Brow Peak – Bush Creek Circuit, Arrowtown NZ

A shortish route up Brow Peak (1456m) for excellent views over backcountry to the north, & the Wakatipu Basin to the south. There a few options to make a circuit, including back along the picturesque Bush Creek.

This was my third time up Brow Peak, having ascended via Big Hill Saddle twice, and almost getting to the summit from Coronet Peak. (I ran out of time on Christmas Day, needing to get back for festivities with friends). This is a short ascent and good if you want the views without so much walking, however there are less views than walking the longish ridge from Big Hill. If it’s your first time up I recommend going this longer route. Nevertheless, excellent views await you at the summit, especially of the backcountry to the north, and this route offers a nice return circuit along picturesque Bush Creek. Continue reading “Brow Peak – Bush Creek Circuit, Arrowtown NZ”

Mt Crichton from Avalanche Creek, Queenstown NZ

A steep and direct route to the summit of Mt Crichton (1870m) near Queenstown, with fabulous views including Lake Isobel and Lake Wakatipu.

This is a shorter version of one of my favourite walks, to the summit of Mt Crichton (1870m), near Queenstown. Although less picturesque than the longer route (from the Mt Crichton Loop Track), this way is quite direct and offers some variety if you’ve already done that other route. The views from the summit and also the peak at 1845m are spectacular, and include Lake Isobel and Lake Wakatipu. Continue reading “Mt Crichton from Avalanche Creek, Queenstown 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 Lake 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. See my post on a shorter out and back climb to the summit here

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. Best allocate all day for this route. 

Helicopter Hill-Lyndon Saddle-Camp Saddle Circuit, Craigieburn Range, Canterbury NZ

A pleasant half-day walk in the Craigieburn Range taking in views from Helicopter Hill, then more views from Lyndon Saddle to Camp Saddle.

This circuit walk in the Craigieburn Range visiting Lyndon Saddle and Camp Saddle is a good half day option with views of the Castle Hill Basin, Craigieburn Range and Torlesse Range. We took a side trip to Helicopter Hill (1256m) for the first of the views, and that would make a much shorter but worthwhile walk if you had limited time. For a bit more adventure then climb off-track along a ridge at about 1500m to Camp Saddle, with views all the way. The return section is a pleasant enough walk down through tussock and then back into native forest. Continue reading “Helicopter Hill-Lyndon Saddle-Camp Saddle Circuit, Craigieburn Range, Canterbury NZ”

Mt Clara via Fowlers Pass, St James Conservation Area, Canterbury NZ

A remote feeling tramp to the summit of Mt Clara (1945m) in the St James Conservation Area, with spectacular views, especially in winter.

Although I’d read about the walk to Mt Clara (1945m) before, I decided to do it when the knowledgeable owner of Hanmer Backpackers (Tristan) recommended it to us. In winter conditions it turned out to be one of the better walks we’ve done. The conditions on the tops in winter were proper alpine, and the views north and east in particular were quite spectacular. And you get those views for much of the walk. It’s a long and remote enough tramp to be a bit adventurous, but short enough to fit comfortably into a long winter’s day. Continue reading “Mt Clara via Fowlers Pass, St James Conservation Area, Canterbury NZ”

Mt Cassidy – Blimit Traverse, Arthur’s Pass National Park NZ

Fabulous alpine views, lovely beech forest, and a good amount of adventure on the Mt Cassidy – Blimit Traverse at Arthur’s Pass.

The Mt Cassidy – Blimit Traverse starts on the Cons Track and finishes on the Temple Basin Track and Arthur’s Pass Walking Track. But in between it is one of the more adventurous of the very accessible walks starting on the highway at Arthur’s Pass. I’ve got used to these walks being spectacular but I think this one probably took the views to a new level.

You get to bag two peaks, Mt Cassidy (1850m) and Blimit (1922m, apparently short for “Bloody Limit”), the latter being a longish scramble to probably the best views of the day. Returning via Temple Basin makes it a quite varied circuit. Apart from epic alpine vistas, there is very attractive beech forest on the way up the Cons Track, amongst the nicest I’ve seen in New Zealand. So for views and adventure in a medium to long day this route is hard to beat. Continue reading “Mt Cassidy – Blimit Traverse, Arthur’s Pass National Park NZ”

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”