Washpen Falls Track

An hour’s drive from Christchurch is the Washpen Falls Track.   It is a private track on a back country working farm in the Malvern Hills, through which the  loop track has been created.  It passes through a stunning  ancient volcanic canyon, now full of native bush and a continuous chorus of birdsong.  After perusing information in the old woolshed, visitors can pick up a guide which gives information about interest points along the track.  Allow one to three hours for the walk, according to how long is spent at each viewpoint, and level of fitness (there are some steep sections).

Through pine forest

Continue reading


Kennedy’s Bush Track re-opens

A popular Port Hills track has re-opened after a year in which walkers and cyclists were unable to use it.  After the Port Hills fires a year ago, the track was closed while burnt trees were felled due to safety concerns.  This Easter weekend the track was opened again, much to the delight of people who use it as a stand alone walk/ride, but also as access to the Summit Road and other tracks near there.

Previously the track passed through treed areas, which added interest to the scenery and provided some wind shelter.

Some photos of the track prior to the fires –

May 2014

Continue reading

Panorama Ski Resort, British Columbia

We arrived in Panorama Ski Resort in late February, after an evening drive from Calgary Airport via Canmore.  The temperature at 11pm was -28C, and had been colder on previous evenings.  The daytime temperatures were unusually cold for first few days, (sometimes -20C at the summit) however it warmed up to more pleasant temperatures after a few days.

Upper village

Situated in the Purcell Mountains, in southeastern British Columbia, Panorama has a ski-in, ski-out village at 1,150m .   The locals refer to the resort as being in a ‘doughnut’, the resort often having pleasant weather while it is snowing in the  surrounding mountains above. (Click any image to enlarge.)


Continue reading

Mt Crichton Loop Track, Queenstown

During a period of hot summer weather, we chose to walk the Mt Crichton Loop Track, not only for its scenic and historical aspects, but also because it provided  shade.  The walk includes river, waterfall, forest, and lake views and passes by historic landmarks. The nine kilometre track took around three hours (including stops) from a minimum altitude of 383 metres to a maximum altitude of 604 metres.  It is accessed from the Mt Crichton carpark, about 11km from Queenstown on the Glenorchy Road.

View of Lake Wakatipu from early on the  track

We completed the track in an anti-clockwise direction. Although the walk is not strenuous, this avoided climbing a few of the steeper hill sections.

Continue reading

Kepler Track – Brod Bay to Luxmore Hut

The Kepler Track is one of the nine Great Walks of New Zealand.  Situated in Fiordland National Park, in the southwest of the South Island, it is a 60km loop track that has been developed and maintained by the Department of Conservation. Normally it takes three or four days to walk the track, carrying packs.  There are three huts along the way, provided for sleeping.  However sections can be walked as day tramps.

In late November, in warm and sunny conditions, and with our day packs, we completed a section of the walk, from Brod Bay to Luxmore Hut. It is a  tramp of 8.2km (each way) and an altitude gain of 675 metres.  It took us under six hours of walking (return), including some food/water stops and time to admire the views.

Kepler Track map (click to enlarge)

Map source : http://www.doc.govt.nz/Documents/parks-and-recreation/tracks-and-walks/southland/kepler-track-brochure.pdf


Water taxi at Te Anau

We began our day by catching the water taxi at 8.30am. It took us from the township of Te Anau across Lake Te Anau to Brod Bay, a ten minute trip.

Continue reading

Ancient Clay Cliffs of Omarama

We wandered under the stunning ancient Clay Cliffs, near Omarama, in the Upper Waitaki River Basin, North Otago. Fantastic pinnacles and ravines, formed by natural erosion on the active Ostler Fault, laid down millions of years ago as ocean sediment.  There is a signposted road on State Highway 8, just north of Omarama, to access the Clay Cliffs.  There is an honesty box of $5 per car at the entry gate.

Continue reading