Towering Above Coleridge – Peak Hill(1240m)

“On a Mish” #107 Towering Above Coleridge. Peak Hill(1240m). Peak Hill Conservation Area. 12.9.2013. I can really understand why the famous ‘Terrace Downs Resort’ is built where it is. After climbing over the foothills, near Windwhistle, the first straight section of road is pointing you directly at a dramatic mountainous landscape that burns an impression into the glorious views section of your brain. This is where the luxury resort is located, and it’s only the beginning of a very visually appealing area full of excellent opportunities for a mission. From short walks to multi-day trans-alpine outings the place has it all….

On several occasions I have ventured into one of the numerous large valleys in the area and returned with a tale to tell. As you, the lucky adventurer, travel further west from the resort you encounter a strange group of small rolling hills and alpine lakes. This large lumpy area is just before you reach the bigger peaks of the Southern Alps, and one of the most dominant ‘hills’ in this area is Peak Hill(1240m). Peak Hill(1240m) has a commanding position in the wide valley, as it not only has outstanding views of the massive Rakaia and Wilberforce Valleys, but also looks down on the biggest lake in the area, Lake Coleridge. After seeing all of this on a map I decided it was time for me to tackle the challenge of Peak Hill(1240m).

After leaving the Canterbury Plains behind me I weaved my way around the Rakaia Gorge before passing Terrace Downs and getting my first view of the Peak which is a hill. The track took me across farmland, which I remember being very muddy due to the recent rain, and past the very lucky cows that have a brilliant place to call home. After crossing the farm paddocks, the track began to climb the south face, and then after a few zig-zags I got onto the wide and easy east ridge. From here the route is very exposed to the wind, a wind that is legendary in this area. They don’t call it Windwhistle for nothing!

So this is where you hope your forecast for light wind is correct or you might be blown all the way back to Christchurch! A final push took me to the top and once there I realised why someone blazed a track up the side of Peak Hill(1240m). From the summit the view up the vast braided expanses of the mighty Rakaia is hard to beat, and I couldn’t have asked for a better day to be on top of the hill / peak. It is possible to make the mish a loop by travelling down the west ridge and this is exactly what I did, and the views down the western side of the mountain were just as jaw-dropping.

At the base of the mountain the track U-turns back east along the base of the south face, and back into the farmlands for another muddy encounter. After the bog I followed fence lines back to the roadside car park and the end of my excellent wander. Peak Hill(1240m) is an excellent day out that I highly recommend… As long as you get the weather forecast right, if not you will really find out why they call it Windwhistle!

Looking south east from the summit of Peak Hill(1240m)

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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