Extended Trip - Saturday 16 January 2016 to Sunday 31 January 2016 (16 days)
Photo Gallery Feiyan Zhong
16/01/2016 Makarora to Young Forks Campsite
17/01/2016 Young Forks Basin
18/01/2016 Gillespie Pass
19/01/2016 Siberia Hut
20/01/2016 Siberia to Kerin Forks Hut
21/01/2016 Kerin Forks to Top Forks Hut
22/01/2016 Top Forks Hut Day Trip
23/01/2016 Top Forks to Makarora
25/01/2016 Wanaka Grandview Track
26/01/2016 Motatapu Track - Fern Burn Hut
27/01/2016 Motatapu Track - Highland Hut
28/01/2016 Motatapu Track – Roses Hut
29/01/2016 Motatapu Track - Macetown
30/01/2016 Macetown to Arrowtown
Our plans were to explore the Young / Wilkin valleys via Gillespie Pass, and then head around to check out the Matukituki area ...
After dropping Keith’s party off at Arrowtown, Laurence capably drove our new Big Blue up the very steep and winding Crown Range road en route to Makarora - the bus took it all easily in its stride.
Enough room for all our tents at Young Forks on night 1, with most choosing the easy option of lining up along the flat area near the cooking shelter.
The following day we walked up past the Young Hut, and then up into the Young Basin - a spectacular area with steep mountains all around, and any number of places for camping beside the Young River. Time to walk further up the valley, and in due course views of Mt Awful at the head of the valley as the clouds moved to and fro.
"Claggy" is a great word to describe our traverse of Gillespie Pass the next day - we left in cloud, walked further up .. and up ... into it, and then down out of it on the other side. A great rocky playground to revisit on a fine day. Then continued on to Siberia Hut, where we stayed for 2 nights, with a number of discussions on our options as the weather forecast continued to be dismal, to the extent that mountains would be obscured by the continued low cloud and damp weather for the next several days.
Despite that, Christine, Gareth and Tony decided on a trip the next day up a side valley to Crucible Lake, a high lake with mountains on 3 sides, and on arrival found to be full of ice blocks. The cloud wafting to and fro - at times obscuring then revealing the mountains behind - served to make this a very magical spot.
Then on down the Siberia Valley, and across the Wilkin River to Kerin Forks Hut - Terry, Dave, Christine and Gareth chose the immediate, deeper crossing point, then Dave stayed at the hut with us, while the others continued on up the Wilkin valley to join Andrew’s party. Ian did an explore and found a shallower crossing place for the rest of us.
Continuing the gradual whittling down of the party, Ian and Anna decided to stay put at Kerin Forks, leaving Laurence, Dave, Tony, and Fay to continue on to Top Forks Hut the next day, with time in the afternoon for Tony to check out the walk to Lakes Diana and Lucidus.
A key target for our party in this super location was to visit those lakes, also continue on up to Lake Castalia, so the next day we set off, reaching the first two without any issues for a pleasant morning tea break at the outlet end of Lucidus Lake. Continuing on up the valley the clagginess progressed into drizzle, then driving cold rain, so although quite close to Castalia, we turned back and returned to the hut.
We managed to get messages through to the jetboat operator and to Keith’s party to advise of a need to rearrange week 2, since the weather forecast for the next several days continued to be ... repetitively dismal.
On the walk back down the valley to Kerin Forks, we were able to keep the Fit party honest by threatening to catch them up at every rest stop ....
The jetboat trip down the ever widening Wilkin, and then up the Makarora was superb - the width of water as we sped downstream was something I had not expected - and the river was not in flood either.
So week 2 started with a couple of unscheduled nights in Wanaka while we assessed our options and waited for an especially wet day or two to pass. Many of us did a day walk to Grand View near Hawea, joined by local ATC member Sue Webb, who was doing a great job looking after Keith’s party, and advising on alternate options for our second week.
The outcome was to also traverse the Motatapu Alpine Trail at a leisurely pace of one hut per night and then camping at Macetown.
As was also the rearranged plans of a Howick TC party, who showed us up by being prepared to camp each claggy night when arriving at the huts where there were already people (us + others) in residence - nothing deliberate on our part, other than the fact that our targeted 8 am departure each day often found us on the way already, and weather conditions en route didn’t encourage us to while away the hours on the hilltops.
A feature of the Motatapu Alpine Trail is that it has some great ascents and descents ....with superb views on fine days - we saw some of these ...
Fay introduced many of us to the delights of eating the white snowberries which were ripe in profusion along the way, and then especially between Macetown and Arrowtown there were wild raspberries, gooseberries, and even strawberries to be found. Getting near the end à sunny weather !
Ian did a great job of improvising a rosewood tent pole for Tony and Hazel to replace one that had snapped.
The final day walking out to Arrowtown saw a repeat pattern - our party had gradually lost membership, so that the smaller group of Tony, Hazel, Dave and Fay were left on the ascent to Big Hill saddle, and then Dave just couldn’t stop at the saddle, leaving three of us to climb to the top of Big Hill for some great views of the Wakatipu Basin, meeting Andrew’s day trip party on the way down again.
Members of the Medium Party at various times were: Tony Walton (leader, scribe), Laurence Beard (driver), Gareth Facer, Christine Major, Anna and Ian Roberts, Dave Best, Terry Chubb, Fay Zhong, Hazel Walton, Russell Allen and Catherine Doyle.
Keith’s party similarly had a rearranged trip. In the first week they walked the Motatapu Trail northwards in claggy conditions, and on arrival were delivered to Sue Webb’s place by another local ATC exile - Rob McKay. They stayed there waiting the arrival of the rest of us, and once advised of a replan requirement, had started to research our options. By all accounts Catherine couldn’t stay still for long, being out and about on local walks very regularly. For week two Catherine decided to return south on the Motatapu, joining Andrew’s party after just a few hours, once the hut crowding situation had been assessed.
A few days after the other parties left, Keith and Jean spent a night in Meg Hut, off the Cardrona road, and then drove the bus around to Arrowtown to meet the fit party on their arrival. Keith’s party (at times) were Keith Ayton (leader, driver), Jean Barton, Marthinus Joubert & Catherine Doyle