1-4 Jan 2016
I think this was plan D. We abandoned plans A, B and C as the weather gods fiddled with their isobars. We camped near Twizel on new-year’s eve, then staggered up Freehold Creek the next day. As the tussock basins opened out, we turned leftish, hunting for the big tarn at 1514 m. After a long day, we were pleased to find a good camp spot on the shoreline of this attractive tarn—a better campsite, we thought, than the one at Lake Dumbbell, which would make a nice return day trip from here. The next day we completed a tops circuit of the cirque above our tarn, giving good views of the Barrier Range to the west, including Mt St Mary. The following breakfast was cut short by incoming rain so we rapidly packed up and headed down to join the marker poles along Te Araroa, heading down into the treeless East Ahuriri.
Steady cold rain discouraged dawdling. It’s pretty easy country, but several crossings of the river were needed. Eventually we started scanning the valley floor for the old East Ahuriri Hut, hoping that it might still have a roof… When we finally arrived, we were pleased to see it has been spruced up a bit and is weatherproof, although it only has two useable bunks and no fireplace. Applying dry socks to one end of the body and hot soup to the other soon restored the will to live. As the evening light slowly faded, two Americans arrived, then a lone and slightly chilly Swiss woman, all heading north up Te Araroa. Four of us slept in tents while the others snuggled in among the wet parkas, socks and gloves in the hut.
Blue skies and a fresh coating of snow on the tops greeted our final morning. We angled up, then along, before dropping down to the Quailburn Saddle. From there it’s just a short hike through bush to the road end, but there has been massive recent windfall here, so we were pleased that DoC had been through with chainsaws. We’d left a bike at the old woolshed, so while the lazy ones sunbathed, Chris peddled back along the A2O trail to collect our car. All up, a fun trip to a place we’d not been before. Those who survived were:
Margaret Clark, Ann Schofield, Christine Leaver, and Graham Townsend. (GT)