Mt Binser ascent, Arthur’s Pass National Park NZ

Top class views of numerous peaks & two river valleys on this somewhat adventurous walk up Mt Binser (1860m) in Arthur’s Pass National Park.

Mt Binser had been recommended by a mountaineering neighbour of ours as a walk with great views and a bit of bush bashing to add to a sense of adventure. My wife Sophia rated the views as possibly the best we’d seen since arriving in NZ seven months earlier, which was a big call considering the quality of walks we’d done in that time. The views were spectacular though, taking in two river valleys, including views right up the Waimakariri River, countless peaks in every direction, many of them now familiar to us from other walks, and the rugged bare slopes of Mt Binser itself. Continue reading “Mt Binser ascent, Arthur’s Pass National Park NZ”

Mt Bealey ascent, Arthur’s Pass National Park NZ

A classic walk in Arthur’s Pass National Park to the summit of Mt Bealey (1836m), with grand mountain and valley views most of the way.

Climbing Mt Bealey is one of a few classic walks starting conveniently on the highway through Arthur’s Pass Village. The others include the popular walk up neighbouring Avalanche Peak , Mt Aicken across the valley, plus more we’ve yet to do. As for all of these walks you start with a steep ascent in beech forest, then once above the bushline there are extensive views of very scenic country, with many a rugged peak and deep valley to feast your eyes upon. Continue reading “Mt Bealey ascent, Arthur’s Pass National Park NZ”

Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury NZ

Really spectacular views of the Southern Alps and surrounds from the summit of Mt Potts (2184m), in the upper Rangitata Valley.

The long tramp up Mt Potts in the upper Rangitata Valley is a real classic, with awe inspiring views from the summit topping off great views from before you even leave your car. I’d first come across Mt Potts on another hiking blog, and despite them not including many interesting photos my interest had already been piqued. It is a high peak at 2184m, and doable from the bottom (600m) on a long day hike, so that meets my criteria for a great physical peak-bagging challenge. It also came highly recommended in the excellent Canterbury Foothills: A Walking and Tramping Guide. With spectacular views of the Southern Alps promised I made it a target for mid spring, with longer days but still some snow up high. It turned out to be one of our best walks to date: highly recommended for fit trampers with basic navigation skills.

Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
Mt Potts viewed on the drive in.
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
The views on the drive in were already great. I imagine winter is pretty spesh.

Track notes at the end.

Mt Potts Circuit: The Scenery

Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
Looking up towards point 2140m at the end of the valley.
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
A panorama over the Rangitata, Havelock and Clyde Rivers, and of course the Southern Alps behind.
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
Looking up towards point 2140m at the end of the valley. We took the road to the left on the way back.
The Ben McLeod Range and Rangitata River.
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
A prominent mountain in the Southern Alps, possibly Mt D’Archiac (2875m).

Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury

Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
The Pyramid (1748m) to the right. It looks more like a pyramid from the road.
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
Sophia with point 2140m to the right.
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
The Pyramid with Lake Clearwater and Lake Camp just visible to the right in the distance.
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
Looking roughly north-west. Our return route is visible on the side of the valley below.
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
There were some colourful rocks.
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
Looking south-east.
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
Sophia on the low summit of Mt Potts (2152m). A spot of telephotography exaggerating the height and proximity of the mountains behind.
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
Walking from the low summit to the high summit of Mt Potts.
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
Sophia contemplating the epic views towards Mt Arrowsmith from the summit of Mt Potts (2184m).
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
Looking roughly north over the Southern Alps.
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
Looking roughly north over the Southern Alps.
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
Many snowy peaks to the north. A follower on Instagram said this was like looking at a menu at a nice restaurant when you’re starving. I replied that some of these meals might be a bit big for me.
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
Looking south-east. The low summit is to the right. Lakes Clearwater, Camp and Emma a distant centre.

Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury

Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
I believe this is Mt Arrowsmith (2781m).
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
I believe the prominent peak is Mt Arrowsmith (2781m).
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
One of my favourite shots from the day, a panorama from the summit of Mt Potts looking north towards Mt Arrowsmith.
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
Sophia backed by the Southern Alps and Havelock River.
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
Sophia points the way on our descent. Some of these patches of snow were actually very deep drifts.

Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury

Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
Sophia below. Point 2140m to the right.
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
Sophia backed by point 2140m.
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
On our way down from the summit towards the saddle below point 2003m.
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
Cliffs at the head of the valley.
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
I thought the valley walk back would be a bit boring but I was wrong about that. Plus it was a nice change to walk on a vehicle track. (This track was significantly washed out in places.)
Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
Looking down the valley towards the Ben McLeod Range.


Track Notes

Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
Most of this walk is on public conservation land, with an easement through private land at the very start. We walked anti-clockwise, and there is no track until you return through the valley on a vehicle track.

We started on the easement track, then entered forest and walked along the edge of a canyon for a short while until the canyon flattens out to allow a crossing of the stream. Meltwater had made the stream rather wild and we ended up crossing on a tree (not exactly recommended, but it was the best of the options at the time).

Mt Potts Circuit, Canterbury
Sophia crossing the stream near the start. I imagine this would be a lot safer without meltwater.

From there it was out of the forest onto the south west spur, up through shingle/ scree and along the ridge to Mt Potts’ low peak. It is then an easy walk to the high peak where the best views of the day are to be had. We had considered walking back the way we came, but to get out of the gale force winds we decided to return via the valley to the west, and that turned out to be a very nice variation. (Not sure if this would be a safe option in winter or not.) Plus we made quick progress once on the vehicle track in the valley. You can follow this track back to the start, but we took a spur down to the forest and along a fenceline to the easement track near the start. (Staying on the track would possibly have been easier.)

The DOC website has info on the Mt Potts Easement Track in their Hakatere Conservation Park brochure.

Purple Hill from Lake Pearson, Canterbury NZ

A thousand metre off-track climb to the summit of Purple Hill (1680m) rewards with great views of Lake Pearson and the Craigieburn Range.

If you’ve driven out to Arthur’s Pass from Christchurch then you’ve passed Purple Hill (1680m), a fairly imposing mound that looms above Lake Pearson as you approach from the south-west. It stands alone, so I expected good views from the summit, and wasn’t disappointed. The pointy (-ish) summit itself is fairly rugged, with long and colourful scree slopes to the west, so it was a fun one to visit. At a little over 1000 vertical metres to the top, and no track, it requires some fitness, but is well worth the effort, and navigation was straightforward.

Track notes at the end. (Note that this walk is on private land and permission is required to access it. We didn’t know that, and I explain more in the track notes section.)

Purple Hill from Lake Pearson: The Scenery

Purple Hill from Lake Pearson, Canterbury
The view back towards Baldy Hill and Mt Misery over the northern swampy end of Lake Pearson.
Purple Hill from Lake Pearson, Canterbury
First look at Lake Pearson from the north-western spur.
Purple Hill from Lake Pearson, Canterbury
The view from towards the top of the north-western spur.
Purple Hill from Lake Pearson, Canterbury
Looking north.
Purple Hill from Lake Pearson, Canterbury
Scree slopes on the western side of Purple Hill.
Purple Hill from Lake Pearson, Canterbury
Surgarloaf (1359m) in the centre, and Arthur’s Pass National Park beyond.
Purple Hill from Lake Pearson, Canterbury
Approaching the last climb to the summit.

Purple Hill from Lake Pearson, Canterbury

Purple Hill from Lake Pearson, Canterbury
Sophia admiring the view over Lake Pearson towards the Craigieburns from the summit of Purple Hill (1680m).
Purple Hill from Lake Pearson, Canterbury
Looking east over a rather barren lookinng Mt Saint Bernard (1518m).

Purple Hill from Lake Pearson, Canterbury

Purple Hill from Lake Pearson, Canterbury
Mt Binser to the right, and the Waimakariri River winding past it.
Purple Hill from Lake Pearson, Canterbury
The Craigieburn Range behind.
Purple Hill from Lake Pearson, Canterbury
On our way down from the summit.
Purple Hill from Lake Pearson, Canterbury
Looking back up at the summit of Purple Hill.

Purple Hill from Lake Pearson, Canterbury

Purple Hill from Lake Pearson, Canterbury
Looking across farmland towards the Craigieburns, the Dark Range, and Arthur’s Pass National Park.

Track Notes

Purple Hill from Lake Pearson, Canterbury
Off track the whole way. The section around the lake is a little cumbersome but it’s an easy if rather steep climb from there until higher up the mountain, when the gradient eases.

Access

Purple Hill is entirely on private land, and although I’d read twice that permission was not required to access this land, two other trampers we met that day had encountered the farmer and been told that they should have asked for permission. It looks like ownership changed a few years ago and so these other notes are now out of date. I believe the land is managed by Craigieburn Station, but I don’t know their contact details. What looked to be fairly unreliable information online showed their number to be 03 318 8618, but I’ve not tried to call. Perhaps you can let me know if you work it out and I will update these details.

The Walk

The walk starts from Lake Pearson Campspite at the northern end of the lake. From there you head north-east with the lake on your right, walking a short way down a vehicle track and crossing over a stile near a hut. You then walk along a fenceline, hugging the lake shore more closely, until you come to a swampy section of land at the very northern extreme of the lake. It’s then along the fenceline some more and over the fence towards Long Hill Saddle. You cross the fence once more and head straight up the hill, meeting the north-western spur, and following it up to the summit. The section around the lake is a little cumbersome, but it’s an easy if rather steep climb from there until higher up the mountain, where the gradient eases.

I’ve read that it’s possible to return via a long scree run and the lake shore to the west, or even swimming over the lake at it’s narrowest point, but I think returning the way you came is an easier option.

Castle Hill Peak via Foggy Peak (in spring), Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park, Canterbury NZ

Our second time to do this classic Canterbury tramp, this time in a bit of snow: Castle Hill Peak (1998m) via Foggy Peak (1741m).

I first did this classic Canterbury walk up Castle Hill Peak (1998m) via Foggy Peak in autumn, not long after I had arrived in Christchurch (that post here). On that snowless day there were gale force winds and the final ascent to the summit felt rather adventurous. I had wanted to return and repeat the walk in snow because I’d read that it made for good winter tramping. The Torlesse Range captures and holds a fair bit of snow, so I waited until a sunny day in early spring to do this, having so many good new walks to do over the winter. Continue reading “Castle Hill Peak via Foggy Peak (in spring), Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park, Canterbury NZ”

Ben More Tops Circuit, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park, Canterbury NZ

Rugged scenery as you ascend to Ben More (1655m) along broad ridges on this circuit walk in Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park.

I’d heard this circuit walk along the tops of Ben More, the high point of the Big Ben Range in Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park, was a good winter tramping option, with safe enough travel for those less experienced in snow. By time we did the walk in early spring there’s wasn’t much slow left, but enough to add to the aesthetics of the area. However I think the rugged scenery would look good in any season. Continue reading “Ben More Tops Circuit, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park, Canterbury NZ”

Mt Cloudsley via Long Spur, Craigieburn Forest Park, Canterbury NZ

Great views in all directions as you climb to the accessible high peak of Mt Cloudsley (2107m) in the Craigieburn Range near Castle Hill.

This was my first time to climb a 2000 metre high peak from the bottom (the bottom being at 760m in this case), and was also the highest I’d climbed in New Zealand.  Despite these numbers it is a fairly straightforward climb up Long Spur to the summit of Mt Cloudsley (2107m), the second highest peak in the Craigieburn Range. It made for a great winter walk after some fresh snow, with views along the Craigieburn Range and over to the Torlesse Range, and from the summit, views south-west over a jumble of topography around Lake Coleridge, and north-west towards numerous peaks in the Southern Alps. Continue reading “Mt Cloudsley via Long Spur, Craigieburn Forest Park, Canterbury NZ”

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”

Mt Charon & Dunblane, Hanmer Range, Canterbury NZ

A long but excellent walk to the summit of Mt Charon (1560m) from Jacks Pass, also taking in the peak named Dunblane (1303m). Great views and very attractive heath vegetation. 

We wanted a quieter walk to do on our first trip to the Hanmer Springs area, and this was a great choice. We met nobody else on a Sunday doing this long but very enjoyable walk to the summit of Mt Charon (1560m) via Dunblane (1303m) from Jacks Pass (870m). The very colourful heath vegetation was a real highlight, as where the views towards numerous other mountains, over the Hanmer Plains, and into a few valleys. Going as far as Mt Charon felt satisfyingly remote, but the much shorter trip to only Dunblane and back would also be a good option. Continue reading “Mt Charon & Dunblane, Hanmer Range, 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”