Mount Sunday

Mount Sunday

Mount Sunday is a prominent hill near the Rangitata River in Hakatere Conservation Park. The popularity of the small hill stemmed from the mountain being the filming location for Erodas in The Lord of The Rings trilogy. It’s a walk that boasts incredible views of some of Canterbury’s mountain ranges whilst being an easy walk. If you have some time after a hike in the area it’s a great walk to tac on to the end as a side trip while you are exploring Hakatere Conservation Area. The one deterring factor for visiting this mountain is the long drive from Christchurch. There are a number of other smaller walks in the area too, the Lake Clearwater Circuit Track, Lake Emma Track and Lake Hill Track’s are all short walks that are well worth checking out if you plan on are visiting the area.


45 mins


1.5 km


100 m



Mount Sunday in the background along the walking track
Looking back towards Mount Sunday walking along the vehicle track

43°32′52″S 170°53′33″E

In Detail

If you’re a Lord of the Rings fan then this scene from the Two Towers movie should re-jog your memory and give the mountain and the area some meaning. A DOC sign at the start of the track stated that it takes approximately 45 minutes to reach Mount Sunday. This is, however, heavily dependant on how fast you walk. I found that a pretty generous time to reach the top is half an hour (30 minutes) making a return journey of approximately an hour. If you have young children and are thinking of heading out on this walk 45 minutes is probably a more realistic time.

Looking back along the Mount Sunday walking track
Looking back across the trail that leads to the summit of Mount Sunday

Getting There

From Christchurch take SH1 (state highway one) out to Rakaia then turn right onto Thompson’s Track. At Ashburton forks make a dogleg turn and continue on Thompson’s Track taking a right shortly after bringing you onto Tramway Road. Make a further small dogleg turn onto Ashburton gorge road which will take you through to Hakatere. Follow the road straight at Hakatere where the road becomes gravel. Eventually, you’ll reach the township of Lake Clearwater. Continue following the Hakatere Potts Road down towards Mount Sunday. You’ll cross a bridge over the Potts river before reaching the car park just off the road to Mount Sunday. It is reasonably obvious and you’ll usually see a number


The walk up to the summit of Mount Sunday is marked by the memorable DOC orange markers. There are a number of different routes along the flats at the start of the track, however, there is only one place to cross a number of small streams along the way. Each of the streams is bridged by a swing bridge which you must cross before climbing up towards the summit of Mount Sunday. Following the ridge up to the top of Mount Sunday you see out over the countryside and down the valleys of the Havelock and Clyde rivers. Return via the same route that you used to reach the summit.

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Walking Track

The walking track begins from the carpark where there’s a small gate that you pass through and then you’re on your way. The tracks fork where you can follow at the start of the walk to Mount Sunday. As confusing as it may be, there is a vehicle track and a partially obscured walking track that both will lead you to the summit. The walking track is marked by a number of orange markers for you to follow. A couple of information boards are placed along the walk for visitors to read about the ecology in the area on the public conservation area. It’s important to stick to the track as parts of the track cross private land.

Start of the Mount Sunday Walking Track
Along the walking track, Mount Sunday in the background
Top: The start of the poled route through the bush looking back towards the carpark
Bottom: Following the more obvious gravel route not far from the carpark towards Mount Sunday


There are a couple of bridges that have been constructed over the streams along the walk. The first is a small wooden walking bridge. The second is a suspension bridge with a limit of one person at a time. The suspension bridge gives a good view out over the mountains looking down the river. After crossing the second bridge there isn’t far before you reach the climb up Mount Sunday.

Swing bridge along the Mount Sunday Walking Track

Top: Walking across the first wooden bridge on the way to Mount Sunday
Bottom: Sam admiring the views on the suspension bridge looking out over Mount Sunday

Summit Climb

The climb to the summit follows the south-eastern ridge of Mount Sunday. Dirt steps have been cut into the ridge formed over the years from many people making there way up to to the summit. It can be slippery from the mud over this section. Take care and make sure that you dig your feet in for the climb. As you climb you may notice some of the surrounding mountains that make up the backdrop for Erodas.

Hiking up the ridge to the summit of Mount Sunday
Top: Two people making there way back down from the summit of Mount Sunday along the ridge
Middle: Looking out between Mt Potts and The Pyramid to see the moon rise between the two
Sam climbing through the tussock towards the summit between the tussock and dirt

Mount Sunday

The views from the top of Mount Sunday are awe-inspiring. To the left looking up the valleys is the Havelock River whilst to the right is the Clyde River. In the winter months, all of the mountains become powder coated in white snow. The summit is marked by a trig marker used for surveying the surrounding land however the best views are down a little further looking out over the surrounding mountains. Wind can howl across to the tops of Mount Sunday and be very bitter at times. I would recommend taking a windbreaker and a warm jacket so you can enjoy yourself.

At the summit of Mount Sunday
Top: Looking out over the Havelock (left) and Clyde (right) rivers from the top of Mount Sunday, Cloudy Peak centre frame
Looking down the Havelock River from the summit of Mount Sunday

Return Journey

To make your way back is just the same way as you walked to the top of Mount Sunday. You can take one of the alternative routes mentioned earlier to make it back to the carpark to add a little variation. The puddles near the start along the vehicle tracks made for beautiful reflections of the surrounding hills. These begin soon after the first bridge on the return journey and are an easier path to follow.

Another puddle that I picked out on the way back that had some really good reflections