A rival to Roys Peak
Epic 360 degree views at peak hill walk in canterbury
Peak Hill Walk, Canterbury
Even though I am travelling around my home country, there are times when I’m just absolutely blown away. I don’t know whether it was because I didn’t quite know what I was expecting to see, or whether the hard slog made it that much more satisfying. But this was one of these times I literally had to pinch myself to see if it was true. (skip straight to the bottom of the page if you only want practical advice for this walk)
I have never stood on a peak like this and seen such epic 360 degree views. Maybe it was a combination of the perfect day and my strong desire to see something new, but I really think this has to be seen to be believed. Annoyingly, my photos just don’t do it justice
Rival to Roys Peak: Amazing views, less time, no tourists
So where are you saying is this rival to Roys Peak? Now many of you have seen those quintessential Wanaka views. It’s at the top of my NZ Bucket List too, but I haven’t wanted to hike straight up a hill for 5-6 hours straight with my children (I have no idea why…) But when I got to the first peak, I took a step back and it just reminded me of it.
How to get to the Peak Hill hike
So let me get back to the beginning. Peak Hill is a bit over 90 minutes from Christchurch Airport and is in the Lake Coleridge Area. It’s an easy drive, and if you are coming up from the South, definitely head over the Rakaia Gorge bridge – that area is really pretty and a great picnic spot. The last 6-7 km are along a gravel road and you will find Peak Hill on your right next to a small hedge of trees. Do look out for it as I almost drove past.
A few tips for hiking Peak Hill
One thing to note is that there is no shade or shelter along this track. AT ALL! I took Emilia who is only 5 months old and there wasn’t anywhere to hide behind a rock or tree and feed her out of the sun. I did take a blackout muslin cloth and hid us both underneath that while I fed her which seemed to do the trick. But it is extremely exposed. We were really lucky as it wasn’t windy on the way up, but it was starting to pick up on the way down, and it was getting really strong. So keep this in mind.
Where you park your car at the bottom there is a shelter belt of trees. We arrived around 11 and there was so shade there then. So I would say this is a great time to have some lunch and get prepared out of the sun (if you are going in the heat of course)
What is the Peak Hill track like?
2 hours up
The track map said it would take 2 hours to reach the summit and they were bang on! I stopped a number of times to take photos, and I really plodded along up the track, so it was a great estimation of time
Jump over the fence into the paddock (yes there are likely to be sheep roaming there) and then head straight up the fenceline to the top of the first peak. There are orange markers along the way so you don’t get lost.
If you are thinking, that perhaps this is going to be a bit tough… I totally hear you. But after I walked only 15-20 minutes from the start, there were already majestic views. So if you were in the area and didn’t want a hard trek, you could easily take kids of any age up this far and get a great view over the valley.
The actual track is cut into the hill and does have some gravel so it is less slippery. It is straight up the hill and it was strenuous. It’s totally doable if you are happy to just go slowly and stop if you need a rest, but I wouldn’t’ take my 3 and 5 year old unless we were happy to carry them at least a good part of the way.
Panoramas at the first peak
The first peak, which reminded me of Roys Peak, is a wonderful panorama of Lake Coleridge. I really wished this was the top and if there was a sign to say it was, I would have been totally satisfied. It’s a magnificent view and took just 1 hour from the starting fence. If your kids managed to make it this far, you could head back down completely happy.
I was knackered, but the day was perfect. Warm and sunny, no wind. But there was no summit marker – ugh! It totally wasn’t the top. So I headed across the ridgeline (which I really loved) and then I saw it, another huge hill and I knew that had to be it.
I was a little hesitant as it looked like I was having to walk up a goat path and it didn’t look hugely safe. But the rest of the track up was just the same as before. And while may have looked a little steeper, was actually no harder. Also knowing that we were close to the top made it easier I am sure.
Reaching the Summit of Peak Hill
And then….. 1 hour and 55 minutes after departure…. We made it! Not only could you see how big and spreadout Lake Coleridge was… (who would have thought?) but you could see the snow capped Southern Alps (NZs largest mountain range) You could see the expanse of the Rakaia Gorge and river, beautiful farmlands, mountain and lakes. Could you even ask for more? OHHHH that sort of stuff just fills my heart with delight. And after some tired trying times with my favourite little humans lately… it was just what I needed to refresh my soul.
How did the baby cope?
So what about Emilia? Yes, my little 5 month old slept practically the whole way up, had a wee feed and a play at the top and chatted and look around the whole way down. She was just perfect! I had my phone with a bit of white noise on for her to help her sleep, as she uses it at home (thank you routine sleep cues) and we were away laughing. AND she had a 30 minute nap on the way home!
Calf ache on the way down Peak Hill. Be warned!
I found the way down a relief for my quads, but painful on my calves.. And my wee toes as they jammed their way into the front of my boots. Just a reminder to me that it is steep. And that last “goat path” that we came up… did look a hell of a lot steeper on the way down, so do just be careful. You don’t want to fall off the mountain so to speak.
Also if you are using a baby carrier, as I did with Emilia, if you are using a front pack, be aware they do block your vision heading downhill, so please be careful!
Seriously… still buzzing!
As you can probably tell, I am still absolutely buzzing from the trip. I don’t want to do it again in a hurry (my muscles are still aching) but easily one of the best and most satisfying views that I’ve seen!
So tell me… where have you been that makes you all buzzy, even now? Come share with me on Instagram. I’d love to hear about it. Have you done Roys Peak? Do you think Peak Hill is a good rival to Roys Peak? Let me know!