Heaphy Track to Big Rock Beach & Swan Burn, Kahurangi National Park, West Coast NZ

A very attractive coastal section of the multi-day Heaphy Track, taking in many highlights of West Coast scenery in just half a day.

I was keen to see some quintessential West Coast scenery when we visited the Coast’s northernmost town of Karamea for the first time. A four kilometre section of the multiday Heaphy Track offers just that: a selection of nikau palm lined beaches, lush rainforest and river scenery. The brochures suggest the hour long walk to Scotts Beach as a short day-walk, but continuing on to Big Rock Beach and Swanburn Bridge provides better scenery for not much more effort. I was especially impressed with the nikau palms besides Big Rock Beach, and dense bush lining the Swan Burn (River). Continue reading “Heaphy Track to Big Rock Beach & Swan Burn, Kahurangi National Park, West Coast NZ”

Buckland Peaks Track, Paparoa National Park, West Coast NZ

Exceptional views over the Paparoa Range from the Buckland Peaks. Stay at the hut or camp out to give yourself more time to explore the tops.

I’d come across the Buckland Peaks Track while looking over topo maps, and it looked like a doozy. With a two day weather window and some mid week leave planned, my wife Sophia and I headed over to the West Coast and spent a night camping up on the Buckland Peaks tops. The views are exceptional, and with a decent sized plateau to wander around you can get numerous perspectives on peaks in the Paparoa Range, views inland, and views up and down the coast. Continue reading “Buckland Peaks Track, Paparoa National Park, West Coast NZ”

Crater Rim Track – Sign of the Bellbird to Coopers Knob, Port Hills, Christchurch NZ

A pleasant section of the Crater Rim Track in the Port Hills from Sign of the Bellbird to Coopers Knob (573m) with views much of the way.

I thought about doing this pleasant section of the Crater Rim Track in the Port Hills above Christchurch when we visited nearby Gibraltar Rock. Coopers Knob (573m) is the highest point in the Port Hills and provides excellent views over Lyttelton Harbour to the north-east. Starting at historic Sign of the Bellbird, there are patches of native bush along the way, as well as other worthy viewpoints.

Continue reading “Crater Rim Track – Sign of the Bellbird to Coopers Knob, Port Hills, Christchurch NZ”

Gibraltar Rock and Omahu Bush, Port Hills, Christchurch NZ

A pleasant circuit walk in Omahu Bush, stopping at Gibraltar Rock for 360 degree views over the Port Hills and Canterbury Plains.

The short walk from Summit Road to the top of Gibraltar Rock (502m) is a good leg stretcher if you are in that part of the Port Hills. For a leisurely 2-2.5 hour walk, continue on into Omahu Bush and do a circuit, dropping down into the valley to visit a small waterfall, then climb back out to the start. Depending on the route you take you will walk through sections of native bush, and in areas of regenerating bush with gorse. There are good views from a few points, including of course the summit of Gibraltar Rock. Continue reading “Gibraltar Rock and Omahu Bush, Port Hills, Christchurch NZ”

Christchurch Adventure Park to Gondola, Port Hills, Canterbury NZ

A short climb through Christchurch Adventure Park gets you views of Lyttelton Harbour & the Canterbury Plains. Enjoy the free gondola ride down.

A short climb up through Christchurch Adventure Park to views over the Canterbury Plains and Lyttelton Harbour. You can return the way you came but we descended on the gondola, which is free in that direction. Mostly pines trees and gorse to look at, but not a bad way to stretch the legs and the views form up top are good. Continue reading “Christchurch Adventure Park to Gondola, Port Hills, Canterbury NZ”

Mt Norma Route, Lewis Pass, Canterbury NZ

A lesser known walk up Mt Norma (1722m) in the Lewis Pass region, with spectacular views of numerous mountain peaks and glacial valleys.

I came across the Mt Norma Access Track on my way up Nina Valley, and as always got a bit excited at the prospect of another easily accessible mountain summit in the Lewis Pass area. I waited a long time for a good weather window to get up there, but it finally came in the middle of a very snowy winter, so the views of mountain peaks and valleys galore were extra beautiful. With so much snow this turned out to be a bit adventurous also, and probably the closest we’ve come to mountaineering.

Continue reading “Mt Norma Route, Lewis Pass, Canterbury NZ”

Moorhouse Range Tops, Tenahaun Conservation Area, Canterbury NZ

Excellent views of the Rangitata River and north-east towards Mt Taylor from the top of the Moorhouse Range (point 1153m).

This lesser known walk to the tops of the Moorhouse Range offers really excellent views of the Rangitata River and Harper Range to the west, and many other peaks including Mt Taylor to the north. There’s just 650m ascent and a fairly straightforward scrub bash to get these views, and you’re unlikely to meet anybody else. We did this walk after quite heavy snowfall so the views were extra good. Continue reading “Moorhouse Range Tops, Tenahaun Conservation Area, Canterbury NZ”

Rangitata Gorge on the Tenahaun Track, Canterbury NZ

An unexpectedly attractive walk through the Rangitata Gorge on the Tenahaun Track, to a viewpoint over mountains to the west.

The Tenahaun Track through the Rangitata Gorge was one of many NZ walks to exceed expectations. Starting near an irrigation canal diversion, the track is through private farmland almost the whole way, but the majority of it through the Rangitata Gorge is spectacular. When out of the gorge you can continue in a couple of directions, but we stopped on some rocks for views over plains to the Harper Range and over the Southern Alps. A very satisfying day out. Continue reading “Rangitata Gorge on the Tenahaun Track, Canterbury NZ”

Chain Hills Circuit, Lindis Valley, Otago NZ

A circuit through the Chain Hills for front and centre views of one of Central Otago’s most attractive mountain ranges, the St Bathans Range.

After first seeing the St Bathans Range with a bit of snow on it I had always wanted to visit and see them up close. So it was after plenty of snowfall that we headed out to a walk in the Chain Hills for front and centre views of this classic Central Otago scene. In snow the walk was scenic up on the tops, and felt quite remote for a day-walk of just moderate difficulty. And you can make a circuit of it by taking the Shilmar, Chain Hills and Long Acre Tracks. Continue reading “Chain Hills Circuit, Lindis Valley, Otago NZ”

Double Peak from Lindis Pass, Otago / Canterbury NZ

A short but steep climb to Double Peak (1323m) for spectacular views over the Lindis Pass Scenic Reserve, on the Otago/Canterbury border.

The Lindis Pass Scenic Reserve is a particularly attractive area of tussock covered mountains bisected by state highway 8.  If you have driven between Otago and Canterbury along this route then you may have stopped at the Lindis Pass viewpoint for a quick look. This is already very nice, but to supercharge your views then invest around 1.5 hours heading up to Double Peak (1323m). Continue reading “Double Peak from Lindis Pass, Otago / Canterbury NZ”