Day Tramps --- Upper Lake Wakatipu   

     Tramp Time Gain Refs
Notes Start
Short walks <2h <350m
Climbs to viewpoints
Mount Alfred 5h 1000m
MN p.63 photos Good track to bushline; steeper to ridge. Kinloch Road map
Sugar Loaf Pass, P1290 5.5h 850m
MN p.39 photos Track to Sugar Loaf pass; then easy tussock. Routeburn map
Leap Spur c1170 5h 800m
photos Track then easy grass, tussock, snow grass. Paradise Road/Dart map
Conical Hill 1515m 9h 1070m MN p.38 photos Bulldozed mini-road/track. Routeburn map
Muddy Spur (to 1740m) 8h 1400m MN p.55 photos Good track to bushline; easy tussock up ridge. Rees Valley map
Scott Creek 5.5h 670m
MN p.32 photos Rough track to the bushline. Off Kinloch Road map
Glacier Burn 3h 500m
MN p.32 photos Pleasant track to bushline Kinloch Road map
Big Devil hut 8h MN p.56 photos Track, then sheep trails. Rees Valley
Kea Basin 9h MN p.61 photos Track Rees Valley
Valley of the Trolls 10h MN p.35 photos Track, then raft or steep tussock Routeburn map
Lake Rere 4.5h 200m MN p.26 photos Track/farm road Greenstone map
Heather Jock Hut 6h 950m DOC photos Farm road/old mining track. Glenorchy Road
McIntosh Loop 8h 1000m photos Farm road/old mining track/tussock/track. Glenorchy Road
Sugar Loaf track 9h 800m MN p.39 photos Track Routeburn map
Sugar Loaf Peak traverse 8.5h 1000m none photos Bush/goat track/track Routeburn map
Kowhai Ck to Scott Ck 8h MN p.32 photos Bush, scrub, tussock, then track Routeburn
Emily Pass/Routeburn 13h MN p.36 photos The crossing of Emily Pass is semi-alpine. Routeburn
MN = Moir's Guide North 2013 (available from DOC).
Time = return time (without stops).
Gain = altitude gain.
In New Zealand, move left (not right!) to avoid oncoming traffic.
Blue text and thumbnails are links.

Short Walks

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Crichton Loop Crichton Loop Crichton Loop Crichton Loop Crichton Loop
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Crichton Loop Crichton Loop Crichton Loop Crichton Loop Crichton Loop
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12 mile-Bobs Cove 12 mile-Bobs Cove 12 mile-Bobs Cove 12 mile-Bobs Cove 12 mile-Bobs Cove 12 mile-Bobs Cove
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Glenorchy Lagoon Glenorchy Lagoon Glenorchy Lagoon
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Invincible Mine Invincible Mine
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Lake Sylvan Lake Sylvan Lake Sylvan Lake Sylvan

Queenstown-Glenorchy Road

Heather Jock Hut/Mount Alaska 1965m (Whakaari)

Start at the Whakaari carpark, on the Queenstown-Glenorchy road, about 2k before Glenorchy. Follow signs for Heather Jock hut. Biking up the easy part of Mount Judah farm road saves about an hour round trip.
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Earnslaw Rock burn peaks Cable Heather Jock Hut
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Panorama Wakatipu peaks Camp Jean Hut

Climb of Mt Alaska

From Heather Jock hut, continue on old mining tracks to the north ridge of Mount Alaska, and climb the ridge to summit (tussock, scree; about 4 hours return).
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Mt Alaska Earnslaw Summit From top

Larkins Slip Hut and beyond

The old mining tracks cross the ridge above Heather Jock hut at about 1440m, and continue up valley to the derelict Larkins Slip hut and beyond. However, some slips on the track make travel problematic.
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Earnslaw Wallers creek Beyond

Mt McIntosh Loop (Mt McIntosh 1701m; Black Peak 1989m) Whakaari

Start at the Whakaari carpark, on the Queenstown-Glenorchy road, about 2k before Glenorchy. Follow the signs for the Mt McIntosh Loop. Long Gulley saddle is about halfway in time (either direction). The Buckler Burn is normally only ankle deep in summer, but can be difficult after heavy rain.
Notes: DOC is continuing to restore huts in this area for overnight stays, including the Shickers Hut at 1400m. Camping is possible near the huts.
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Earnslaw Long Gulley Buckler Burn Larkin Peaks
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Descent ridge Dart/Rees Lake Wakatipu

In reverse

If you prefer to ascend (rather than descend) steep rough tracks, you may wish to do the loop in reverse. The track on the north side of the Buckler Burn starts north of the road bridge at the second road marker after the guard rail; see Moir's Guide p.67.
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Earnslaw Bonpland Mt Alfred Dart-Rees Earnslaw Ridge

McIntosh Hut/Mt McIntosh

The hut is about 30 minutes above Long Gulley saddle. The hut has a water tank and bunks, but you may prefer to camp. The ridge behind the hut is easily reached south of P1663 on a mining track. However, the views are better from the ridge north of P1663, which is reached on easy tussock. Follow the ridge north towards Mt McIntosh (1701m) until it becomes difficult.
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The hut P1663 Mt McIntosh P1663

Black Peak

To climb Black Peak, leave the route to McIntosh hut just before the hut and follow the old mining track towards Black Peak. Climb the final scree to the top, and return to the Mt McIntosh Loop. The climb of Black Peak adds about 3 hours to the McIntosh Loop.
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Black Peak Summit Temple Burn

Rees Valley

The Invincible Mine and Muddy Spur

Follow the track to the Invincible mine in the Rees valley. Continue on the track across Invincible creek, and climb Muddy Spur to a flat spot c1740m. To here, travel on the ridge is easy.
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Muddy Spur Invincible Mine Invincible Creek Invincible Creek
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Hut Muddy Spur Rees Valley Earnslaw

Big Devil hut

From Twenty Five Mile hut, it is possible to follow sheep trails on grass and tussock to the Big Devil hut (about 1.5 hours from the Rees; about 4 hours from the Muddy Creek car park). See Moir's Guide North for the route. The hut itself is locked. The Big Devil Creek chasm is spectacular --- 30m deep and 2m across. It is easy to find the bridge on the way in, but on the other side there's some dense scrub and bush with only a small animal track through it. Make sure you are able to find the track on the way back (no track, no bridge, no dinner).
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Earnslaw Osonzac Twins Earnslaw Head Peak Big Devil Hut

Kea Basin

Walking from the carpark at Muddy Creek to Twenty Five Mile Creek takes about 2 hours (when the Rees is low, it is possible to bike up the farm road; requires several crossings of the Rees). From Twenty Five Mile Creek, cross the Rees River and head towards the northern part of the shelf on the other side of the valley, about 1k north of Lennox Falls. The start of the track to Kea Basin is well marked, but you may have to climb over a locked gate and slide under an electric fence to get there.
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Rees Valley Rees Valley Kea Basin Kea Basin Kea Basin

Paradise Road/Dart Valley

Leap Spur, to the end of the ridge above the Earnslaw Burn

The ridge on the true left of the Earnslaw Burn ends in a large cliff, known as as "Lovers Leap". The spur leading from the Earnslaw Burn to the end of the ridge (above the cliff) can be climbed (easy grass slopes). Follow the Earnslaw Burn track until you reach grassy slopes leading up to the end of the ridge.

The Earnslaw Burn track is reached from Paradise road. Either turn right onto the last public road (Lovers Leap Road) before the bridge over the Burn, or turn right onto a short access road just past the bridge (park before the Burn; ford it; then climb up through beech forest crossing two fence lines to reach the track with its orange markers).

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Lovers Leap Earnslaw Burn Grassy slope Earnslaw Lake Wakatipu Earnslaw
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Earnslaw Earnslaw Diamond Lake Panorama

Routeburn Valley

P1290 East of Sugar Loaf Pass

About 15 minutes up the Routeburn track, a track leads off to the right with a sign "This is not the Routeburn track." Follow it to Sugar Loaf Pass, and then follow the easy tussock ridge east to a high point (P1290). It is possible to continue along the ridge to Sugar Loaf Peak (1329m). See below.
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Sugar Loaf Stream Emily Peak Earnslaw Somnus Somnus, Rock Burn Rock Burn

Conical Hill

Follow the Routeburn track to the Harris saddle, and then follow signs for Conical Hill.
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Bush Sugar Loaf Down valley North Branch Upper valley Lake Harris
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Mt Gifford Tutoko Moraine Creek Tutoko Martins Bay

Valley of the Trolls

In Old Norse sources, trolls are said to dwell in isolated mountains, rocks, and caves, and are rarely described as helpful or friendly (Wikipedia). The Valley of the Trolls is perfect troll country. It is at the top of Lake Harris, off the Routeburn track. It takes about 3.5 hours to walk into Lake Harris from the road. Allow 3 hours or so to visit the Valley of the Trolls, and another 3 hours to return from Lake Harris.
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Routeburn valley Lake Harris Valley of the Trolls Valley of the Trolls Valley of the Trolls Stream from L. Wilson

Sugar Loaf Track (circuit of Sugar Loaf Peak)

This is mainly a bush tramp, but with views of Lake Sylvan and the mountains. Start at the Lake Sylvan car park, and follow the track to the Rock Burn, and then back over the Sugar Loaf pass to the Routeburn (or do the reverse). The side trip to the junction of the Rock Burn and the Dart adds 30 minutes, but is worth it (if you can dodge the jet boats). The track is a bit rough near the pass, but otherwise was in good condition (March 2016). Plan for a long day.
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Lake Sylvan Bush Beans Burn Rock Burn
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Dart Bush Pass Pass

Traverse of Sugar Loaf Peak

For experienced trampers, this may be the best one-day tramp at the head of Lake Wakatipu. Cross the bridge to the start of the Lake Sylvan track and head into the bush in the direction of Sugar Loaf. Follow the ridge over Sugar Loaf to Sugar Loaf pass, descend the track, and bike back to the start. The bush is dense in places, but is nowhere difficult, and it is possible to follow animal tracks for much of the way. From the top of the bush (1100m), follow an easy goat track over Sugar Loaf Peak and on to P1285. The descent from there to the col requires care (but there is plenty of vegetation to hang onto). Climb through scrub to P1290, and continue along the easy ridge to Sugar Loaf pass.
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Bush 800m Bush 900m Bush 1100m Humboldt Mntns Pluto Double Barrel Creek
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Route Burn Valpys Pass Dart Lake Sylvan Sugar Loaf Peak Sugar Loaf Stream

Kowhai Creek to Scott Creek

The latest edition (2013) of Moir's Guide North describes a route from Kowhai Creek (near the end of the Routeburn road) over to Scott Creek. From the sign "Upper Kowhai no 2 bridge", head up in the untracked bush staying fairly close to the stream. There is bush lawyer lower down and scrub higher up in the bush. Above the bush there is steep scree, so this route is for determined trampers only.
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Bush Routeburn Routeburn Kowhai Creek From Sugar Loaf

Emily Pass; return by the Routeburn

Follow the Routeburn track to the (named) bridge across Emily creek (2 hours). Emily creek has two main branches, one of which ends in waterfalls. Follow the other one (true left) up slippery rocks. At the top, when the scree gets uncomfortably steep, look for cairns leading out to the left. Follow them (small track) into Emily basin. Cross a snow grass slope above a waterfall to reach the gulley leading to Emily pass (keep fairly high). Climb scree and rock in the gulley to reach steep snow grass slopes leading to the pass (3 hours). Descend straight down the Hollyford side (snow, then scree, then scrub). When the scrub gets dense, follow the creek. The start of the track around Lake Mackenzie is well marked (marker, two cairns) but, initially, it is badly overgrown (December 2014) (2.5 hours). Return by the Routeburn track.
It is possible to shorten the trip by starting from the Route Burn flats, or break it by camping in Emily Basin or at Lake McKenzie (reservations required for the latter).
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Somnus Earnslaw Unnamed Pk Emily Pass Lake Mackenzie Tutoko
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Somnus Earnslaw Somnus + Earnslaw Valley Emily Pass Darran Mountains

Glenorchy-Kinloch-Greenstone Road

Mount Alfred

On the Kinloch road, about 5km after turning off the Glenorchy-Paradise road, find a small car park on the right. Climb over the stile, and follow the track to the bushline (orange markers). Then climb a faint track up left to the ridge. Added December 2016. Track markers now go to the ridge. There are numerous tree falls on the track.
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Mt Alfred Mt Alfred track Mt Alfred track Bush line Pigeon Island Windmill
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From top Mount Somnus Beans Burn Mount Earnslaw From top

Via the south ridge

The ridge can be followed all the way from the road to the top of Mount Alfred. The bush is quite open and allows for good travelling. This route takes only about half-an-hour longer than the track (3 hours up). Start a little east of the ridge line to avoid the scrub, and then stay on the top of the ridge.
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Bush Mount Earnslaw Panorama from near the top of the bush

In winter

Crampons and iceaxe may be necessary. Probably the ridge is the best route.
Mount Earnslaw

Scott Creek

The track is an old stock trail, which hasn't been maintained. However, travel in the bush is quite good. From the Kinloch road, turn right onto the Routeburn road. The sign is about 3k from the turn off. Climb over two stiles, climb steeply to the first orange marker pole up the hill, and then follow a badly overgrown ground trail through scrub to the bush, where travel becomes easier. The track in the bush is well marked, except at one point near the top where there are cairns (December 2012).
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Dart From bush From bush North branch Upper peak

North Branch to P1736

Scott creek is a beautiful place, where it is worth spending time. The old musterer's hut has been removed, but there is good camping on both sides of the creek at track-end, and elsewhere. The upper part of the North Branch can be reached using goat trails on the obvious spur on the true left of the valley. Follow the valley up to the col at the head, and then scramble up rock and steepening scree to reach P1736 (3 hours).
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Camp Tarn South branch From P1736

South Branch to Scott Basin and above

Follow the true-right creek to the col at the head of the South Branch, if that is where you are going. Otherwise, climb out right, once the terrain permits this, to reach the south end of Scott Basin. From here there is good travelling on the true-left of the pinnacle P1552 to a "lunch spot" at about 1550m. From this point it is possible to descend to the Scott-Kay pass, or ascend to the snowy pass over to Death Valley.
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Scott Basin Down valley Outcrop Centaur
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Easy walking P1552 P1552 P2146

Glacier Burn

The track gives easy access to a remote-feeling alpine valley. Start at a well marked car park on the Kinloch road. Climb over stile, cross creek, put boots on. Pleasant track to bushline at 800m (was in good condition except for some tree falls November 2012; still there December 2014). It is possible to continue on easy ground to c1100m.
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South side Valley head South side Down valley
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Down valley Down valley Cairn Richardson range

To the Bryant glacier and a pass to the Caples

According Moir's Guide North (2013, p32) it is possible to continue on steeper ground to the Bryant glacier and a pass to the Caples. In early December 2014, I tried to crampon up the old avalanche snow to the Bryant glacier, but was prevented from reaching the glacier by the avalanche danger.
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Bonpland Richardson Mntns Dodgy slope Richardson Mntns P1653

Lake Rere

The Lake Rere loop starts at the Greenstone carpark (85 minutes drive from Queenstown; past Glenorchy and Kinloch). The route crosses farmland to Elfin Bay, and then is mainly in beech forest. It is very well sign posted.
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Greenstone River Mt Earnslaw Elfin Bay Lake Rere Lake Rere
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Ailsa Mountains Track Waterfall Tooth Peaks Caples Valley

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Copyright © 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 J.S. Milne.