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Heels 1965

Chronical of Matukituki? Dart - Hollyford. Christmas 1964

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Chronical of Matukituki? Dart - Hollyford. Christmas 1964.

Our plans were most ambitious. In sixteen days we hoped to travel the length of the Matukituki, Dart, Beans Burn, Olivine, Pyke, and Hollyford Valleys and climb peaks in the Matukituki area. However, for long before we left John had emphasised that this was the plan end not the trip which might be quite different.

Three of us left Wellington on Christmas day, met Collin in Christchurch, and had a fast bus trip to Wanaka on 26th. From there, for the sum of five pounds, we were whisked up the Matukituki Valley about thirty miles in a ten-seater taxi. Our first night was spent in the open about twenty minutes above the end of the road. We moved on early the next morning and as the weights of our packs (John claimed his weighed 77 pounds) discouraged going upwards, we attempted to establish a low level route around a bluff near Casoade Hut. I found it most exhilerating carrying a 70 pound pack up a vertical bank 100 feet above a raging torrent, with only stunted bracken to hang on to. When we reached Aspiring Lodge, at that time occupied by hordes of Tongue & Meats, we cached about 11 days' food and set off for a few days' climbing in the Upper Matukituki. But such was not to be for on the west side of the river we decided that the weather was insufficiently perfect and on the East we heard stories of over-crowding in French Ridge Bivvy aue to more hordes of T. & M.s waiting to climb Mount Aspiring. So all we did was climb to Liverpool Bivvy, just above the bush line (where we were warmly welcomed by four T. & Mrs) and later made an assault on Hectors Col at the head of the river. This was the only time on the trip that we used our crampons. When we got back to Aspiring Lodge we found that the Hut Custodian had arrived and Hordes of T. & M. s were camped outside, possibly because it was 6 shillings per night cheaper.

The longest, hottest, hardest day of the trip was the 29th when we climbed up and up (and up) out of the Matukituki onto Cascade Saddle. It took us an exhausting, steep, but very scenic, 6 hours to reach the highest point (c. 5500 feet) from where we crossed a snowy basin to finish up scrambling down a lateral moraine of the Dart Glacier. We had hoped to reach Dart Hut but after twelve hours tramping we had all had enough so we slept about half an hour above the hut.

The journey down the Dart took up the next three days. On 2nd January we tried to cross the mighty river to get to the Beans Burn whence to the Olivine. The river was waist deep, very swift, very cold, and very wide, and we were freezingly obliged to accept defeat about half way across.

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In a way this meant the end of one trip and the start of another because it was necessary to go right down to Glenorchy to get a boat across the head of Lake Wakatipu. The storekeeper there was very helpful to us and in return we were helpful to him, purchasing ice-cream, sausages, ready-mixed steam pudding, and stocking up on bread, butter, cheese, and honey. It almost seemed as if we were hungry!

On the next day we became tourists rather than trampers, taking a launch across the lake and a bus up to the Routeburn Valley where we could start tramping again. We followed a well-graded track up to the Routeburn Huts where we struck the first significent amount of rain on our trip, and also hut overcrowding again. For the next two days the weather was clearer and we made our way over the Harris Saddle and down the Hollyford Valley to Lake McKerrow. At the head of Lake McKerrow there are two huts, one a derelict shelter and the other a brand new sandfly-proof roomy mansion-type park Board Hut. The old hut was on the river side and the new hut was on an island in the Hollyford River, which was unfordable at that place on that particular day. Problem? Not at all. Earlier on the same day we had met some Auckland trampers who had borrowed (by cutting through a chain) an eleven foot fibreglass dinghy belonging to the National Park Board in order to prevent themselves being marooned on the island and they had told us where they had hidden the boat on the mainland. The boat was duly found and used. I did the rowing and was glad when the three trips across the river were completed for the river threatened all the time to sweep the boat and cargo down over rocky rapids if the oarsman slacked off his furious pace The hard work was certainly worth it, for about that time it started to rain hard. The rain continued all that night, all the next day, all the next night, and on the morning after that it was still pouring down. It then became obvious that we could not hope to complete oar proposed trip to the coast returning via the Pyke River because of the state that all the side-streams would be in alter all the rain. So we abandoned the comfortable McKerrow Hut, struggled back to the mainland in the boat, and returned I to the Hollyford Road by the same track as we had come.

All that remained then as the 500 mile hitch-hike back to Christchurch and the boat trip to Wellington where we arrived on January 10th.

The benefits of such a trip as this are numerous. It is a glorious Christmas holiday, it is the best way to see the scenic wonders of New Zealand, it gives a great feeling of independence, and it is the ideal way to lose weight.

T. C.

Party: John Rhodes (leader), Colin Smyth, Alan Radcliffe, and Tom Clarkson.