Katie and I drove down to Wanaka to meet Jeremy who was already there learning to fly fish. Annu drove up from her pad in Te Anau the following day and we headed to Makarora to walk the Gillespie Pass loop.
Day 1 – Makarora to Kerin Forks Hut
We set off from Makarora crossing the Makarora River, which was happily nice and low. The walk up the valley was a mix of paddocks with cows and native bush. We arrived at the Kerin Forks Hut in the evening after crossing the Wilkin River and finding a nice deep spot to get Katie wet to chest height. The hut looks out from the edge of the native bush back down the valley.
Above: We fought our way through a bog created by the cattle that are allowed to roam and poop in the Wilkin River. Lovely.
Day 2 – Kerin Forks Hut to Siberia Hut
It was a short day. We crossed back over the Wilkin River and located the track in the bush. We followed it and it took us up the side of the hill and around into a valley. It was warm and sunny again, really nice conditions. After a few hours we arrived at Siberia Hut. We spent the rest of the day faffing around the hut in the sunshine. Jeremy, Annu and I went swimming in the waterfall near the hut while Katie had a nap.
Above: We spent the afternoon relaxing at Siberia Hut.
Day 3 – Siberia Hut over Gillespie Hut to Young Hut
The blue sky was leaving and and so did we. It was going to be a long day so we left Siberia Hut early in the morning. The walk up to the pass was steep and we took a lot of breaks. There was snow at the top of the pass, slushy snow. We had crampons with us but they weren’t needed due to how soft it was. Instead we stomped up to the pass. The clouds opened for a little as we walked through the snow and we had a little bit of sun and blue sky before the grey returned. We took a bunch of jumping photos on top of the pass as that’s the sensible thing to do. The descent down to Young Hut was brutal on the knees. It’s very steep and you can see the 1000m descent down into the valley while descending. We stopped for a bit at one point and lay in the grass while Katie had a late lunch.
Above: There was ample opportunity for jumping photos.
Day 4 – Young Hut to Makarora
It still wasn’t raining! We walked out down the track. I went ahead and got the cooker going beside the river where we had a long morning tea. We continued out along the track and crossed the Makarora river which was much lower than we expected, around knee height at its highest.
We drove back to Jeremy’s Wanaka base for dinner and Annu headed back to Te Anau.
I’d camped at Mistletoe Flat in Craigieburn. After a short trip out to Porters to meet Ed, Abbie, and the kids and change plans we were back in Craigieburn. We started from the locked gate on the ski field access road and walked up to Camp Saddle. We had a snowball fight and snacks on arrival. The weather was great, warm and still. There were fluffy white clouds in the sky. We headed out along the ridge with great views down into the forest below. It was mostly very walkable with one section that was a bit of a scramble. It ended in a steep scree slope that was initially met with scepticism but it wasn’t long until we were all galivanting down it. We followed the luge mountain bike track back down to the road.
Above: I met Ed, Abbie and their kids and we went for a walk in the Craigieburn Forest Park.
Above: We walked up to Camp Saddle and then along the ridge.
Above: It ended in a steep scree slope that turned out to be good fun.