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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Hayden

The gate to the Gorge (Mt Difficulty)

Updated: Dec 18, 2023

Everybody moans about the cold, myself included, but winter in Central Otago might be the best time of year.

The mountains transform, the ski lifts tick over and people come from allover the world for it.

Sadly, I don't have my shit together for snowboarding yet 😔

Money has been tight but now I've finally paid my student loan off, I'll be able to do a little more than just trudge through the snow soon👌🏿

That being said, winter is my favourite time to hike.

Speaking of which...

I went on another walk last weekend, I've had my eye on this one for a while, waiting for a late season 😄

Mt Difficulty is visible from my bedroom window, I also drive around it every time I go to Queenstown.

I knew getting up Difficulty was going to be a big day and that got me going a bit, I do love a big day😅

I started at the Bannockburn Sluicings, a short walk I did with my Mum and Brother when they were last here.


I turned off the Sluicings track following markers to Long Gully. I must've gone on autopilot for a bit there, I ended up following the farm track for a while before I even realised the orange capped stakes had disappeared😅

The Kawarau river meeting Lake Dunstan

You can spot my path on the right⏬


I thought that tiny little cell tower above was on the top but surprise surprise, there's more 🤏🏻


Right under that rainbow is my pot of gold, it's not Difficulty though 😅

That's unnamed peak 1249,

Next in line on the Carrick Range.

I actually thought I might find the end of the rainbow briefly, it hung around for a good half hour but left me hanging in the end 🤷🏻‍♂️

Looking back on Mt Difficulty and Pisa


Gibbston Valley towards Queenstown

After identifying sorrounding mountains, and stabilising my nicotine levels

my next destination was Slapjack Saddle,a short walk further along the ridgeline.

Between unnamed peak and the Saddle a rock drew my attention,

It must've been close to a hundred metres long and had a hollow with lucious green grass, it almost looked like a room 🧐


I found it !

It wasn't as spacious as it had looked from a distance but either way it's a very nice rock.


I'd improvised a lot that day, not always intentionally😅

I must've taken the wrong fork just before the saddle and ended up back on the farm track, then down a livestock track.

What I needed to do was backtrack...

Don't disturb the sheep🫢

Try avoid the spikes👨‍🦯

There came a time when I'd gone too far to back track and just accepted my fate.

Cover up and push through the bushes😆

Once I got back on track I intended to stay there, well, "there" but further down there😝


I'd never seen my little town like this before.

It's beautiful isn't it 😌

These local trips have given me a greater understanding of this place I call home.

There's a couple more in the area I'd like to summit before spring, infact you can see one of them in the background ⏫

Until then 🙋🏻‍♂️

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