The Foothills of the Alps

January 30, 2021
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To the West: The Ashburton Lakes(and Mountains)

In the Ashburton Lakes districtsouthwest of Christchurch, Mount Guy (1319 m/4,327 ft) and the chilly LakeClearwater (667 m/2,188 ft) are in the middle of a nexus of tracks, withseveral other lakes and peaks nearby, including Mount Harper/ Mahaanui which,in spite of being 1829 m or 6,001 feet high, is comparatively easy to ascend,and Mount Somers (1688 m / 5,538 ft) which is the location of a popular circuitwalk past craggy outcrops and old mine workings.

You can camp by the lakes, as I did recently, and spend yourtime doing several day-walks including the Mount Somers Circuit. This localityis also close to Erewhon, the setting of the English writer Samuel Butler’sfictional utopia Erewhon, but also an actual place.

See the DOC pages LakeClearwater tracks xxxx


Driving from Christchurch to LakeClearwater via the Inland Scenic Route, you can also stop off at:


·       Washpen Falls. This is a privately-ownedlocality on a private track through a scenic gorge. It’s very highly rated by‘glampers’, but basic access only costs NZ $10 for adults, on Theprivate website notes that Washpen Falls has featured as a Hollywood filminglocation.


To the North: The FoothillsForests and their Peaks.

To the north and northwest ofChristchurch, four joined-together forest parks called the Oxford, Glentui, MtThomas and Mt Grey/Maukatere Forest Parks form a ring partway around the city.Within the FoothillsForests, as they are called, several medium-sized mountains, thesefoothills of the Southern Alps look directly down on the city and the plains andalso into the interior, with summit tracks that range from easy to advanced:


·       Mount Grey/Maukatere. The 934 m (3,064ft) Mount Grey or Maukatere is not the highest peak in the area, but has theadvantage of being comparatively easy to ascend by way of one of the tracks tothe top. See the DOC page on ‘MountGrey/Maukatere tracks’.


·       Mount Oxford. (1364 m 4,475 ft). See theDOC page on ‘MountOxford tracks’.


·       Mount Thomas. (1023 m / 3,356 ft). Seethe DOC page on ‘MountThomas tracks’.


·       Mount Richardson. (1047 m / 3.435 ft).See the DOC page on ‘MountRichardson tracks’. These include the Glentui Loop Track partway up MountRichardson, itself the subject of a DOCwebpage.


The Foothills Forests also contain:


·       Ryde Falls. A five-tier waterfall on alengthy, but easy walking track. DOC webpage on RydeFalls tracks.



More resources:


FoothillsForests Brochure




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