Our journey from Greymouth to Nelson was the longest driving day during our 2016 New Zealand road trip. We decided to break up the paved monotony by making a few short stops at the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks, Charleston, Westport, and finally a not so short stop at Mount Robert.
We parked at the lower car park and walked the first few kilometers of the Lakeside Track before taking the adjoining trail to Paddy’s Track. From there we continued along the Mount Robert Circuit clockwise finishing at the upper Mount Robert car park via the Pinchgut Track.
In hind side we should have parked at the upper car park and done the entire loop from there. This alternative route would have saved us a long walk down the road to the lower car park.
From the lower car park we began walking through the beech forests of the Lakeside Track.
I had high hopes of spotting a Kiwi bird in the dense dark underbrush, but they lived up to their reputation of being extremely elusive. All we saw were several weasel traps and a lot of beech trees.
This portion of the trail was flat and largely uneventful. Before long we were at the trail junction connecting the Lakeside Track to Paddy’s Track.
The trail between the Lakeside Track and Paddy’s Track was short, but fairly steep. Luckily we had plenty of shade from the beech trees and several streams to keep us cool.
After a few minutes of climbing we had reached Paddy’s Track. From here we continued clockwise along the Mount Robert Circuit towards the Bushline Hut.
After several minutes of walking up the steep switchbacks the beech trees began to become sparse.
Once we breached above the tree line our climb was rewarded with an incredible view of Lake Rotoiti.
We decided to make use of a small lookout to take a break, cool down, and take a few photos.
The trail continues steeply up towards the top of Mount Robert cutting across the grass lined face of the mountain.
As is usually true with alpine hikes the surrounding views get more and more incredible as the trail gains altitude.
After numerous switchbacks, a few scree filled gullies, and a card load of beautiful photos we finally reached the Bushline Hut. The half way point of the Mount Robert Circuit track.
The hut contains 14 bunk beds, heating, mattresses and operates on a first come first served basis.
A few minutes past the Bushline Hut lies another historic alpine hut.
Paddy’s Track continues along the ridge of Mount Robert and offers spectacular views from its scree covered slopes.
After hiking 1.4 kilometers on the ridge we reached the Relax Shelter.
This is where Paddy’s Track joins several longer hikes as well the our return trail to the car park.
From the shelter the Pinchgut track steeply descends down the scree covered slopes of Mount Robert.
Small shady patches of beech forest cool us down from the beaming sun on the exposed slopes.
After hiking 3.3 kilometers from the Relax Shelter we finally reached the upper Mount Robert car park.
Unfortunately for us and our aching knees we had another 20 minute walk down the paved mountain road to reach the lower car park at the Lakeside Track trailhead.
All in all it was a long, hot, tiring hike, but well worth the effort.