Another NZ Ramble.

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Another NZ Ramble.

Postby kanangra » Wed 05 Nov, 2014 8:30 am

Well we're back after a rather wet weekend in NZ. We did get an hour of sunshine on Friday but apart from that it was overcast with rain, sleet, hail, snow and gale force winds. Your typical West Coast of the South Island conditions really. The trip started out well enough with us arriving at the top of Browning Pass on the main divide of the Southern Alps a day and a half in as planned. However one look over the lip of the cornice at the near vertical snow and ice face beneath was enough for me to call off our intended three passes traverse. One slip would have been fatal and without ropes, ice axe and crampons I was not prepared to risk it. Conditions were more suited to ice skating than walking as this photo of Lake Browning shows.

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Lake Browning.


I will post more pics and give more details when I get a chance.

K.
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Re: Another NZ Ramble.

Postby kanangra » Wed 12 Nov, 2014 4:07 pm

We landed in Ch. Ch. and caught the morning flight across to Hokatika on the West Coast of the South Island. It was overcast and drizzling on our arrival. By arrangement we caught a taxi out to the trail head at a cost of $75. By 10:30AM we were right to go. It started raining just as we set off; an ominous sign?

The track begins by following a farm track across grazing land beside the Styx River. After about half an hour this ends abruptly at a large slip. The river was too high to cross and so we made our way gingerly along the foot of the vertical gravel and shingle wall. Fortunately the water only came up waist height.

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A wet start to our trip.


The grassy flats soon recede as the valley closes in.

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The Styx River


Our way of route follows an old miner's pack track which, where it still exists, provides a good benched track.

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The old miners track


Fortunately the track stays on the true right bank the whole way because I wouldn't have liked to try and cross the river.

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The Styx River


Even some of the larger side streams were quite problematic but we managed. After a few hours we came to a spot where for the first time we had a view up towards the head of the valley.

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Styx River valley. The Grassy Flats Hut is near the foot of the mountain in the middle of the picture.


Around here we passed the turn off to Mid Styx Hut but didn't like the look of the ford so decided against that side trip. Not long after that the track climbed very high to avoid a large slip but apart from that generally ran close to the river.

After about 4 and a half hours we burst out onto the Grassy Flats.

TBC

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Re: Another NZ Ramble.

Postby icefest » Wed 12 Nov, 2014 4:18 pm

That shingle wall traverse looks unpleasant... but a great walk nontheless
Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful.
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Re: Another NZ Ramble.

Postby wayno » Thu 13 Nov, 2014 4:16 am

i got swept down a flooded river doing something identical to walking along the shingle wall in a river, if you cant see your feet and you're near your depth limit and you step into a hole. you're history and the current will do what it wants with you. i was lucky, the river eased off after half an hour and i was able to get out... NZ rivers kill people every year. if in doubt either wait to see if the river drops . or plan another route...
from the land of the long white clouds...

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Re: Another NZ Ramble.

Postby kanangra » Mon 24 Nov, 2014 2:00 pm

Here is our first view of the grassy flats in the upper Styx valley.

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Grassy Flats. the Styx saddle is around the corner in the middle of the photo.


The hut is on the other side of the river which necessitated a crossing.

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Crossing the Styx.


Shortly after the hut came into view.

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Grassy Flats Hut


It is one of the modern designs which are fully lined and very comfortable.

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Hut interior.


After a lengthy lunch we set off for the Styx saddle.

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Track across the Grassy Flats heading for Styx saddle.


TBC
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Re: Another NZ Ramble.

Postby kanangra » Wed 26 Nov, 2014 11:26 am

The track up to the saddle follows a fairly even grade which whilst fairly constant is not that steep. Here is the view from the saddle which is broad and swampy.

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Styx Saddle


On the rock which is just visible in the middle of the photo and which marks the crest of the saddle is a memorial plaque to three men who lost their lives in a plane crash in the area.

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Memorial plaque on Styx Saddle.


Once across the saddle the views into the Arahura Valley on the other side start to open up.

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View from Styx Saddle of the Arahura Valley.


Once below the tree line there is a 3 way track junction. As a matter of interest even I found these travel times difficult to achieve.

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Signpost. NB the Stoat trap at bottom of photo. There was a baited stoat line right along the valley with several traps sprung.


We took the left fork as our destination for the night was Mudflats Hut on the Arahura. A short way down the track views back up the valley began to open up.

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View into the Upper Arahura Valley.


From where we stood it was hard to work out where the track up to Harman Hut would go? Tomorrow we would find out that in the vicinity of the hut both the Arahura and Harman Rivers travel through very narrow slit gorges near their junction which both cut through the low ridge in the middle distance that seems to form a barrier.

TBC
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Re: Another NZ Ramble.

Postby icefest » Thu 27 Nov, 2014 7:33 am

Thanks for posting your trip reports Kanagra!
Always a nice read (and the photos....)
Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful.
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Re: Another NZ Ramble.

Postby kanangra » Thu 27 Nov, 2014 8:39 am

Thanks Icefest. Even though we didn't accomplish our objective I really enjoyed this trip.

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