Eyre Mountains; Symmetry Peaks

A day ski touring trip from Queenstown with moderately easy access. I found the Eyre Mountains at this area to be very interesting topography with many options for the ski tourer. There are both shorter day trips as well as some longer ridge traverses possible.  The geology is quite rugged with  steeper terrain, which offers lots of couloirs through rock bands, for those keen on a steeper line.

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Symmetry peaks can be accessed from the turn off about 12 kms south of Kingston at Fairlight Station; the end point for the Kingston Flyer. Take Cainard Road heading west up the Mataura River. Further up the watershed there are extensive forestry interests with massive plantings of Douglas Fir. The forestry company has built a large network of roads  and has maintained them to a good level. DoC has negotiated access; the entire route to Symmetry peaks is on DoC easements. The road  is 4wd only. There are several river crossings but all of them have a concrete fords (except the Robert Ck crossing), and are not deep. The road is well  maintained and not hard going; moderate clearance should be all that is necessary. However you can expect frost lifting and so traction can be an issue as the road is not metaled. Therefore I would recommend off road tyres. Given you have some decent tread, pretty much any 4wd should make it in there, (except for maybe a BMW X5, which lets face it is not a car, nor a 4wd, and is in fact neither ).

Anyhow head up Robert Creek to the Ross Spur. Make sure you take a good map with you or you might find yourself lost in the forestry block.  Ross Spur is signposted!! Driving up the spur is not permitted, however we had skis on from the car at 60om and toured up through the pine forest with snow falling, making us feel like we were in Canada eh. Tree line is at about 8-900m, followed by tussock land and shrub. The track is clear and easy to follow. Look for an obvious fence-line at about 1150m to help with your bearings. Sidle around to the North at about 1400m, to find a bench that leads to a gut which in turn leads to the shelf below Symmetry Peaks. Route finding is a little tricky here, and can look quite improbable. However it is straight forward and low angle if you get it right. We transitioned from skins and skied in a downward traverse to gain the gut just above a small waterfall, that leads to the peaks. The gut provides straightforward, sheltered travel up to the main shelf, which itself is low angled easy terrain.


Once on the shelf there are many options for ascending the Symmetry Peaks, touring about, steep couloirs, extended trips and loops. We skied this area in winter in a low snow year, but when the snow line was moderately low. Late spring would be a whole bunch of walking  I would suggest. A great tour close to Queenstown. Get into it!