Mount Guy and Lake Clearwater

Lake Clearwater camp Ashburton hakatere

Hakatere Conservation Park – Mount Guy

The Hakatere Conservation Park is a beautiful area of Canterbury, a couple of hours drive inland from Christchurch. Situated between two mighty rivers, the Rakaia and Rangitata, you’ll find a little bit of everything. It has beech forests, open tussock, huge mountains, rivers, lakes and wetland habitats. It is an area of natural importance which harbours a huge variety of native plants and wildlife.

Lake Camp

During my stay I van camped at Lake Camp campground a huge, freedom camping area with great views over the lake and the Harper mountain range beyond. This was probably one of the best freedom camp sites I’ve stayed at in NZ (including a lovely new set of toilets, and ample bins for rubbish).

Upon arrival, I enjoyed an afternoon in the sun including a 40 minute leisurely walk around the lake and a swim.

Clearwater Village from Lake Camp
Clearwater Village from Lake Camp

 

Feedom camping at its finest!
Feedom camping at its finest!

Mount Guy

Mount Guy is adjacent to Lake Clearwater and can be accessed easily from Clearwater village. The hike up Mount Guy is around 4.3kms one way and the climb is around 700m up to the summit at 1319m. I was up and back in around four hours, including a decent break at the top.

I drove the short distance from Lake Camp to Clearwater village. The village is an interesting jumble of holiday homes but there are no shops or facilities. I parked at Lake Clearwater picnic tables and headed East around the lake on the four wheel drive track at around 8.30am.

Clearwater Village to Mount Guy
Clearwater Village to Mount Guy

After a couple of Kms, and having crossed a little bridge over the lake outlet, I took the trail to Mount Guy, off to the right and over the stile. It was around 2Kms and 700m up to the summit from here.

The turn-off to Mount Guy
The turn-off to Mount Guy


The marked track started in beautiful golden tussock land on an initially gentle gradient. That didn’t last long though, and I was soon huffing my way up the mountain. The trail stayed to the right of a little gully and was easy to follow.

About half way up it got a little rocky, slippy and steeper and I arrived at what I had been thinking was the summit. This turned out to be just a rocky outcrop, but offered incredible views of the lakes, mountains, the Rangitata river and the Southern Alps beyond.

Be prepared for a lot of up!
Be prepared for a lot of up!

 

Close to what looks like a summit, three quarters of the way up
Close to (what looks like) a summit, three quarters of the way up

 

Tinytramper on Mount Guy with views of Lake Clearwater and beyond
Tinytramper on Mount Guy with views of Lake Clearwater and beyond

The final stretch

From the rocky outcrops the gradient became easier, and it was a comparatively gentle stroll to the summit, which was marked by a large cairn.

 

At the summit
At the summit


I reached the summit at 10.15am, and the views were splendid! Across the Canterbury plains to the East coast in one direction and across the Southern Alps in the West. Looking closely, I could make out where Te Araroa trail winds it’s way North to South, and I followed it back to the mountains, remembering the Clent Hills saddle we’d climbed over before descending down to Double hut.

 

Incredible views over the Hakatere Conservation Park
Incredible views over the Hakatere Conservation Park

 

Lake Emma
Lake Emma

 

Across the Canterbury plains
Across the Canterbury plains

From the top, you can easily see how much exploring there is to be done in the area. You could easily spend a week or more here. There are several ways you could descend from Mount Guy, but I retraced my steps down the marked track back to the lake. I got back to the stile at around 12.15pm.

Looking back at this morning's climb
Looking back at this morning’s climb

I continued walking around Lake Clearwater – which was approximately another 8Kms. I followed the marked trail over mostly flat terrain, which follows the four-wheel drive track. By this time the wind had got up, so it was a very blustery, hence the reason Lake Clearwater is so popular with windsurfers…. I watched them scooting back and forth across the lake.

Lake Clearwater
Lake Clearwater
Wetlands at the Western end of Lake Clearwater
Wetlands at the Western end of Lake Clearwater

 

Heading back to Clearwater village
Heading back to Clearwater village

I returned back to Clearwater Village via the tiny campsite, at 2pm windblown and happy. The trail up Mount Guy and around the lake makes a great day’s walk – great views, not too strenuous and gives you a good taster of everything else there is to explore in this beautiful area.

 

 

 

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