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The Wilderness 100: The 7 best trips in Canterbury

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May 2020 Issue

Looking for a new challenge this year (or for the remainder of your life)? How about ticking off the Wilderness 100?


Welcome to the inaugural Wilderness 100 – an annual list of the best trips in the country. For the website version of this feature story, we’ve broken the trips down into regions and linked to those trips we’ve got route notes and maps for. 

So, without further ado, here are the best trips in Canterbury

1. St James Walkway, Canterbury

Winding its way gently through the Canterbury hills, the St James Walkway is a reminder that you don’t need to bust your guts hiking eight hour days to enjoy the backcountry. This family-friendly multi-day trip takes in the St James Conservation Area and the Lewis Pass National Reserve. 

2. Beuzenberg Peak, Te Kahui Kaupeka Conservation Park

To reach Beuzenberg Peak, you first climb to Stag Saddle – at 1925m the highest point on the Te Araroa Trail. While you can enjoy expansive views to Aoraki/Mt Cook from the summit, the real highlight is the return descent along ‘Snake Ridge’ – a sinuous ridge leading to the turquoise waters of Lake Tekapo. It’s best to make this an overnighter, staying at Camp Stream Hut. DOWNLOAD

3. Mt Somers Track, Hakatere Conservation Park

Sick of Canterbury greywacke? Tramp the circuit around this old volcano, and make a side trip to the summit of Mt Somers with its expansive views of the Southern Alps. The circuit takes 2-3 days, with nights at Woolshed and Pinnacles huts. DOWNLOAD

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Packhorse Hut. Photo: Jon Sullivan/Flickr

4. Packhorse Hut, Banks Peninsula

Packhorse Hut was the vision of pioneering conservationist Harry Ell. Built in 1916, the stone hut makes an ideal overnight destination for families. DOWNLOAD

5. Mt Tapuae-o-Uenuku, Tapuae-O-Uenuku Scenic Reserve

At 2885m, <t Tapuae-o-Uenuku, or Tappy, is the highest mountain north of Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park and is accessible in summer by trampers with basic ice axe and crampon skills. The summit offers unimpeded 360-degree views that are hard to beat. DOWNLOAD

6. Mt Wakefield, Aoraki/Mt Cook

While the easy-going hordes head to Mueller Hut, a more difficult trip up Mt Wakefield (2058m) awaits those with the right fitness and experience. Over nearly 6km, the route climbs nearly 1500m to one of the best views of Aoraki/Mt Cook’s southern face. DOWNLOAD

7. Mueller Hut, Aoraki Mt Cook National Park

A grand alpine location with some of the best views of Mts Sefton and Aoraki/Mt Cook is just one reason to visit, but Mueller Hut also offers the opportunity to bag nearby Mt Ollivier (1933m) – Ed Hillary’s first summit. DOWNLOAD