circuit, near Wanaka, NZ”