Anyone approaching the Kaikōura peninsula can hardly fail to notice the rugged high peaks towering above the coastal strip, and remarkably close to the sea. Manakau, the highest peak on the range, is only 12km from the coast, and in winter the snowy summits seem tantalisingly close. The range experiences climatic extremes – dry in summer, southerly storms and snow in winter. Vegetation cover was greatly modified in Polynesian times by burning and later by pastoral clearing. Pockets of original podocarp forest remain, and some Hall’s tōtara and red beech on higher slopes. There are extensive areas of subalpine scrub, kānuka and mānuka. Like its inland counterpart, the Seaward Kaikōura Ranges was formed by rapid land uplift, and there is much evidence of faulting and erosion on the dry and barren upper slopes.
Ka Whata Tu o Rakihouia Clarence Conservation Park straddles the Seaward Kaikōura Range and includes the eastern side of the Inland Kaikōura Range.
Peaks of the southern range are reached from the Kowhai and Hapuku Rivers. Peaks north of Manakau are climbed from the Puhi Puhi Valley and Miller Stream. Western approaches from the Waiau Toa Clarence Valley are remote and seldom used.
There is a skifield (Mt Lyford) on private land at the very southern end of the range. From here you can access some moderate gully climbs on the south and south-east faces of Mt Terako. Note that if you walk out of the ski area you must sign an intentions book, since the skifield operators are responsible for safety.
Photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/expatnomad/353488709 (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) and Shaun Barnett/ Black Robin Photography