Goat Hill via Barrack Creek Route, Arthur’s Pass NZ

Magnificent views on an adventurous route up through lush West Coast forest & along a rocky alpine ridge to Goat Hill (1656m) in Arthur’s Pass National Park near Otira.

This somewhat adventurous climb up the Barrack Creek Route to Goat Hill (1656m) was our first walk on the West Coast side of Arthur’s Pass National Park. The views are really spectacular, and include Mt Rolleston and numerous other peaks, the Otira River, Deception Valley, and the attractive Barrack Creek Valley. Also, the vegetation is different enough to add interest for someone used to the plants back east. The route is quite rough in sections, both through the forest and up towards the summit, and requires some scrambling. If you are okay with this then it will only add to the adventure. All in all a very satisfying day tramp that we’ll be sure to repeat. And you’ll probably have the place to yourself.  Continue reading “Goat Hill via Barrack Creek Route, Arthur’s Pass NZ”

Faust & Mephistopheles, Lewis Pass, Canterbury NZ

Fabulous views & some of the most beautiful tarns we’ve ever seen on this walk up Faust (1710m) & Mephistopheles (1736m) in the Lewis Pass region.

I had read good things about the climb up Faust (1710m) in the Lewis Pass region. Nevertheless, the pictures I’d seen online didn’t get me too excited. It was with moderate expectations then that we set off on a calm, cloudless day in autumn, intending to also visit the nearby peak of Mephistopheles (1736m). We were destined to have our expectations exceeded yet again. There are excellent views of countless peaks and glacial valleys, particularly from Mephistopheles, and the Faust Tarns were probably the most beautiful we’ve ever seen. Plus you’ll possibly have the place to yourself, as we did despite perfect Saturday weather. Continue reading “Faust & Mephistopheles, Lewis Pass, Canterbury NZ”

Sebastopol via Red Tarns, Aoraki Mt Cook National Park NZ

Climbing Sebastopol (1468m) via the Red Tarns provides grandstand views of many famous features in Aoraki Mt Cook National Park. And a scramble near the top adds a little to the adventure.

It’s just a half day climb from Mt Cook Village to the summit of Sebastopol (1468m) in Aoraki Mt Cook National Park, but the views are quite spectacular. The route first climbs on a constructed track to Red Tarns, which is already a good destination for those without the experience or desire to climb higher. (I’ve separated my photos to Red Tarns from the others below). From there the route follows an unmarked impact track past McNulty Tarns, and up steeply to pass through bluffs near the summit. There’s some scrambling required, but will be fine for those with suitable experience. For this extra effort you get 360 degree views encompassing high peaks, river flats and glacial lakes. And of course peak bagging gratification. Continue reading “Sebastopol via Red Tarns, Aoraki Mt Cook National Park NZ”

Red Rock via Shotover Saddle, West Matukituki Valley, Wanaka area NZ

A lesser known day trip to Red Rock (1858m) in the West Matukituki Valley, with excellent views into Mt Aspiring National Park.

For some time I have contemplated doing the highly rated Cascade Saddle walk as a day trip from Raspberry Flats, but the length (~32km?) and reputed danger of descending the route has put me off a bit. I may still get to this classic walk, but in the summer of 2020 I settled instead for this lesser known but excellent day-walk through the West Matukituki Valley up to Shotover Saddle, and then on to Red Rock (1858m). You get spectacular views up and down the valley, of multiple peaks in Mt Aspiring National Park including Rob Roy and its glacier, and nearby Mt Tyndall. A great way to sample the spectacular Mt Aspiring Scenery on a day walk and without undue risk. Continue reading “Red Rock via Shotover Saddle, West Matukituki Valley, Wanaka area NZ”

Lake Hope Viewpoint Route, Hector Mountains, Queenstown area NZ

An adventurous route to 2000m in the Hector Mountains, with views of Lake Hope and rugged mountain scenery. Requires off-track navigation and bush-bashing.

This was not a planned walk. We had intended to visit the alpine Lake Hope, but couldn’t find the route up Wye Creek South Branch. Instead we found a route up through scrub and tussock to a high ridge with excellent views of the lake. Not to mention great views of Lake Wakatipu, the back of the Remarkables, into Wye Creek Valley, and over the high peaks of the rugged Hector Range. And if you had more time than us you could drop down to Lake Hope anyway. Only downside is a challenging bush bash on the steepest terrain of the walk, so this is not one for beginners. Continue reading “Lake Hope Viewpoint Route, Hector Mountains, Queenstown area NZ”

Mt McIntosh Loop Track, Whakaari Conservation Area, Glenorchy NZ

Great views at the north end of Lake Wakatipu on the Mt McIntosh Loop Track to the summit of Mt McIntosh (1701m).

After enjoying the excellent hike to Mt Alaska in the Whakaari Conservation Area near Glenorchy, I had looked forward to returning and doing the Mt McIntosh Loop Track. Although this can be done as a loop by crossing over the Buckler Burn, we did it as an out and back tramp to the summit of Mt McIntosh entirely on the northern side of the burn. Like the walk to Mt Alaska the views of surrounding peaks and valleys are excellent. A highlight for me were views of rugged Temple Peak (2089m), and views over the northern end of Lake Wakatipu. Continue reading “Mt McIntosh Loop Track, Whakaari Conservation Area, Glenorchy NZ”

Sentinel Peak ascent, Lake Hawea, Otago NZ

Sitting almost 1500m above Lakes Hawea & Wanaka, Sentinel Peak (1814m) is a big day out with 360 degree views of the lakes & surrounding peaks.

Some years ago we did a shortish walk to Sawyer Burn Hut, starting at the Kidds Bush Reserve campsite. I had read at that time it was possible to keep going upwards to climb Sentinel Peak (1814m), however we weren’t experienced at off-track tramping so it remained on the wish list. We finally got around to doing this walk four years later, and it was very satisfying. There are views of various mountain peaks, rugged slopes, and both Lake Hawea and Lake Wanaka. One of the highlights for me was the very attractive summit – both looking at it, and the views from it. This is a walk for the more adventurous hiker, as there is some navigation required, and a couple of places with mild exposure. Nothing too serious though – we’re no mountaineers! Continue reading “Sentinel Peak ascent, Lake Hawea, Otago NZ”

Gertrude Saddle & Barrier Knob, Fiordland National Park NZ

Some of the best views we’ve ever seen from Gertrude Saddle in Fiordland National Park, then even better ones from Barrier Knob (1879m).

Gertrude Saddle (1410m)

You’d be hard pressed to find better views for only moderate effort than those at Gertrude Saddle.  The fabulous scenery starts on the drive in, and continues right to the saddle, where the best views still await you. I’d seen the pictures but it still knocked my socks off. There is some steep walking on bare rock to be done, but it’s not a long walk, and this accessibility makes it a quite popular. So you won’t get any feeling of isolated splendour unless you start very early, or perhaps very late. But the splendour is extra splendiferous, and makes this walk a must-do for any semi-fit person visiting Fiordland.

Barrier Knob (1879m)

For those wanting even more, the 1km and almost 500m vertical climb to Barrier Knob will make this one of the best day-walks you’ve ever done. The reward from this extra effort will be 360 degree views of the area, in particular the spectacular Lake Adelaide. In mid summer this last bit required climbing up steepish snow slopes, but we came equipped and found the going quite easy. Crossing the snow stopped a lot of the people who had begun to climb above Gertrude Saddle, and hence we had the summit to ourselves for over an hour on this cloudless day in peak holiday season. Continue reading “Gertrude Saddle & Barrier Knob, Fiordland National Park NZ”

Coronet Peak to Brow Peak, Queenstown NZ

Views over golden hills and into the Wakatiu Basin on this walk from Coronet Peak ski field to the summit (1650m) & then to Brow Peak (1456m).

I’d climbed Brow Peak (1456m) twice from Arrowtown, and it was one of the better walks I’d done, especially in nice lighting. I knew the route continued to Coronet Peak (1650m), and on Christmas Day my wife Sophia and I decided to fit this into the morning before a Christmas date with neighbours in the afternoon.

Walking through the ski field to the summit of Coronet Peak was not the best experience, but the views are excellent once at the summit. And then the ridge walk to Brow Peak is a much wilder affair, being free of ski apparatus. And as open tussock grass country you get views the whole way, over the Wakatipu Basin and rugged slopes on the southern side of the ridge, and numerous golden hills and valleys in all other directions. Continue reading “Coronet Peak to Brow Peak, Queenstown NZ”

Mt Taylor ascent, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ

Stark and rugged scenery on this epic day-hike to the summit of Mt Taylor (2333m), the highest peak in the Canterbury Foothills.

I’ll admit to being motivated by epic climbs to high peaks that I can knock off in a big day, and so Mt Taylor was always beckoning. At 2333m of elevation it is the highest mountain I’ve ever climbed, and at 31km and 1650m change in elevation, one of the longest walks I’ve done. The views from the summit over the stark landscape of the Canterbury High Country and Southern Alps are predictably a highlight, however I also very much enjoyed the walk up and down the Swin River South Branch through a very rugged gorge. And despite it being a cloudless Saturday I had the whole mountain to myself (and no Sophia with me that day). Continue reading “Mt Taylor ascent, Hakatere Conservation Park, Canterbury NZ”