Where we live we are lucky we have multiple day hiking options close by many of which are suitable for families. As a family we have a few favorite day hikes and occasionally we like to mix it up. At the moment the deciding factor of where we hike at the weekends is based around the family dog and allowable accessibility. As many trails or areas can cross private land (specifically high country farms) dogs are not allowed and as she enjoys her hiking jaunts as much as we do then it seems a little unfair to leave a family member at home.
One of our recent day hikes was up Coronet Peak a popular winter playground in our area for skiers and snowboarders. Once winter declares itself finished and the snow base melts it leaves a playground that is popular over the summer months with walkers and mountain bikers.
This particular Sunday we headed to the base building (1200m) and our aim was to reach the weather station at the summit (1650m) and have a picnic lunch. There are some main trails carved into the side of the mountain to allow maintenance access up during both summer and winter whilst giving the snowsports beginner an easy gradient to come down and practice their skills. The M1 is the main road up so to speak.
Armed with one of BB’s friends (we always try and take 1 each of our kids friends along to join us ) we decided that instead of taking the easy way up on a formed trail we would head straight up following the main chairlift and bush-bash through the tussocks and terrain. Another reason to do it this way made it fun for the kids as we told them to keep an eye out for things that may have been dropped off the chairlift during winter – a treasure hunt as such. As it was we found multiple single gloves, lots of empty beer bottles( from night skiing?? ), a ski pole and a chocolate bar. As we always carry an empty bag with us we collected any rubbish we found as we walked up. KK got the score of the day by finding $4 in loose change on the ground.
It took us around 1.5 hours to reach the summit where we had an impressive 360 degree view of the Wakatipu Basin. Pre-xmas each year myself and a couple of biking friends ride to the summit where we celebrate with a couple of beers, solve the worlds problems then ride down a well formed XC trail. I was able to show Noelle where we sit so she now fully understands this biking ritual that I partake in.
We had brought a picnic lunch and whilst eating, drank in the scenery of the wider Queenstown area and then turning 180 degrees looked in awe of the golden backcountry vistas that looked deep into Skippers Canyon and beyond.
After lunch we headed behind the summit along a reasonably well formed track that takes you into the area known as the back bowls, a steep decent into a valley where the only way out is back up the way you came in. Awesome snowboarding during Winter. We tracked along the ridge until we came to a large rock outcrop which stood solitary above the high country and offered views down towards Macetown, The Macetown Road, Bush Creek and Arrowtown. An option is to continue along and down the ridge and onto the Macetown road ( Topomap CB11 – give a great overview of the area ) but the day was starting to get on so we headed back.
The boys were very keen to traverse across to …. but we took the easy way down on the formed trail and reached the base building after sliding down a few remaining snow drifts that rest in the shaded areas of the mountain.
For a reasonably easy half day hike the base to summit is ideal with a basic level of fitness needed. Take your time and enjoy the magnificent views, take plenty of stops and have a few snacks for the kids to keep them energized and engaged.
After a hike the reward for us is a well deserved ice cream…..something the kids (and Striker the dog ) look forward to.
Summers almost here so check out some other great walks in the area.