Cameron Hut (Makarora Region) Easter Trip 3rd – 5th April
Our Easter journey (adventure) started on Friday when we headed down to Makarora to start our walk into the Cameron Valley on Saturday. After a brief stop at Omarama and as we were about to head off the car wouldn’t start. Omarama proved to be a convenient place for a car to breakdown with thought that this could have happened further down the road at some remote carpark. Times like this is when you are so grateful for being an AA member.
After ringing the AA the man was there within 30 minutes and soon had the problem diagnosed as a dead cell in the battery. I was amazed this could happen so suddenly specially after driving the car that far and then for it to die so quickly. Luck was in our favour as he owned the garage over the road. This meant that a new battery was available and fitted so within a short time we were on the road again.
We arrived at Makarora mid-afternoon and checked in at the backpackers. We then drove further down the road and did the short walk into the blue pools which are a lovely turquoise blue. We were even able to spot a trout swimming up steam. We continued walking further down the track in amongst beech and some open country for another hour towards the Young valley before we turned back to walk back to our vehicle before it got dark.
There was a little rain overnight but mostly cloudy with occasional drizzly moments for a couple of moments on our walk. It was a short drive to the start of the Cameron Valley track where we left the car. For the first 15 mins the track was well benched and we were walking in amongst beech trees to a lookout point down the valley. After this the track changed and narrowed. From here it was a steady gradual climb following the well-marked track which was quite slippery with lots of tree roots and wet slippery rocks to negotiate. Soon we were looking down onto a spectacular gorge as we sidled around and above towering bluffs. (Not for the faint hearted as there were huge drop offs below). It didn’t take long to work up a sweat. We scrambled over a large slip and had a lunch stop down by the river. Soon we were back in the bush and the track had many up and downs with only 1 river crossing involved where we linked up as it had quite a steady fast flow with slippery rocks on the bottom. In the bush there were several old huge Matai trees, lots of lovely mosses and quite few bright purple toadstools. The first hour of the track was probably the most difficult due to the slippery rocks and tree roots that you had to be continually watching where you put your feet. The gorge was impressive with its huge and sheer rock walls and deep blue pools. While in the bush we heard a helicopter fly over us about an hour before we got to the hut. This was to be the two hunters who we were to share the hut with for the next couple of nights, and were to be there for the whole week. After 5 hours of walking we arrived at the hut.
Cameron hut is a 4 bunk old deer cullers hut built in 1960. It had recently been done up with a new roof and relined with ply inside. The character had still been maintained. It sits on a lovely grassy flat by the river catching the all-day sun. Behind it are two large waterfalls and dense bush across the river and behind it. The country is rugged and vegetation dense and closed in with only the tops open.
As we were staying here for the next 2 nights we set up our tents and Christine stayed in the hut with the hunters. It was a full moon that night and as it appeared from behind the hills you would have sworn someone was shining a torch in your tent. The night sky looked amazing as I peered out of my tent and viewed the many stars above and the Southern Cross stood out. We chose not to turn our clocks back that weekend till we got back to our cars on Monday.
Sunday we had a leisurely start as daylight arrived. We explored around the hut by walking up the river gorge, with some bush bashing and without haven’t to get too wet until we could go no further. We headed back towards the hut then decided to climb up through the bush at the back of the hut to get above the waterfalls and gain some good views of the surrounding country as we were more out in the open. We found a nice opening just out of the bush where we stopped to relax and take in the views and appreciate the beauty around us. After some time we headed back down through the bush to the hut. It had been an enjoyable day which we soon filled in with our exploring the area. The hunters returned after their day’s excursion, one with a chamois. There was very little sign of any animals or pests in the area. There was some bird life but not a great lot. We saw fantails, tomtits, riflemen and heard keas but didn’t see them. Apparently there will be a 1080 drop in the area soon but had been cancelled a few weeks ago due to wet weather.
Monday we were up soon after 7 and packing up. By 8.20 we were on the track for the walk back out to our car. We made good progress along the track on the way out. We noted that the terrain closer to the hut was easier going with less tree roots although it was undulating with the later part of the track a bit trickier and requiring care as it was still quite slippery. The river where we had our crossing had dropped a lot on the way out and the flow in it wasn’t as swift. It took us about 4 and a half hours to walk out and at the last part we saw a couple of people about to walk into the lookout (a 30minute walk), other than that we only saw the 2 hunters and had Cameron valley to ourselves.
For me some of the weekend highlights were the spectacular gorge, variety of mosses along the track, huge old matai’s, clear starry night and full moon, and old quaint hut.
Thanks Christine and Barry for your company and sharing this part of the country with me.