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Mystery Lake Loop, Canterbury

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Mystery Lake LoopIntermediate

Submitted by Nicky Armstrong

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Trail Information






Mt Somers Village

Back country - remote


Undulating, some big hills

Open tussock/grasslands


4:00 (Slow)
3:00 (Moderate)
2:00 (Fast)



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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.

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Features of interest

Make Up of Run

Moderate Single Track: 10%

Easy Single Track: 40%

Farm Road / 4WD Track: 50%

Route Data


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  • Access

    Follow the Hakatere Potts Road to the Lake Clearwater huts. Turn right down any of the roads and carry on to the lake edge.

    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



  • Staying Safe



    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.

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