5 wish-list trails on NZ's South Island
A mix of South Island classics and lesser know gems
New Zealand's South Island is a globally renowned destination for exploring the outdoors, whether that's short trails on your doorstep or tackling one of the Great Walks. With over one hundred South Island trails to choose from on the Capra app we've picked five to put on your bucket list. Starting with a classic couple in Queenstown these will take you further afield to Wanaka, then to Hooker Valley under Mt Cook and then up to the northern region of the South Island. Moke Lake Loop (main photo)Distance: 6.3km, Difficulty: BlueMoke Lake is a small lake just out of Queenstown which has some stunning mountain and lake views. Starting at the edge of the Ben Lomond Station and Camping Ground you can loop the lake any way you like.Tips:You will be required to drive on a dirt road to get to the starting point. However, this road is generally in great condition and is used frequently by people camping at Moke Lake. Ben Lomond SummitDistance: 15.6km Difficulty: BlackThe Ben Lomond Track is a demanding climb and a full day's hike with a tough 1,350m +/- elevation gain in around 7km. On clear days runners and hikers are rewarded at the summit with spectacular panoramic views of Queenstown and the Ben Lomond Station. Roy's PeakDistance: 13km, Difficulty: BlackThis is a popular track especially in tourist seasons, it's not a hard technical trail but is a long climb up a wide path that will have you puffing straight away. Roy's Peak is most famous for its breathtaking views over Lake Wanaka, Mount Aspiring/Tititea and surrounding peaks after a steep climb through alpine meadows and tussock grasslands to the summit. Hooker Valley TrackDistance: 10.5km, Difficult: GreenA truly memorable trail that winds its way to the edge of Hooker Lake showcasing Mr Cook in the distance. The trail is fairly wide and an easily runnable surface that also takes you over the swing bridges you'll see in photographs. Your journey starts with one of the most scenic drives you'll ever experience as you approach up Mt Cook Road heading to the Mount Cook Village, but it doesn't stop there. The whole Hooker Valley has views for days! Rivers, mountains and glaciers!!!You can start the trail from the Hooker Valley main car park or from the Mount Cook Village itself but make sure you pack your camera and leave plenty of time as you'll be stopped more times than you can think of to take photos. Parachute RocksDistance: 11km, Difficulty: BlackStarting at the edge of Lake Rotoiti, the track ascends steadily through beech forest up to St Arnaud Range. Much of the climb is in the bush - a technical trail with plenty of tree roots and natural steps to negotiate as the trail zig-zags its way up towards the bush line.At about 1400m you come across Parachute Rocks and wonderful views of Nelson Lakes National Park. The track then gets steeper as you follow the orange poles up, straight up an exposed slope, to the St Arnaud Ridgeline. You are rewarded by spectacular views of the surrounding area, as described in "features of interest". Come back down the way you came.The lower section of the walk crosses moraine terraces deposited by past glaciers. As you climb through the beech forest, notice how it adapts to suit the changing altitude. The lower slopes are dominated by large red beech, with a healthy sub-canopy of other species, such as broadleaf and putaputawÄtÄ. Higher up, silver beech and finally the hardy mountain beech take over. Note how the mountain beech becomes progressively stunted as you climb higher to the bush line. Above the bush line (at 1400m), there are spectacular views from Parachute Rocks, which gained their name from a parachute-shaped gravel scree located just to the north. Trees give way to snow tussock, sub-alpine shrubs and, higher still, alpine herb fields. In late spring and early summer, these herbs flower, creating a glorious display of gold and white. The track climbs from here to the ridgeline, where you are rewarded by spectacular views of the surrounding area: east, down the Wairau Valley, north, to Mt Richmond Forest Park, west towards Kahurangi National Park and the Buller Valley, and south to the rest of Nelson Lakes National Park.