Mount Alexander: Mountain Climbing in Arthurs Pass

 Mount Alexander, Canterbury, New Zealand
Mount Alexander, Canterbury, New Zealand

I’d just come back from a solid week of eating and sleeping over the Christmas holidays when I got a text from Jo. A born-and-bred Cantabrian mate and keen outdoorsman, Jo invited me to come and climb Mount Alexander (1958m).

In need of some exercise, I jumped at the chance to join in! Along with my friends, Mark and James, I set off from Christchurch at 10 am and arrived at the start of the track, near Lake Brunner, at around 12 noon.

We put our packs on, and immediately found ourselves headed past 10 or so beehives located near the track entrance. If you’re doing the Mount Alexander trip, make sure you just drive straight through the gate and park in the gravel area, bypassing the bees!

Camp Creek Hut

We boulder hopped across the stream, weaving our way upwards before joining the track toward the hut, which we arrived at 2 hours later and upon arrival saw an awesome piece of art.

Camp Creek Hut

The Camp Creek hut has 6 beds and is well kept, thanks to the Department of Conservation and other responsible hikers!

Camp Creek Hut Bush Bath
Bush Bath!

The hut even has a bush bath right outside which we put to good use.

While today was only a short walk, we knew we needed to start early if we were to make the Mount Alexander summit. It would easily need to be a 10 hour day.

We caught up on all the reading in the hut, including Readers Digests from the ’70s and fell asleep on dark. We got up at 6 am, and after breakfast started our walk.

Mount Alexander Track

The day was amazing with little to no wind. The Mount Alexander track itself was quite steep for the first few hours, and in some places muddy.

Climbing Mount Alexander

I had my trusty Skellerup hunting boots on, however, Jo and Mark had lighter shoes, which were fine. Eventually, we got above the bush line at about 9.30 am to a superb view.

When you get above the bush line, there are two ways to go. We scrambled up to the right as we wanted to see if there was some deer among the tops.

The Mount Alexander track has lots of signposts, and you will find some tarns. If you are low on water at this point you should be fine to refill your bottle.

Low Peak, Mount Alexander
Low Peak!

We made it to Low Peak at around 10.30 am. From here, we could see our way up to the summit. The weather was settled, and we knew it wouldn’t be a long slog to the top.

We were also wearing good thermal layers and had jackets on. So, after stashing our heavy bags, to make it a faster climb, we headed for the summit.

To the Summit!

Climbing Mount Alexander
A little tricky here!

We soon discovered there are a few areas along this route from Low Peak to the Mount Alexander summit that require attention, as you can see in this photo.

We also spotted a Chamois along the way. As you can see from the chamois photo, it had just started to cloud over.

As we got closer to the summit, the cloud got really thick. That meant we never really got to see any views from the top, which we reached right on 12 pm!

There was also some snow for the last 300 metres or so, a nice contrast to the hot blue skies we were in just an hour or so ago.

It wasn’t at all cold, but it was good to have the thermals regulating our temperatures!

Chamois, Mount Alexander

The Way Back Down Mount Alexander

We spent just 5 or so minutes on the top before heading back down. The return trip was agonisingly slow given the steepness of the track.

We arrived back to the car at 6 pm, all in all, an 11 hour day. It’s a great feeling when you’ve done one of these hikes, especially knowing you reached the summit.

Writing this with sore legs I’m feeling slightly less guilty for the week of doing nothing over Christmas… Thanks to Jo for organising the Mount Alexander trip!

Blog post by Adam Hutchinson

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