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.
A scenic track is the Lake Hayes Walkway, situated between Queenstown and Arrowtown. The loop track follows the edge of Lake Hayes, with mountain and lake views to enjoy during around two hours of walking.
The Hooker Valley Track is one of New Zealand’s premier walks. It is among our highest mountains and follows the Hooker River to the Hooker Glacier Terminal Lake, a trip of about three hours (return). We walked the track on a calm and sunny day in early September.
Dubbed the ‘Stairway to Heaven”, the more than 2200 steps up the steep pathway to Sealey Tarns are well worth the effort for the views. The three to four hour trek (return) affords panoramic views.
The Routeburn Track is one of New Zealand’s nine Great Walks, a set of premier tramping tracks. Straddling Fiordland National Park and Mt Aspiring National Park, the Routeburn’s highest point is 1300 metres and its lowest point is 477 metres. There are rivers, lakes, forests, tussocklands and alpine views – wild and scenic landscapes in its 32 kilometres. We set off from the Divide (near the Homer Tunnel on the Milford Road) and completed the track three days later at Glenorchy, at the northern end of Lake Wakatipu.
Day One – the Divide to Lake Mackenzie Lodge (12km)
Leaving our packs on the track at the turn-off, we took a 30 minute walk up to Key Summit.
As a pre-Christmas trek, we walked the Bridle Path, from the Heathcote Valley over the Port Hills to Lyttelton. On the way we passed an information board which reminded us of the challenges faced by the early European settlers who arrived in Christchurch in 1850. The photo on the left, originally from the Canterbury Museum and taken about 1880, appears on the information board.
The Otago Peninsula is a long finger of land, running 20km alongside Otago Harbour. It is hilly and rugged, and is home to some magnificent marine life and birdlife. (Click on map to enlarge.)