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South Island Day Hikes

Houston
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South Island Day Hikes

We are in the beginning stages of planning a trip to the south island for November. This will be our first time to NZ, so we'll want to hit some of the popular tourist destinations, but also want to do some hiking. The great walks look fantastic; however, since we will only be there about 10 days, time will not allow. So, we are looking for a day hike somewhere, preferably a loop that would take 4-8 hours to complete. Looking for awe-inspring views, but needs to be somewhat convenient to one of our stops (yet to be determined). We will have a car.

Thanks!

Danielle

Christchurch, New...
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for Zhuhai, Christchurch, South Island
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1. Re: South Island Day Hikes

It would help if we had an idea of your itinerary. Abel Tasman offers great opportunities for day hikes, with access by water taxi. If you are driving into Milford Sound there is the Key Summit walk, on the Routeburn, or from Glenorchy you can walk in to the Routeburn Falls Hut & back. At Aoraki/Mt Cook there are a number of walks, mostly there-and-back. Mueller Hut would fit your full day plan, with Sealy Tarns a bit shorter but on the same route.

If you are going to the Glaciers there is Roberts Point, which gives great views of Franz Josef Glacier.

California
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2. Re: South Island Day Hikes

Pretty much any place you go will have a variety of hiking tracks. Once you get your routing, we can suggest something for you. And just to give you an idea how many places and routes there are to hike, here's a map for you:

http://nzwalksinfo.co.nz

Nelson-Tasman...
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3. Re: South Island Day Hikes

NZ is an outdoor adventure place. Day walks in every place and most well worth it. Do your iternary and find a walk. My top suggestions would be Fiordland, Mt Cook, Akaroa, Queen Charlotte Sound, karamea on the west coast has absolutely delightful walks such as charming creek, heaphy, oparara arches. But there are suitable walks throughout NZ and in almost every town and city!

San Antonio, Texas
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4. Re: South Island Day Hikes

I have to disagree with zhuhai's recommendation of the hike to Routeburn Falls Hut from Routeburn Shelter (near Glenorchy, which is near Queenstown). It's part of a really nice dayhike, but the big payoff for the hike comes from continuing past Routeburn Falls Hut and to Harris Saddle. The entire alpine section of the hike starts about 5-10 minutes after passing Routeburn Falls Hut, and that is where the scenery really picks up. The dayhike from Routeburn Shelter to Harris Saddle can be split up into three main sections:

Part 1 - Routeburn Shelter to Routeburn Flats Hut

Lots of beautiful blue water, some nice rainforest, and some decent wildlife. Nice view of the valley when you get to Routeburn Flats Hut.

Part 2 - Routeburn Flats Hut to Routeburn Falls Hut

Almost viewless for most of the hike, except for a really pretty view of a small peak across the valley from an area where a large landslide wiped out all the trees the block your view the rest of this section. The falls are nice, but turning around and heading back from there is lunacy.

Part 3 - Routeburn Falls to Harris Saddle

This is the real highlight of the dayhike. You hike a somewhat steep section to walk up by the side of the falls, and the second you get to the top it's just wide open alpine views the entire way. A couple of really interesting huge boulders, great snowcapped views of nearby peaks, no trees whatsoever to block views, and a lot of it is even really flat. Continue on and you get to walk right above the spectacular Lake Harris, which looks amazing with November snow.

Check this video from Bear Grylls that shows quite a bit of footage from the section between Routeburn Shelter and Harris Saddle:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJheoLUtX_Q

One note of caution though: in November you might not be able to safely go off trail and scramble up and onto ridges like Bear does in the video, due to avalanche danger. It would have been exceedingly dangerous to do it when I was hiking this last November (I even witnessed an avalanche happening there).

You're probably looking at 8-12 hours (think it took me about 9.5 or so) to do the entire dayhike to Harris Saddle and back, but the low elevation (and corresponding thick air) make this not too bad as long as you get an early start.

Edited: 16 April 2013, 21:52
San Antonio, Texas
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5. Re: South Island Day Hikes

Temple Basin Ski Field is a great dayhike if you end up in Arthur's Pass. It's quite steep, but short enough to still be easily doable in 4 hours. The entire thing is above treeline and there are wide open views the entire way. Nice safe and fun scrambling above the ski hut too if it's not too snowy. Has a couple of nice waterfalls and a cirque behind the ski hut looks amazing with snow on it (which probably isn't too unlikely in the November spring).

Don't know how it compares to a lot of the other hikes the kiwis here have suggested, but I found it to be a lot of fun.

Edited: 16 April 2013, 22:03
San Antonio, Texas
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6. Re: South Island Day Hikes

Forgot to mention another thing that makes that section Routeburn easier than it sounds when I say 8-12 hours: there is running water everywhere, so no need to carry more than a liter or so of it at a time. That's always a big plus to me, since at 2 pounds per liter I can always notice it when I have 4-5 liters in my backpack for a long dayhike.

Edited: 16 April 2013, 22:08
Nelson-Tasman...
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7. Re: South Island Day Hikes

I agree with spursfan. To do a .routeburn out and back to Summit or hut would be a disappointment really. The attraction there is the whole track. The middle parts are the most interesting, amazing, scenic and satisfying. But there are heaps of other walks in the area. Personally I way prefer loop tracks to out and back. Heaps of them available just pick your area.

Houston
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8. Re: South Island Day Hikes

Wow, thanks so much for all of this great information! Appreciated! Definitely gives me a place to start when developing our itinerary.

9. Re: South Island Day Hikes

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