Category Archives: day hikes

St Arnaud Range Track

Together with the Avalanche Peak Track, the St Arnaud Range Track was listed as the top day walk of Lonely Planet´s South Island travel guide. Which is why I chose this as my first walk in Nelson Lakes National Park,  having arrived at St Arnaud´s village after a 20+ hours drive, straight up from the torrential rains in  Milford Sound.

Lake Rotoiti
                                                   Lake Rotoiti

The St Arnaud Range Track is a straight-forward 600 meter climb from the east side of Lake Rotoiti,  up through forest to the ridgeline. A 5 hour return trip. The forest is pleasant enough, the view from the ridge is fine. However, compared to the spectacular Robert Ridge Route to Angelus Hut just at the other side of the Rotoiti lake, I am curious as to just exactly why this hike was nominated a Top Two South Island day hike? Not to mention the superb Mueller Hut Track and the world class hike up the Pacific coastline from Kohaihai to Heaphy Hut?

Highlights: The view from the ridge line.

Difficulty: 2

Information, and maps: DOC (Department of Conservation).

The complete photogallery of St Arnaud Range Track (February 2016) is available on flickr.

Galdhøpiggen summit climb

At 2469 meters, Galdhøpiggen is the highest moutain in Norway (indeed in Northern Europe) and many Norwegians aim to climb it at least once. There are two choices:

From Juvasshytta: The easier choice, including 600 m ascent and a (very moderate) glacier crossing, with ropes and guide, which depart daily. Most people chose this option.

From Spiterstulen: 1300 m straightforward ascent from Spiterstulen mountain lodge, no glacier crossings and no technical sections. The initial 500 meters ascent takes you above the valley, then the snowfields begin and a considerable part of the rest of the hike is on snow.

Coffee shop at Galdhøpiggen summit
Coffee shop at Galdhøpiggen summit

Once at the summit, you see the hundreds of people coming up from the other track from the Juvasshytta. On a fine day, as it was when I walked up from Spiterstulen, it can get quite crowded at the summit. In Nepalese style there even is a coffee shop, accepting credit cards at the summit and the glacier guide I saw on the summit was Nepalese as well.

In fine weather Galdhøpiggen summit hike is a great hike, with fantastic views over large parts of Jotunheimen and numerous glaciers from the top.

On the way from Spiterstulen to Galdhøpiggen
             On the way from Spiterstulen to Galdhøpiggen

Highlights: The summit: The views, the atmosphere, the coffee shop.

Difficulty: 4. A long, relatively steep with no exposure, no scrambling, but long sections on snow.

Information  and map: ut.no, summitpost

The complete photogallery of the Galhøpiggen Summit hike is available on flickr.

Mount Taranaki Summit Track

Mount Taranaki crater
Mount Taranaki crater

Being the only mountain in the South-Western part of New Zealand´s North Island, Mount Taranaki truly stands out and the climb to the summit may just be the finest day hike in New Zealand.  A tough day out however, I took 9 hours to reach the summit of Mount Taranaki, a 1600 meters ascent from the North Egmont Visitor Centre. After an initial 500 meters ascent on gravel road (aptly named The Puffer) followed by steps,  the tough part begins with a very steep and very exhausting scree slope. A rocky ridge is reached, which then leads to the  snowfilled crater and finally, after a steep 50 meters ascent out of the crater, the summit is reached.
Needless to say, in fine weather the views are spectacular, with a blanket of clouds aggregating just below the crater, reaching all the way to mountains of the Tongariro National Park. This is only a climb to be attempted in good weather.

Climbing Mount Taranaki
Climbing Mount Taranaki

Highlights: Crossing the snowfilled crater; The views from the summit

Difficulty: 4-5. The ascent, especially on the scree is quite steep. Though no scrambling is required it is a very steep and exhausting climb.

Information, bookings (all accomodation incl. tent spaces must be booked in advance) and maps: DOC (Department of Conservation).

The complete photogallery of the Mount Taranaki Summit Climb (January 2016) is available on flickr.

Mueller Hut Route

The Mueller Hut Route, Aoraki/Mout Cook National Park:

The Mueller Hut is reached after 1000 meters straight ascent from the valley floor near White Horse Hill Campsite/Car Park in the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. The initial 500 meters ascent is on carved steps, the remainder on rocks and scree and though steep, it is not as steep as the Mount Taranaki summit climb and no scrambling is required to reach the hut. 30 minutes before the Mueller Hut a windy ridge with spectacular views of the nearby Mt Sefton as well as several hanging glaciers is reached and these views are the highlight of this day. The route is well-marked and route finding should not be an issue in fine weather. I did not stay at the Mueller hut, but returned to White Horse Hill Campsite, where, in the meantime, my tent had blown away and the poles were broken…

Mueller Hut Route, Aoraki / Mount Cook
Mueller Hut Route, Aoraki / Mount Cook

Highlights: Once the top ridge is reached, the views of Mt Sefton and the surrounding hanging glaciers are glorious.

Difficulty: 4. The ascent is quite steep, though no scrambling sections.

Information, bookings (all accomodation incl. tent spaces must be booked in advance) and maps: DOC (Department of Conservation).

The complete photogallery of the Mueller Hut Track as well as the Hooker Valley hike is available on flickr.

Avalanche Peak

Avalanche Peak Track:

  • Two well-marked pole routes to the summit, 1100 meters ascent directly from Arthur´s Pass Village.
  • I took the slightly steeper Avalanche Peak Track up and  the Scott´s track down, thus completing the circuit in 5 h 15 minutes.
  • Cloudy until the bushline, a glorious view of surrounding peaks opened up once the last tree had been passed.
  • Together with the Mount Taranaki Summit Track and the Mueller Hut Track, this is one of the great hikes of New Zealand.
  • Note that the South Island mountain parrot, the Kea around the campsite at Arthur´s pass are quite aggressive (rather: curious): While I got away with a couple of small holes in my tent (being asleep inside it), my neighbors tent was ruined.
  • Kea may also be seen flying around Avalanche Peak.
Avalanche Peak
                         The summit ridge – Avalanche Peak

Highlights: Climbing the ridge to the Avalanche Peak summit above the bush line.

Difficulty: 4. The ascent is quite steep, though no scrambling sections. The ridge is not, in my opinion, exposed.

Information, bookings (all accommodation incl. tent spaces must be booked in advance) and maps: DOC (Department of Conservation).

The complete photogallery of the Avalanche Peak Trek is available on flickr.