Trip to ZL Land

Hello all! I am leaving later today on a trip to New Zealand and am planning to build in time for a few SOTA activations. I have a couple alerts posted for summits that I’m fairly certain I’ll have time for, but there may be more as well depending on how our trip goes. It is our honeymoon, so I’m definitely not devoting a lot of time to playing radio, but my wife is more than happy to set aside some time for a few activations, especially if they include a hike with a nice view.

I have the VHF calling frequency set up in my HT, but wanted to check to see if there were other common SOTA frequencies that are used? I will be using a 5W VHF/UHF HT and a KX2. I primarily activate using CW in the US but it seems like SSB might be more common there?

Any advice would be more than welcome, as well as any summit suggestions! We are spending one day in Auckland and then the remainder of the trip is on the South Island, we will be driving the corridor between Queenstown and Christchurch with several stops along the way.


If you give some idea of distance and altitude gain that you would consider then I’m sure we can give plenty of recommendations.

To start off with a handful:
Queenstown area:

  • Mt Dewar - ZL3/OT-358 is an easy 2km walk up to a quiet summit with views up Lake Wakatipu and over the town. Park at Skippers Saddle. Note that the skippers road beyond the saddle is not open to rental cars, but access to the trailheads at the saddle should be ok.
  • Ben Lomond ZL3/OT-266 is a full day’s walk on a well used trail with typical ZL altitude gain for a 6-pointer - 1300m from the lake, or 900m if you take the gondola. It will be busy (as will Mt Iron that you have alerted for) but the neighbouring Bowen Peak will be quieter.

If you can’t face the crowds on Mt Iron then ZL3/OT-437 - Rocky Mountain is a similar length of walk on a good track with also good views up Lake Wanaka and towards Mt Aspiring.

Beyond that happy to give advice. There’s a strong SOTA community in Christchurch so I’ll leave them the opportunity to give advice for that area. will show you which SOTA peaks are on public land (purple triangles) and which are on private (pink), and also shows public walking tracks (select ‘public access land’ from the layers menu on the map to show parks (green) and walking tracks (red dashed/solid). The map turns to a 1:50k topomap once you zoom in.

Beyond Christchurch environs you are very unlikely to qualify a peak on VHF/UHF. My own morse is not up to SOTA activations yet - so can’t advise on CW. On SSB 40m works well within ZL (7.090 SOTA COA), and 20m (14.310 SOTA COA) generally gives you the eastern VK states. Beyond that distances and time differences make DX challenging but rewarding when it does happen.


Thanks for those recommendations! We are both strong hikers, a normal day for us in W7W land is around 15 km and 1000m elevation. That being said, our trip plan lends itself more towards shorter distances, mostly half day opportunities. The best regions where we have a lot of time to devote to something is Queenstown on the 4th, Wanaka on the 7th, and Christchurch on the 10th. There may be opportunities in between, but they would be more roadside types of summits, which seem few and far between.

Thanks for the resource, it looks fantastic for searching for good summits.

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Hi Nathan,
I see you will be in Christchurch on the 10th. Being a Sunday you’ll have a good following from the local chasers on 2m, 146.500 for any of the peaks on Banks Penninsula, which is between Christchurch & Akaroa. Mount Sinclair, ZL3/CB-726 is about an hour & a half walk from the car. Lavericks, ZL3/CB-757 takes about 40 minutes from the car park. Flag Peak, ZL3/CB-737, which is above Akaroa takes approx 40 minutes. No permission is needed for these two pointers as they all have public access.
There are others around Christchurch with a higher elevation with the same 2m coverage into Christchurch.