Scenic Route 72
Highway 72 is the inland scenic route located about an hour South of Christchurch. It begins in the North at Sheffield and ends in the South at Geraldine. This area features a picturesque landscape of mountains, lakes and large glacier-carved basins. Dotted along the highway are the towns of Alford Forest, Mayfield and Mt Somers.
Mt Somers is a little town in Mid-Canterbury on Highway 72 that boasts the beautiful backdrop of the Southern Alps. There has been a growth in
holiday makers in the area due to the lovely scenery.
The Māori name for Mt Somers is Te Kiekie, and it is believed that moa-hunter Māori visited the area around 500-800 years ago. This is indicated by the primitive drawings in rock shelters on Mt Somers that can be viewed.
It has been an industrious town in the past, with coal, clay, sand, and limestone all having been mined in the hills behind the town. It was also serviced by a railway until 1968.
Mt Somers is a wonderful area to visit all year round. One can enjoy looking at the lovely gardens and historical sites. There are moa sculptures to see at Alford Forest. These are two full sized sculptures of the extinct flightless Moa that used to exist in New Zealand.
Mt Somers features a varied landscape, with tussock lands, bush, interesting volcanic formations and deep canyons. Historic coalmines as well as railway relics can be seen in the area. There are several tracks in the Mt Somers Conservation area that can be walked to suit most levels of experience.
Mt Somers Track: This is a one to two day tramp that joins the Pinnacles and Woolshed Creek Huts. It allows a trip around Mt Somers. The summit is 1687m and provides 360 degree views of the beautiful mountains and valleys.
Alford Forest Track: (4.6km or 3 hours one way) This is a signposted track that passes through the Alford Scenic Reserve. It then climbs onto tussock grassland. There is a small section on private land prior to going through public conservation land. The track then climbs up to the Mt Alford summit which is 1171m high.