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Hike the Mount Somers Track Circuit

Staveley, New Zealand

based on 3 reviews



16.2 miles

Route Type



Added by Maggie Evans

The Mount Somers Track is close to Christchurch, offers great views with impressive rock formations, and can be enjoyed as a LONG and hilly 26km day hike or spread out over 2 or more days if you choose to stay in Pinnacles and/or Woolshed Creek Hut.

The Mount Somers circuit is a tough 26km adventure, but it rewards you with constantly changing but beautiful scenery. From the start at the Sharplin Falls carpark, the trail immediately climbs upward through lush forest. As soon you reach a highpoint, you descend again to cross the river (via a swingbridge!) only to start another upward climb. You eventually break the tree line and start to see some of the amazing rock features and subalpine terrain. You stay above the trees for quite a while, but the up-down-up-down continues throughout the circuit.

Unless you're feeling super fit and up for a challenge, plan to do the loop as an overnight trip rather than a long day trip. However, that being said, my friend and I did the whole circuit as a day-trip (from Dunedin!) in mid-June when the days are short, so it's worth considering the day-trip option, especially during the summer and if you're setting out from Christchurch.

If you choose to make it an overnight trip, the first hut along the circuit (if you do the loop counter-clockwise) is Pinnacles Hut, and is only 5.2km from the carpark. The next hut you reach is Woolshed Creek Hut, which is about 11.5km from the start, so it makes a better mid-way destination. The circuit track doesn't take you to the summit of Mount Somers, but if you're keen to do the out-and-back summit detour you'll have the chance about 3/4 of the way along the circuit. We didn't have time to explore the summit, but I reckon it's a worthwhile excursion.

More track and hut info can be found here.

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Hike the Mount Somers Track Circuit Reviews

Tough and long hike Path on north is steep and gets frozen during winter

~TLDR: AMAZING hike, beautiful views esp for LOTR fans, steep/slippery in places, can be done in a day if you push it/are fit and determined, beware if you have knee or ankle issues~ Rob (26yo M) and I (25yo F) completed the Mt Somers Track in one day (~9.5 hours, setting off from the Sharplin Falls carpark at 9am and returning 6:20pm). The signs at the car park indicated that the circuit should take ~14 hours. We didn’t have the means or time to make it a two day-er, so decided to just go for it and hope for the best. With the long DOCS time estimate and approaching sunset in the back of our minds, we kept up a pretty consistent pace and took few breaks. At the Pinnacles Hut we stopped for ~5 mins and at Woolshed Creek Hut we ate lunch for ~10 mins. Other than that, we paused only for a couple of quick photos, toilet breaks and some shoelace reties. We hiked anti-clockwise (reaching Pinnacles before Woolshed). The route itself varied in difficulty. It had rained a lot the night before, so the first and last quarters of the walk were very muddy. The start was consequently particularly hairy, especially as we didn’t have poles so resorted to grappling tree roots to pull ourselves up the steep track. From Pinnacles to Woolshed was dry, and less steep. After Woolshed the track ascended steeply and for quite some distance. Also, the sun came out so we suffered a little in the heat (despite being Australian), but once we rounded the south face it was quite a bit cooler. The most painful part of the hike was surprisingly the long descent. Parts were steep and rocky, and my knees especially caused me a lot of pain. This meant we stopped a couple of times to stretch and give our knees and ankles a break. As we descended into the thicker/wetter forest, the ground was slippery as it had been at the beginning of the walk and we had to slow down. For reference, we are quite fit (run 5-10km easily and regularly), though far more experienced in road running than trails/ hiking. We were very tired by the end of the circuit. We each carried ~1.5L of water, ran out just after Woolshed Creek Hut (*NB: refill here*) and refilled once at a stream. Ultimately, we loved the hike and didn’t mind being tired once we were done. The views were absolutely spectacular and definitely worth the effort. Good to know it is feasible in one day, probably more pleasant as a two day-er especially in summer.

Another option for reaching the Mt Somers Summit on the circuit is to take the slope up from the west. There is no marked route but it is easy to follow the gentle slope all the way up to the summit. Going counter-clockwise after the Bus Stop overhang the track crosses a small stream. This is the last stream on the topo map before The Rhyolite Ridge Track junction. After the stream veer off the track and follow the spur southeast up on the south side of the stream. Then just follow the slope east all the way up to the summit. Take the normal marked route back to the main track.

Leave No Trace

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