Mt Armstrong, Aspiring National Park / Moderate
For North Island townies like me, one of the biggest challenges in any climb in the Southern Alps is just getting there in time for a period of settled weather. So a climb of Mt Armstrong, 2174m, a little over 700m above the easily accessible Brewster Hut (12 bunks), is a good option when time is the limiting factor. For those who have the climbing experience, the more challenging option to climb nearby Mt Brewster is also there.
From your home, you can fly to Queenstown, pick up a rental car, pop to the supermarket for supplies, drive to Fantail Falls car park and ascend to the hut, or even on to the top of Mount Armstrong, in a day.
Whichever objectives you choose, you’ll be rewarded with magnificent alpine vistas. From the comfort of Brewster Hut you can admire a glowing Mt Brewster at sunset, looming overhead less than 4km as the kea flies, to the north-east. To the west, across the Haast Valley, is a mountain wall extending nearly 1.5km from the valley floor. And the higher you get above the hut, the better the views become.
– Peter Laurenson
Access: Fantail Falls car park, off SH6
Grade: Moderate. In summer Mt Armstrong is just a scramble, but in winter ice axe and crampons are required
Time: Car park to Brewster Hut, 2-4hr; Brewster Hut to Mt Armstrong, 3hr