Lower Wye Creek Track

The Lower Wye Creek Track is a  steep track that climbs a short distance up The Remarkables Mountain Range.  It  follows a pipeline through bush  to some pretty waterfalls, and affords  views over Lake Wakatipu.  It is part of the much longer Wye Creek to Lake Alta Track (25km one way).  The signposted track is accessed off State Highway 6, about 13km south of Queenstown.  After opening an unlocked gate, there is a short drive on an unsealed road up to the carpark.  The track is 4.5km (return) with an elevation gain of 430 metres.  With some generous stops to enjoy the ambience, the trip took us just over three hours, but could be done much more quickly.

 

GPS-tracked route (click to enlarge)

The track zig zags up a steep rocky route to a fork.  Turn left at the fork to continue up to the Wye Valley and eventually to Lake Alta, near The Remarkables Skifield.  Turn right to visit the waterfalls and complete the Lower Wye Creek Track.  This section to the waterfalls is no exit.

 

 

Steep rocky track

 

North Branch of Wye Creek

Wye Creek supplies water to the  small Wye Creek Hydroelectricity Scheme.  It has no storage dam as it is a ‘run of the river’ type scheme where water is collected from the north and south branches of the creek and piped down to a small power station close to Lake Wakatipu.

 

North branch

Originally built in the late 1920s by a gold dredging company, the Wye Creek plant was purchased by the former Otago Central Electric Power Board (now Pioneer Energy) in 1941.  It has had two refurbishments, including an additional generator and turbine in 1991 and the original generator was replaced in 2011.  It now has an annual power generation of 10 Gigawatt hours.

 

Track on top of pipeline

For around 500 metres the track sidles along the hillside on top of the pipeline between the first and second waterfalls.  There are two planks of wood underfoot and a handrail on the downhill side. It is best to keep eyes looking ahead as there are some steep drop-offs if your eyes venture downwards.

 

Views to Lake Wakatipu from the pipeline

 

Worth a stop at the helicopter pad beside the track

 

South branch of Wye Creek, water piped from here too

This is the farthest point of the track.

 

Following the water pipe on the return journey

 

Schist climbing crags on the flanks of The Remarkables

 

Low on the track

 

Lower section of pipeline

The ladders are not part of the walking trail but on a deviation from the track.

 

View from the bottom (click to enlarge)

On looking back up from the bottom of the track, the green dot shows the position of the helicopter pad, near the south branch of Wye Creek.

 

From the low end of the track there is a view back to Queenstown, to the cleared forest where the  gondola is situated on Bob’s Peak, and to Ben Lomond (far left).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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