Last Updated: 10th Jan 2024


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Mystery Lake Loop

Mt Somers Village, Canterbury

Submitted by Nicky Armstrong

Last Updated: 10th Jan 2024


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I've done it Done


Grunt Factor: 33 ?

Gnarl Factor: 12 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Back country - remote


Undulating, some big hills


Open tussock/grasslands

Run Makeup


Farm Road / 4WD Track

Easy Single Track

Moderate Single Track

Average Uphill Gradient: +4.3%

Average Downhill Gradient: -4.8%


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Estimated Times to Run







Park down by the lake front at the Lake Clearwater huts. Heading off clockwise around the lake the trail quickly turns to flat single-track following the lake shore through thickets of matagouri. After crossing a wooden bridge across the wetland at the western end of the lake the track leaves the water and begins an undulating run along old 4x4 tracks towards the confluence of the Potts River and the Rangitata. On a clear day there are spectacular views from here to the snow-covered mountains at the head of the Rangitata.

Just before the Potts River, the track turns north and begins to climb up towards the top of the range. Starting gently at first, but becoming steeper towards the top, the track continues along 4x4 track which is quickly reverting to single track without farm machinery keeping it open. The horizontal lines running across the slope parallel to the ridge are a legacy of when the whole valley was filled with glacier.

Just before the top of the ridge the track turns back west and a short, flat run brings you to Mystery Lake itself, hidden in a deep, unexpected little valley. From here the track follows the lake shore around and drops off down the far side through a series of roche mountonnees, another sign of the past glaciation. It's a relatively quick trip from here back down the slope to Lake Clearwater. When you hit the lake head left to complete the circuit via a well-worn four wheel drive track back to the huts.

There is parking for day visitors to the left along the lake front, through the caravan camp site. No public transport available.

33 km

34 minutes





Long-sleeved thermal top, Windproof jacket, Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Cellphone, Map

There are a few streams along the way but they can be ephemeral, especially during summer. Mystery Lake will have water all year around, however like anything it's drink at your own risk.

The whole basin can be covered with snow during winter, and the higher slopes will certainly have snow during this part of the year. During summer it is likely to be hot with very little shade, and spring can mean howling nor'westers. Always check the weather and bring the appropriate gear.

Trail Legend

Stewie Stuart

Stewie Stuart

has completed Mystery Lake Loop once in the last year.

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Trail Reviews

Absolutely stunning views of the past glaciation in the valley. Bit of a slog up to Mystery Lake for us newbies. Ran out of water on the way up but found 2 streams to fill up at. Swam in Mystery Lake! Very cold but thats what we are into ;) On the way down towards the TA section of the trail there is a great spot where you can get a really clear echo if you make some noises. Great run for us and the switchbacks on the approach back to Lake Clearwater were a lot of fun. Swam at lake clearwater at the end, bit of a let down. Very shallow and not cold enough!!!!

Stewie Stuart

May 1, 2023

As I read here. Couple of changes to the track. One parallel and one where te Te Araroa trail has made it a zig zag. Cut down the old direct track down. Used the GPX file on my watch for first time. Very handy! Although a reasonably well sign posted loop.

Alice Brice

October 4, 2021

Great Loop, well formed trail, stunning views.. One to put on your to do list 😀

Steve Anderson

November 29, 2020

Awesome winter loop. Mystery Lake was frozen (see pic) but maybe not enough for curling! Note the trail description says you turn west just before Mystery Lake but it's actually east.

Shane Fellowes

June 28, 2020

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