Last Updated: 11th Jan 2024

Intermediate - Experienced

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I've done it Done

Looping Mt Harper

Mt Somers Village, Canterbury

Submitted by Fiona Stechmann

Last Updated: 11th Jan 2024

Intermediate - Experienced

Save Trail Save

I've done it Done


Grunt Factor: 45 ?

Gnarl Factor: 71 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Front country - easily accessible


Very hilly

Open farmlands

Open tussock/grasslands

Open ridges/tops

Run Makeup


Easy Single Track

Untracked / Route only

Average Uphill Gradient: +12.7%

Average Downhill Gradient: -14.2%


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Estimated Times to Run

Not suitable






From Lake Camp start along the track that is signposted towards Lake Emma. Follow this cross the stile and continue until you cross the obvious riverbed that may or may not be dry.

Soon after crossing the riverbed take the righthand turn onto the well formed but unmarked track that heads up towards Balmacaan Saddle. Continue to follow this trail till you start to climb up to the saddle when the trail runs out. From here you head up to the saddle, you can follow the fence line but the vegetation is easier to negotiate slightly further to the left - you are pretty much just looking for animal trails to find the easiest way up.

Once you reach the saddle you then follow the ridge to the right up towards pt1658. From here stay on the ridge up to Mt Harper. There are lots of options for descending - look at the spurs that you pass on the way up to get a good idea of which one you want to come down as some of them are quite steep. The one followed by this route is good travel and only one small section of spaniard and matagouri, but easily negotiable. To access this from Mt Harper continue north towards pt 1506 then west on the first obvious but narrow spur between the two stream valley. Stay on the spur all the way back down to the track along Balmacaan Stream and then go back the way you came.

This trail includes the peak Mount Harper/Mahaanui.

If you know of any public toilets near the trail start or on the route, please login and then let us know so we can update this section.

Lots of parking by Lake Camp, Toilets available next to Lake Camp or slightly further up the main road towards Lake Clearwater.

33 km

34 minutes




Do not attempt unless you have good navigation skills, especially if there's anything but perfect visibility.

Very patchy.

Waterproof leggings, Thermal leggings, Lightweight fleece top, Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Gloves, Beanie/thermal headwear, Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival bag, Cellphone, Compass, Map, Headtorch and spare batteries, Crampons / microspikes (for winter conditions), Gaiters

None once you leave Balmacaan Stream

Snow is possible year round but likely in winter. This route is very exposed from all directions. Low cloud or fog could make navigation quite difficult so good map and compass skills are important.

Lost of Spaniard and Matagouri.

Trail Legend

Ben  Brown

Ben Brown

has completed Looping Mt Harper once in the last year.

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Trail Reviews

Magic .... apart from as Steve said be prepared! I had low cloud to the point that I had to use my topo app to find my way. I should of had a hard copy of map as back up as I would of been stuffed if I dropped my phone. Lesson learnt ... fortunately not the hard way. I went the other way as per instructions of foothills book by Pat Barrett.

Alice Brice

September 20, 2021

Stunning, On a good day! .. Can get very windy and exposed up high. Upto the saddle is very runnable then the push to the top there's a lot tussock hopping & spanniard dodging rewarded with spectacular views, always sunny above the clouds on the decent got a little mistified as the fog rolled in, nztop50 & the wife's Macpac puffer jacket came in handy! Steep decent on the ridge looping back down to the track with a fun and enjoyable run back to the carpark nice to stretch the legs out 👍

Steve Anderson

December 28, 2020

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