Peaks Classification

We use one main rule to determine if a peak should be added to the official New Zealand Peak Bagging List. This rule is based on accessibilility – that is, is it feasible to reach the summit by walking, tramping, or scrambling, and without trespassing on private land? (That is, without needing any climbing or mountaineering skills or equipment. This is not a mountaineering peak bagging list).

In addition to this rule, we use a number of physical and cultural guidelines to determine if a peak is ‘worthy’ of making the list.

1. Accessibility

The peak must be accessible. To meet this requirement, ALL of the conditions below must be met.

  • The peak must be able to be reached without trespassing on any privately or publically owned land.
Land which is privately or publically owned, but for which the land owner has granted blanket access rights (or has supplied an application for access/permit process) is deemed to be eligible under this rule.
  • The peak must be able to be reached without violating any special restrictions or closures put in place (permanently or temporarily), for at least a 3 month period during the year.
Examples include closure for lambing, safety, track maintenaince, spiritual reasons.
  • The peak must be able to be reached without needing special mountaineering equipment or experience to reach the summit, at least in the summer season.
The summit and route must not be permanently covered in snow or ice, and/or it must accessible in summer without needing crampons or ice axes for example. That is, it must be able to be reached by walkers or trampers, not mountain climbers.
  • The peak must be able to be reached without putting the ‘average’ hiker into unnecessary danger.
Examples include very remote and un-travelled routes, dangerous river crossings, badly maintained tracks, or extremely high risk of volcanic activity.

2. Physical and Cultural Guidelines

The following guidelines are used to assist in placing some form of ‘value’ on a peak, and to determine if it should be placed on the official New Zealand peak bagging list. Even if a peak meets the accessibility requirements above, this is not enough to automatically include it on the list, so we use these guidelines to make the list as varied and rewarding as possible.

The more ‘Yes’ answers to these guidelines, the more likely the peak will be added to the official list.

  • Is the summit greater than 100m above sea level?
It is very very unlikely a summit less than 100m above sea level would be added to the list. The higher the peak, the more chance it has of being included.
  • Does the summit or journey provide rewarding views?
  • Is the summit obvious and/or contain a landmark? e.g. a trig, or cairn?
  • Is the peak easily reached on weekend trips from main population centres/transport routes?
Peak baggers should not need to spend large amounts of money or time on reaching the walk (e.g. days and days of tramping, or helicopter rides).
  • Does the peak hold special historical, social, or cultural significance?
That is, does the peak, or the route, hold special significance to the people of New Zealand, and/or contains significant points of interest (e.g historical building or other landmark).
  • Is the summit accessible only by foot, and not via public road?
  • Is peak a named ‘mountain’?
e.g. Peaks named ‘Mt Suchandsuch’ on New Zealand topo maps are more likely to be included than un-named peaks.
  • Where a peak is one of a number on a marked track, is the peak the highest (or most ‘rewarding’) on that track?

I’ve spotted an exception to your ‘rules’. What gives?

While we aim to adhere to these rules as closely as possible, we reserve the right to make occasional exceptions, especially under the ‘Physical and Cultural Guidelines’ section. These guidelines are designed to include some lower peaks which are nevertheless still worthy of ‘bagging’. For example, a peak which is only 100m high, but which is steep, offers views or historical sights, and is close to a major city, has more chance of making our list than a remote 700 metre high slog to a bush clad, barely recognisable summit.

Only 100m high? That’s not a peak! Why don’t you have a decent height cut off like every other peak bagging list in the world?

It is true the New Zealand Peak bagging list is unique when compared to other peak bagging lists from around the world. Most other peak bagging lists contain mountains over a specified height, and usually include every summit over that given height in particular areas.

There is in fact a topographical merit list of Mountains in New Zealand already – thanks to the magnificent research done by the New Zealand Alpine Club. This list has a cut off height of 1400m, and you will see that it includes many mountains that are for serious mountaineers only. New Zealand is a mountainous and sparsely populated country, and a list based solely on height like this includes many inaccessible peaks, and excludes many equally rewarding lower peaks. Unlike the list of Munros in Scotland, a height based New Zealand list is not an achievable list for walkers and trampers, and this is why we created very different system for compiling our New Zealand Peak Bagging list.

This approach of course leaves hundreds of New Zealand summits off our list. Unless you find one that meets our rules for accessibility above, please don’t attempt to bag peaks in remote or closed areas. Many New Zealand mountain summits should be left in peace – they are either dangerous to get to, sacred, or on private land. Please stick to those that have public or well traveled routes defined for them.

One of our core aims is to provide a list that all New Zealanders (and her visitors) can enjoy. Whether you be 7 years old, recovering from ill health, or just generally unfit, we aim to include peaks for everyone – from those just embarking on their peak bagging adventures, right through to those who run up Tongariro before breakfast.