Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tararua Adventures

Tararua adventures tend to happen off the cuff, generally on those sunny weekends that just sneak up on you.

There have been a couple of goodies recently firstly a "full Waiohine" mission with Jonathan Kennett, then a nice day trip down Winchcombe ridge with Mark Hooker. Penny unfortunately is still studying, just a couple of months to go.

The Waiohine trip was great, we walked into Mitre Flats on a Friday night gossiping, then spent Saturday legging it over the tops and down the Waiohine to Mid Waiohine Hut. The final day was the best though, serious tubing down the tight, scenic gorge with plenty of adrenalin rushes available!

The Winchcombe ridge trip was great too. We started where Jonathan and I had finished the previous trip, heading up and over from the Waiohine to the top of the Tauherenikau and historic Cone Hut. From here it was straight up and around the Dress Circle, and down through the new country for me of Winchcombe ridge and the aptly named Neill.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Olivine Range

The Olivine Range trip was our end of summer extravagance. An exercise in expensive simplicity travelling to the other end of the country to immerse ourselves in some wilderness for a time.

We walked from just above Monkey Puzzle gorge on the Cascade road up a great old route up the Martyr Spur (look for the one and only track marker where you would expect it on the road). Martyr Spur is part of the ultramific belt that runs through this part of South Westland abutting the Alpine fault. The red rocks provide a startling contrast to the tussock tops.

The tarns on the tops were a picturesque place to camp with Red Mountain on the other side of the valley.

The next day we wandered up the shapely ramp to the crazy fastness of Staircase Mountain. The big surprise being the vast formations of worn bedrock as we descended to the south. A legacy of the glaciers.

The old fella was watching us, Tititea, peak of glistening white...

Our rough plan was to head south along the ridge as far as time allowed, with escapes over the ultramific belt to the Cascade river when required. The next chunk of ridge was our first obstacle and we sidled low.

Before traversing the ironic (for Wellingtonians venturing south) Tararua peak, and camping in the high basin just to its east. The colourful view from our tent door presented rainbows, sun shafts and sun sets over the Arawhata and Castor & Pollux

We had sort of contemplated Joe Peak as our turn-around point, and a worthy goal it would have been, but we were thwarted the next day by the steep ridge following Bald Mountain. A steep gap presented a possible desperate route which all things considered we declined. We headed out over the ultramific Mt Raddle...

A surprising foggy moonscape where rocks like graters lurked at the slightest wobble.

Descending to near bushline we were getting desperate for a campsite when we found a little platform which just needed a little clearing, the girls (and I) got to work and it proved a worthy spot.

All that remained was a wander down to the Cascade. We tried an orienteers route, linking up the two little creeks to Woodhen pond and it goes all right, but apparently the better route hugs the river somewhere. Suffice to say the Cascade doesn't give in easily and isn't really designed for trampers, which is all good in my books...a few pics...

A great area for a bit of off track tramping in South Westland!