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.
Mueller Glacier Lake, Mt Sefton and The Footstool, early on the track
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.
Sealy Tarns and The Footstool
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)
Track to Key Summit
Leaving our packs on the track at the turn-off, we took a 30 minute walk up to Key Summit.
Heathcote Valley from Bridle Path, about 1880 (on the left) and 2015 (on the right). Click to enlarge
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.)
Entrance to Otago Harbour from the Peninsula, looking across to Aramoana, natural sandbar on the left, and breakwater on the right
Pigeon Bay is a picturesque bay situated on the northern side of Banks Peninsula. It is accessed from State Highway 75 via Little River, turning left at Hilltop onto the Summit Road, then left onto Pigeon Bay Road after a few kilometres (77 km altogether from Christchurch). There is an out-and-back track which follows the eastern side of the bay out to the heads. Walking the track takes between four and five hours return. The track mostly follows a four wheel drive road which crosses farmland. I have walked the track twice and am posting photos from both of these trips.
First photos are from a trip in December (summer) 2014.
Track starts at the small settlement of Pigeon Bay
Pigeon Bay jetty
The weather was sunny and calm with an expected maximum of 15C as we set off for our autumn walk up Bealey Spur. There had been an early-season snowfall two days before. The remnants of this fall were still evident in the areas on the track where the sun had not reached.
Mist above the Waimakariri River at 10.30am, the Bealey Valley and mountains of Arthur’s Pass beyond
At 11.15am mist is starting to lift, looking east down the Waimakariri River