Lake Brunner – Mt Te Kinga – 23-25 October 2021

On Saturaday of the Labour Weekend Barry and Wayne, Colin, Judy, Hazel and Veronica left Timaru for the Moana Motor Camp at Lake Brunner with the intention of Climbing Mt Te Kinga. The weather was good on the Canterbury side and we stopped for a pie at the World Famous Sheffield Pie Shop on the way over. We booked into the Moana Motor Camp then spent the afternoon trying out Hazel’s new inflatable pack rafts and Colin and Judy’s paddle boards in the lake – the water was warm and the pack rafts [actaully inflatable kayaks] were imazing – quick and easy to inflate and fun to use. After a BBQ meal we went for a short evening walk through the bush just across the Arnold River on the Rakaitane Track which was very close to the Motor Camp. The weather at Moana was good but overcast.

Next morning we woke up to an overcast day with some overnight rain. The upper half of Te Kinga, visible across an arm of the lake, was covered in cloud – looked like we wouldn’t be getting any views unless the cloud lifted – and the forecast was not looking good.

We drove over to Iveagh Bay and parked next to the lake and started our climb up Te Kinga. The DOC track in the bush along the edge of the lake was initially flat and well gravelled. After a few minutes it turned into a narrower, muddier track that started to gently climb up towards the mountain proper. As we slowly climbed up through the bush we gained height by a series of climbs with small terraces then more climbs. There were a few lookout spots with park benches along the way and we could look down on the lake and see Moana in the distance. There were a couple of windfalls from a recent strom that conceiled short parts of the track that briefly made route finding difficult. We soon climbed up into the cloud and we lost all views. The overcast day turned into a foggy day for us and as we climbed higher the temperature dropped and there was dampness in the air and we put on jackets to keep ourself warm and dry.

The DOC track time was 8 hours return for Te Kinga. After about 2.5-3 hours climbing the track started getting steeper and we started gaining height faster. After about 3-3.5 hours the bush turned into subalpine scrub which eventually turned into a mix of low subalpine and tussock. By now we were in the open, but with no visibility beyond about 50 metres. Barry was keeping track of our progress with his GPS and we were all pleased when he told us we only had about 200 metres to go. We Reached the summit marked with a DOC sign and a trig station [not the true summit – the real summit was about 1000 metres further on but was only about 100 meters higher]. Here, after 4 hours of climbing, we stopped and had a quick lunch, then due to it being cold and with no views of the surrounding countryside we started going back down the same way we came up.

Going back down was a little more difficult than going up – we all have a small slip or two on the way back down mainly on slippery tree roots. We uneventfully arrived at the car park after 8 hours – just as long as the DOC sign said it would take.

Back to the Motor Camp and after a hot shower and another good feed we prepared for the next days adventures with an early night.

Monday was overcast again – but still no real rain. We packed up and left for Mitchells on the other side of the lake. After a short drive we arrived at Carew Falls and had a short 30 minute uphill climb on a very good DOC track to the waterfall. After taking photos at the base of the falls we walked back down and drove a few metres around the bend to Mitchells – there we decided to do a short 15 minute boardwalk walk through flax wetlands beside the lake on the start of the Bain Bay Track – the walk gave good views of the lake and stopped at a sandy beach – well worth a future visit.

We then drove to Arthurs Pass – stopping at the pass itself. There we walked up the 30 minute track towards the head of the Otira River – a good, though rocky track. Lots of Mount Cook lilies out in flower at one spot. We stopped at a shingle slide that gave views of the stream ahead and had lunch while Barry went a short distance ahead to visit a new DOC bridge that spanned the Otira. Once we returned to the vehicles we headed back home. Unfortunately there had been an accident on SH1 at the Rakaia Bridge and all vehicles were diverted over the Rakaia Gorge bridges – a bottleneck developed with one of the two bridges there being one-way only – we ended up being caught up in 10km long string of holiday traffic all trying to get back home – longest queue of traffic I have seen.

Thanks to Barry for putting together a very enjoyable, varied and fun long weekend.

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