Hawkdun Range backcountry ski tour

After a prolonged period of heavy snowfall from the south east the Hawkduns became a great prospect. It’s a sister range to the St Bathans range, running parallel and of roughly the same dimensions. However we found it much more user friendly with much easier access (ski from the car), and the tussock and grass covered slopes hold the snow better are a lot easier on the skis than the rockier St Bathans.

We caught this ski tour with plenty of snow and so drove (4wd) as far as we could until the snow drifts became too deep. The start point is arbitrary as access is easy everywhere, and the Hawkdun Range is long and flat on top, so there is no real summit to aim for. The vertical relief is huge, around 1000m, however from the valley floor you wouldn’t guess this as the view is foreshortened. We realised just how big it is on the descent of a large face. I was thinking maybe 20 turns down the face. Must have got over 100 and still counting. We were like little ants.

The views into all of Otago are quite special. Great views are south to the Knobbies Range, Old Man and Old Woman ranges, Dunstans etc. This is a neat ski adventure if you are looking for something different. And if you want to add some spice if you are coming in from Wanaka try a 4wd over Thompsons Track through the Dunstan range to top it off. Enjoy!

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