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.

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Lower Kimi Akau (Shotover) Trail

A track to explore in the Queenstown area is the recently developed Lower Kimi Akau Trail, a scenic track that follows a section of the Shotover River.  It is a shared-use track for walkers and for cyclists (single track for experienced cyclists only).


Click to enlarge

The complete Lower Kimi Akau Trail is approximately 10km.  It winds its way from near the Arthur’s Point end of Littles Road down to the Old Shotover Bridge.  On this occasion, we walked a 7km section of the trail, shown by the solid red line, beginning at Fitzpatrick Road (an alternative access point) .  The broken red line leads from the Arthur’s Point end of the trail. The trail is mostly within sight of the Shotover River, dropping down to the river at times.  There is an exposed section where it would be advisable to supervise young children.

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Weka Pass Railway

Weka Pass Railway is an historic rural railway in North Canterbury, 60km north of Christchurch.  It uses vintage locomotives and carriages on the 12.8km line, previously part of the Waiau line which was closed in 1978.  The Weka Pass Railway Society purchased the section of line from Waipara to Waikari in 1983, and the totally volunteer organisation has been dedicated to the preservation of New Zealand’s rail heritage.  The locomotives and carriages are representative of those which operated on rural Canterbury Branch Lines in the heyday of New Zealand Railways.

Glenmark Station, the southern terminus and starting point

Glenmark Station was built in 1910 and served as the Mina Station on the Main North Line.  It was transported to its current location in 1987 after a local resident raised funds and made donations to preserve and transport the building.  A new roof was constructed, new foundations were made and a verandah fitted.  It has been in use since 1988.

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Highline at Castle Hill

In early June 2020, a highline (a type of slackline) was operating at Castle Hill.  The non-commercial highline was 145 metres long and set above magnificent weather-sculpted limestone boulders. The Castle Hill Basin sits between the Craigieburn and Torlesse Mountain Ranges, which appear in some of the images.  Castle Hill is about 95km west of Christchurch, on Highway 73. (Click any image to enlarge.)


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Mt Peel Church and the Himalayan Lilies

The Mt Peel Church is on Mt Peel  Station, in South Canterbury.  The station has been farmed by six generations of the Acland family since the station was established in 1856.  The church is open for visitors throughout the year.  The original homestead is open only on nominated days.  The  Himalayan Lilies among the trees can be seen in early December.  Nearby there are a number of walks.


Church of the Holy Innocents, Mt Peel

The heritage-listed church and the cemetery sit  below Mt Peel and have been witness to floods, droughts and heavy snow .  The exterior was constructed from greywacke boulders from the Rangitata River.  It was named in remembrance of four infants who died between 1864 and 1869 and are buried in the cemetery.  The land for the church was donated by the Aclands, and the first service was held in 1869.

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Leo Tolstoy’s home in Moscow


“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
Leo Tolstoy

Leo Tolstoy and his wife Sophia, (Repin 1907)

Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (know as Leo Tolstoy) was born into Russian aristocracy in 1828.  He became one of the world’s most famous authors, with novels such as ‘War and Peace’, ‘Anna Karenina’ , the semi-autobiographical trilogy ‘Childhood’, ‘Boyhood’ and ‘Youth’, also ‘Sevastopol Sketches’, based on his experiences in the Crimean War.   In the 1870’s, he  experienced a spiritual awakening, resulting in his becoming a pacifist . He also took up many humanitarian issues related to common people.  His writings continued, including dozens of short stories and novellas.    His ideas on nonviolent resistance, in such works as ‘The Kingdom of God is Within You’, had an impact on  influential 20th century figures including  Mahatma Gandi and Martin Luther King.

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‘Lady of the Lake’ – TSS Earnslaw

We chose a sunny winter’s day for my first trip on the TSS Earnslaw, taking in the views on Lake Wakatipu on the way.  Our three and half hour journey (return) took us from Queenstown to Walter Peak High Country Farm, on just a small section of this large lake (see orange line on map below).  The boat trip was 45 minutes each way, but we stopped off at the farm for a tour and some refreshments.

Lake Wakatipu (click to enlarge)

Map source:


TSS Earnslaw arriving in Queenstown to pick up passengers

The Earnslaw is a vintage twin screw coal-fired steamer, built in 1912.  It operates 11 months of the year on Lake Wakatipu (only stopping for an annual survey), ferrying passengers to and fro for up to 14 hours per day in the summer months.  It is the only remaining commercial passenger-carrying coal-fired steamship in the southern hemisphere.

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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

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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.

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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.

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