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Advice needed Day hiking / tramping NZ in winter

Discussion in 'New Zealand' started by Snowdayyy, Apr 11, 2018.

  1. Snowdayyy

    Snowdayyy Hard Yards

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    Going to be in Wanaka and Queenstown in the heart of winter (Mid August this year) and wanted to do a couple of one day hikes while I'm there. So far I've looked online and people say the viability depends on the avalanche conditions and what the department of conservation (doc) advises on the weather conditions closer to the day itself.

    But I was wondering what it's like to do a trail in winter? Assuming good visibility could I do one of those day hikes that it says takes 1.5 hours or 4-6 hours to do?

    https://www.newzealand.com/au/queenstown+walking-and-hiking/

    https://www.newzealand.com/au/lake-wanaka+walking-and-hiking/

    Also if I'm hiking for a coupla hours in the snow will I need to buy specialised shoes or are snowboarding shoes okay?
     
  2. Legs Akimbo

    Legs Akimbo Grumblebum Ski Pass: Gold

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    Both Queenstown and Wanaka are below the permanent winter snowline. I don't know any of those walks, but (absent a low snowfall) they are probably not walks in the snow.
     
  3. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    @Ziggy knows a few nice day walks. Rob Roy Glacier isn't a bad walk.... drive down past the TC turn off (quite a long way past)
     
  4. xuěboarder

    xuěboarder One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Depends what you want
    Easiest: Moke Lake is a nice circuit around the lake with great views
    Queenstown time hill is an easy 4h return trip. They may be patches of snow at the top but nothing too major
    Medium: Ben Lomond Saddle is a great medium distance hike. You can start it from town at the pump house, or take the easy way and start from the top of the gondola. Rarely snow on the saddle unless middle of winter or after an event.
    Hard: Ben Lomond summit is a great day hike of around 8h, 16km if done from town. I completed it in September and had areas from about a third of the way up the summit up to thigh deep snow. I did it in waterproof only, no special shoes. I wouldn't recommend doing it in snowboarding boots. Its a relatively safe hike AV wise, bit ensure you speak with DOC in Queenstown to get the latest conditions. They will blatantly tell you if it's not safe without proper gear. If you do summit, ensure you stay on the approach side of the summit, as the Queenstown side has steep, unstable edges during winter
    I don't have much experience in Wanaka aside from Roys Peak. Possibly the best views I have ever seen from a mountain, would recommend doing it pre dawn and summit for the sunrise if you're up to it. Its a short, steep hike and the summit will likely have patches of snow.

    Otherwise if you have time I'd recommend going up to the Mt Cook area. Hooker valley is phenomenal and a very easy and safe walk. The area also is home to my personal favourite hike, Muellers Hut. This is quite a grueling day hike that can be done overnight in the hike. This would be a extremely difficult, high risk hike in winter so be sure to come prepared and speak to doc before departing
    Sorry for long reply, hope it helps
     
  5. Snowdayyy

    Snowdayyy Hard Yards

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    Really excellent reply, thanks mate!

    I'm definitely not up for something challenging like Mt Cook, only because I'll be too scared doing something that challenging solo and I'm not an experienced hiker. For that reason I probably won't leave before sunrise either, even tho I'm all up for waking up early to see the dawn

    I stumbled upon this article and it's got me pretty cautious: Woman survives month in New Zealand mountains after partner died on hike on Routebourn track in South Island - https://www.theguardian.com/world/2...-zealand-mountains-after-partner-died-on-hike

    Moke Lake sounds nice, so does Queenstown time hill and Ben Lomond Saddle. If I'm feeling brave I could try the Ben Lomond Summit as well!

    As for Wanaka I reckon I might go kayaking there!

     
  6. xuěboarder

    xuěboarder One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yeah the great walks are all multi day, and most are very difficult and even closed over the winter period.
    I would definitely recommend the saddle, as you still get some great views from the seat there, as well as likely some smaller snow patches. Make sure you do it from the pumphouse, not the gondola as the walk through the pine forest to bob's peak is really nice. As for the summit, I do think you could do it as an inexperienced hiker, as I ran into several groups when I did it who had little to no hiking experience. Just make sure you have the usual safety precautions, namely tell someone / leave a note when you go, speak to the DOC before (can't emphasise how important this is) and if at anytime you don't feel comfortable, turn back.

    Please take into account your time of visitation, as I have completed all these hikes in September or later when the lower down snowpack is usually not as deep and a lot more stable.
     
    Snowdayyy likes this.
  7. Draizuh

    Draizuh One of Us

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    None of those hikes are particularly difficult, and unlikely to be closed due to snow.
    As stated previously the Ben Lomond summit is in the alpine (100m higher than the summit of Coronet Peak) and i wouldnt advise it in mid winter if you dont have alpine experience. You might be able to see downtown Queenstown from the entire track but that doesnt mean its in anyway safe, Weather can roll in without warning and you can be stuck in whiteout with 1m of vis. Not a great time.

    If you are fit the routeburn is totally doable in a day but during winter most of the huts are either closed or absolute bare minimum shelters. The area from Routeburn Falls to the divide crosses around 50 avalanche start zones and isnt advisable in winter.
     
  8. Red_switch

    Red_switch Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: 30 Day

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    Roys Peak is a cess pit.
     
  9. Ziggy

    Ziggy A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Roys Peak has some great views as Kenziepettit said. The pics below were taken late in a poor ski season.
    The Peak is c.1400 m altitude above the road.

     
    piolet, Majikthise and xuěboarder like this.
  10. Draizuh

    Draizuh One of Us

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    Of trail runners and instafamous people?