Tag Archives: West Coast

Mt Tyndall

Abel #112;1179m

We were still camped by Lake Rosebery and it had been raining on and off for most of the night, showing no signs of stopping.  After flicking through The Abels Vol 2. we were keen to do a longer walk in the area, but decided against it due to the lack of visibility and the likelihood of spending half a day wet and cold.  Having done Murchison the previous day, we were left with climbing Tyndall or driving down to Queenstown and summiting Jukes or Owen.  I had always been interested in doing the Tyndall Range and so we decided to go and check out the first part of it.

The road by the highway leads to a locked boom gate, but has room for a number of cars.  Follow the road past the boom gate and continue across a bridge before reaching a road on the left that follows the powerlines.  Continue along this road for a few hundred meters and you will reach the registration box.  The start of the track follows a boggy, overgrown section that makes its way up towards the short section of forest, where the climb begins and is pretty relentless until you reach the Tyndall Plateau.  A number of small creeks are passed along the way, as well as large conglomerate boulders that provide a good place to stop and catch your breath.

Once we reached the plateau we turned north and followed a faint pad up towards the summit.  The visibility was low and there was no distinct summit, so we walked to what we thought was the highest point and had a quick bite to eat.  The wind was blowing the low lying cloud up and over the cliffs on the north eastern of the summit; before long, we started to get cold and decided to head back down to the car.

Even in poor visibility it was clear that this is a very beautiful mountain range with excellent camping, and I am looking forward to getting back here for a few days.  The way back down was much quicker and we reached the car in 1 hour and 20 minutes, unfortunately I had left the lights on and we had to spend almost 2 hours sitting in the car waiting for a friend to come and give us a jump.

All up 7kms in 3hours and 10 minutes with 696m ascent.

Getting there: Coming from Queenstown, follow the Zeehan Highway (A10) until you reach Anthony Road on you right.  Follow Anthony road for 10.8kms and you will see a dirt road on the right hand side with a pile a tyres.  Note that this road is a few hundred meters before you drive over Tyndall Creek.

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GPS track.
A small creek to cross on the powerlines track.
Emily heading uphill after leaving the scrub.
Lots of water coming down.
The north eastern cliffs under cloud.
Starting to feel the cold.

Mt Murchison

Abel #73; 1275m

We were camping with a group of friends on the shores of Lake Rosebery and managed to convince them to head up to Mt Murchison with us.  In hindsight, it was probably not the best walk for those with very little bushwalking experience-not to mention with a fear of heights.  We left our campsite and drove a short distance to the start of the track.

The well cleared track starts off by climbing up through teatree forests, before the bush thins out and reveals the glaciated cliffs and small lakes that occupy the main ‘bowl’.  The track then continues along a ridge before climbing steeply to the north.  Unfortunately we had to leave one of our friends before the steepest section, as she did not think she could make it back down due to a fear of heights. Luckily, the skies were clear and the view towards the east was very easy on the eyes.

A couple of small creeks and nearby tarns are passed on the way up and would be an excellent place to camp; however, some sections of this track are pretty exposed and would require extra care in adverse weather.  The trig can be seen a few hundred meters away after climbing up through a small rocky chute and requires you to drop back down on the western side of the ridge before following a large rock slab straight up to the top.

All up 6.3kms in 4 hours and 25 minutes with plenty of breaks for those less experienced and 774m ascent.

Getting there: Drive along Anthony Road  and you will see a sign indicating  start of the track.  There is a sign on on both sides of the road and there are a number of spots for cars to pull over.  The start of the track is closer to the Tullah end of the road and about a 10 minute drive from the town centre.

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GPS track.
Climbing up one of the steeper sections.
Conglomerate rocks and Eldon Peak.
Looking down into the ‘bowl’ from near the summit.
Heading back down the more exposed section.
Interesting rocks.
Blue skies and green fagus.

Smoothwater Bay and Lake Ellery

Having spent a night in the mountains at 1465m, we decided to head back down towards the coast. We stopped at one of the local outdoor stores in Wanaka and got chatting with the owners, mentioning to them that we were heading west. They were happy to share some good walking tracks in the Jackson Bay area; they also warned us of the sand flies and managed to sell Emily a very flattering mesh headnet.

After driving for a couple of hours though the impressive Haast Pass, we reached the coast and headed south towards Jackson Bay.  We had decided to camp somewhere along the Jackson River and found a pretty nice spot about 10 minutes along the Jackson River Road.  The sunset that night was pretty spectacular, but the thousands of sandflies were a good enough reason to stay in the van, which was home to only a few hundred…if ever in the area, some tips to avoid bites are to cover up and use insect repellant. Additionally, avoid dark clothing as sandflies are attracted to it-as we didn’t know any of this at the time, Emily suffered countless bites all over her legs.

The next morning we were up early and heading back down the road to the start of the Lake Ellery walk.  This is only a very short walk (2.9km return), but follows a nice track through the forest up to the lake and seems to be a pretty good spot for trout fishing.  We then rejoined the Haast-Jackson Bay Rd and followed it almost to the end.

The start of the Smoothwater Bay track is sign posted next to the highway and has a number of car carparking spots on the opposite side of the road.  The track initially climbs through thick forest before dropping back down along the bank of a small creek.  After about an hour you will reach a small creek that needs to be traversed and 5 minutes later you will reach the Smoothwater Bay River.  Take a right to continue down along the banks of the river and out to Smoothwater Bay. We then made our way back to the car and to a small fish and chip shop in Jackson Called called The Cray Pot which is highly recommended.

All up: Lake Ellery – 2.9kms in 50 minutes

Smoothwater Bay – 9.4kms in 2:40.


Sunset by the Jackson River.
Lake Ellery.
Interesting trees on the Lake Ellery walk.
Looking north from the Haast-Jackson Bay Rd.
Heading down towards Smoothwater Bay River.
Interesting Flora.
Smoothwater Bay River.
Admiring the trees by the river.
Not used to seeing ferns by the beach.
Smooth Water Bay.
Our Reward. 10/10