Tramping Mataketake Jan 2022

After canyoning in Robinson Creek, we drove North up the West Coast in uncharacteristic sunshine. We stopped at the car park to Blow Fly Hut and after much faffing walked into the hut for lunch. Well kind of lunch. We consumed a tub of yoghurt by the river and then continued walking. We climbed up to the tops which was a bit of a slog. Unfortunately the cloud had come in and pushed the sun away. Along the tops we walked. Sometimes the cloud would clear briefly and we’d get a view out towards the valleys below. We reached the new Mataketake Hut, which is bookable. It was cosy and full of girls so we didn’t stick around (it had also been booked out) preferring just one female and lumpy ground. We continued on towards Dime Lake where we planned to pitch our tents.

Abruptly, the cloud began to clear as we were pitching our tents and we climbed back up from our tent site and took photos. We had pitched some way above the lake in some moderately flat spots. I started preparing our rice risotto for dinner and we chatted. It was a nice evening and the disappearing clouds had left stars in the sky. I took some night photos of the glowing tent as Craig and Rachel headed off to bed.

The cloud snuck back in by the morning and we walked down to Maori Saddle Hut from the tops. We faffed around there with cups of tea and food for a while before walking out towards Blowfly Hut and back to the road. We treated ourselves to a swim in Lake Paringa and drove North. We camped at Lake Ianthe in the evening and enjoyed the sandflies and mosquitos as we cooked “the last supper”.  The following day we drove back to Christchurch. The sky was moody and so was Craig’s stomach so we skipped our planned canyon and went through Cave Stream instead.

French Ridge Jan 2022

After the Rees Rees we drove back to Wanaka for the night and the next morning Craig and Rachel rolled up in my car. The trusty outback was overflowing with stuff. After a cup of tea we said goodbye to Jeremy and Katie and drove around the lake to hospital flat and went climbing. Six bolted climbs later we went back down to the lake to swim and contemplate our next moves.

After much deliberating we decided to do an overnight tramping trip up to French Ridge in the Matukituki. We camped at the road end and walked in the valley the following day. It was an unusual day. It was extremely humid and the sky was white with homogeneous high cloud. This made for a sweaty walk. The ascent up French Ridge was steep and scrambly and it took us quite some time. We set up camp further up the ridge, above the hut and cooked dinner amongst a tiny rock biv that someone had constructed.

The weather was amazing the following day and we awoke to blue sky and sunshine. The views from the ridge were grand and we could see all the way across the valley to the Liverpool Hut with it’s red satellite toilet, two small dots in the distance. We could also see back across to Cascade Saddle where I’d been a few days earlier on the Dart side. Poking out through the saddle was what looked like Mt Earnslaw far in the background.

We packed up our tents and stashed some of our gear before wandering up the ridge towards the Quarterdeck, the ramp up onto the Bonar glacier. We followed the rocky ridge up crossing patches of snow and watched as a small avalanche came down off Mt French and onto the Quarterdeck. We took posy jumping photos and then headed back down. I joined the patches of snow together as much as possible glissading down the steeper sections.

It was time for lunch and hot drinks and then we collected our gear and continued down back into the Matukituki. After swimming and drinking more tea and waiting around for Plod we started heading out towards the car. It was already evening but it was still really hot. I walked without a t-shirt. It felt like high summer and really good.

We got out to the road end at dusk and cooked a quick cous cous meal before setting up camp.

Tramping Gillespie Pass Nov 2021

 

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.

 

The track took us through nice NZ bush near the Young River.

Above: A video of our trip over Gillespie Pass.

 

A map of our route in the Wilkin River, over Gillespie Pass and back out the Young River.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Map of trip on NZ topomap

Gillespie Pass Tramp Nov 2021