Mid Canterbury hiking friends Murray Thompson, Mandy Hurst and Jude O'Connor climb the steep first section of the Peak Hill track.

Canterbury has plenty of hiking tracks and scenic walks, but some of the best scenery around can be found on the Peak Hill route near Lake Coleridge.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) maintained track offers sweeping views of the lake and the majesty of the high country.

DOC classes the track as expert, simply because the walk is exposed and sudden changes of weather are not uncommon.

But on a calm, clear, balmy day the walk is a gem and the effort of the climb versus the reward of the views make it a real winner.

Peak Hill is accessed off Algidus Road, which can be picked up 5km before Lake Coleridge Village, or by going through the village and up the gravel road and turning left to follow signs.

From a signed parking area off Algidus Road there is a marked easement over private land and then a clearly marked route to the summit.

It’s pretty much straight into a grunty climb, but the views grow with each stride and after 30-45 minutes walkers are rewarded with the impressive sight of the eastern end of Lake Coleridge.

From the fence line the track continues to climb and follows a narrow ridge for a while.

The reward of the ascent comes with expansive views across the western arm of Lake Coleridge and out towards the headwaters of the Rakaia and Wilberforce rivers.

The braided river system, steep mountains and splendour of the high country are laid bare before you.

The top of the climb is marked with a stacked stone cairn and the flattish plateau has plenty of room to escape fellow walkers and to take in the peace and solitude.

I’ve done the walk on a number of occasions and I never tire of the natural scenery.

Sometimes there have been just a couple of other walkers on the track and a few more than that on other occasions.

But, on the first weekend of level 2 restrictions, my Sunday hike to the top with three hiking buddies was also shared with an estimated 80 plus others.

It was a glorious weather day with very little wind and clear blue skies and everyone wanted a taste of freedom and their fresh air fix.

Peak Hill is a known gem and a walk enjoyed by young and old.

While some were puffing hard, and others sweating off a boozy party the night before, a group of fit, enthusiastic teenagers were running down after a similar rapid scramble to the top.

The track takes most people between two and three hours to the top. The descent takes a little less time, but can be hard on the knees.

Pick a good day, take a camera and the right gear and tick off one of New Zealand’s best short walks from your bucket list.

By Mick JensenNike Sneakersadidas zx 8000