Lake Coleridge / Rakaia Gorge

Hiking the Peak Hill Track, Lake Coleridge

The Peak Hill Track takes you high above a glacier carved valley for some of the best mountain views you’ll see this close to Christchurch (or anywhere in the Southern Alps). You’ll see the braided Rakaia River, glimmering Lake Coleridge and a succession of snow-capped mountains.

Hiking the Peak Hill Track

We started hiking the Peak Hill Track just before 9 am (in September) and there were only two other cars in the car park. We had the first part of the trail all to ourselves — it would have been peaceful if we weren’t walking directly uphill in howling wind! We stopped often to admire the views behind us, which included the western end of Lake Coleridge and the Rakaia River flowing towards the Canterbury plains.

After around an hour we reached a ridge and figured we were getting close to the top. We weren’t, but the views were getting better and better.

The track is fairly easy to follow (look for the orange poles) but it’s one of those frustrating tracks that looks like it’s about to end, only to get to what you thought was the summit and see another peak above it.

It was easy enough though, and two hours after we started, we were standing on the top of Peak Hill looking out to some incredible views. The braided Rakaia River is a highlight (check out the Rakaia Gorge Walkway for another angle) and Lake Coleridge, surrounded by snow-capped mountains, looks amazing from above.

This whole area was once a glacier and it’s awesome to see it all from such a perfect vantage point. The Peak Hill Track is very underrated — if you live near Christchurch, or ever find yourself nearby (it’s also close to Arthur’s Pass) I highly recommend hiking this track!

Peak Hill Track Tips

  • Go early: We got back to our car at around midday and passed quite a few people hiking up. If you prefer to enjoy this kind of place in solitude it’s a good idea to start early (and, in summer, it’d be hot hiking up there in the middle of the day).
  • Wear warm clothes: Lake Coleridge is a notoriously windy place and those winds can rip right through you if you’re not prepared! Even on a sunny day in September it was bitterly cold at the top.

  • Take your time: The Peak Hill Track is steep in parts and is almost entirely uphill. It took us two hours to reach the top and around an hour to get back down. It’d be quite challenging if you’re not used to hikes like this, and the way down poses its own trials. Wear good shoes and make sure of your footing!

Getting There

The Peak Hill Track is on Algidus Road. It’s a short drive from Lake Coleridge Village or 50 minutes from Methven (take the turnoff near Windwhistle). You’ll also find the Rakaia Gorge Walkway nearby — it’s a great option if you’re looking for something a little less uphill. If coming from Arthur’s Pass you can drive from Lake Lyndon (Lyndon Road) which is a pretty scenic option.

Do you love views of New Zealand mountains? Check out our post about the Southern Alps – it’ll show you some of the best South Island mountain viewpoints and hikes!

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Jon Algie

A travel blogger from New Zealand who has just returned home after 6 years abroad. Join me as I see as much of the South Island as I can.

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