Hiking in the Silver Peaks Scenic Reserve is one of the best things to do in Dunedin for lovers of the outdoors. You’ll get heaps of wide-ranging views, from the coastlines north and south of Dunedin to the Taieri Plains and beyond. I’ll show you how to make the most of a trip to the Silver Peaks, including what I believe is the best option for a day hike.
The Silver Peaks Scenic Reserve is located just past Waitati on the road north from Dunedin. You’ll pass by the turnoff when driving between Dunedin and Oamaru (Double Hill Road, which eventually becomes Mountain Road). Keep following that and you’ll eventually reach the car park. Hopefully there’ll be other cars there – I didn’t see an obvious sign when driving but the cars were evidence enough. You’ll get some nice views of Warrington Beach and Blueskin Bay from to the road, and while it’s gravel and a bit rough it shouldn’t give you too many problems.
Hiking in the Silver Peaks Scenic Reserve
We started our hike from the car park on Mountain Road and were soon hiking uphill through the forest. There isn’t much to see on the first part of the track, but you’ll get the occasional glimpse of the surrounding scenery. You’ll soon see a turnoff to Swampy Summit (close to the Pineapple Track), but keep heading up towards Jubilee Hut if you want to follow this route.
Above the Treeline
After a steady climb you’ll eventually trade the forest track for exposed exposed ridges. The views really start to open up at this point and they don’t soon stop. You can see down emerald green valleys, rocky summits and the blue expanse of the Pacific Ocean.
The track in this part is exposed and it gets pretty windy – make sure to check the weather before going as it can change quickly (more on that later though). The views keep getting better the further you go up. I found a little detour track that took me to a little rocky hill, and from there it was a short walk to Pulpit Rock.
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Pulpit Rock is one of the main features on this track but it didn’t even have a sign. We didn’t know what it looked like so were a little confused as to whether we’d found it, but later photo searches proved that it was in fact Pulpit Rock. Apparently you can climb it but we didn’t see a route. If you’re feeling tired you could turn back at Pulpit Rock, but a little more effort will reap great rewards.
From Pulpit Rock you’ll walk downhill for a few minutes before coming to a short climb up what appears to be the highest point in the area. You can see this summit from quite a distance, and it’d be hard to miss (you can see the track going up). As this is one of the highest points on the track it makes for the perfect endpoint to this Silver Peaks day hike. You could continue to Jubilee Hut, but it’s further downhill, meaning you’ll have to walk all the way back up. I reckon the views wouldn’t be as good either.
At the top there’s a little side track that takes you to a viewpoint overlooking some rocky mountains. This is one of the best views in the Silver Peaks – it reminded me a bit of some of the viewpoints at Roys Peak and Ben Lomond (without the snow-capped mountains).
From that point you can continue to Jubilee Hut and beyond or head back to the car park. Like I said before, I can’t imagine the views get too much better but if you’re looking for a full day hike or want to stay the night in Jubilee Hut it could be worth looking into. For most though, the route I’ve explained here will be more than good enough. On the way back down (or up) you should stop off at the big rock shown below (you’ll see a little track leading to it).
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Silver Peaks FAQs
- Is the walk hard? There’s quite a bit of uphill hiking involved but it’s mostly a steady climb. The track is muddy in parts, so you’ll want to wear hiking boots if you’ve got them.
- How long does it take? It took us just under five hours to do this hike, but we stopped at the top for well over half an hour and did a few little detours (and took heaps of photos). We also saw people running up, so it could be a good option if you’re trying to build up some fitness.
- What about the Weather? The Silver Peaks has been the scene for a few rescue operations over the years. Cloud and fog can roll in and the weather can change very quickly. It’s straightforward when the weather is good but I can see how it’d be easy to get lost in poor conditions. Make sure to check the weather before you go and only head out if the forecast is good.
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