Te Araroa Trail – Glenariffe Station to Castleridge Station
Sunday 20th November – Tuesday 22nd November 2016
Northbound Party: Rob Birks, Leo Garmonsway.
Southbound Party: Jim Pearce, John Hyland, Stephen Keach.
Starting out from our comfortable backpackers in Methven on Sunday morning, one carload went up the Rakaia Valley to Glenrock Stream, the other car headed up the Ashburton Gorge to Castleridge Station. Both parties had a straightforward day’s tramping. The southbound party began with a steep climb onto the 1,120m Turtons Saddle, then a long descent to Comyns Hut. The northbound party had a gentle climb over the 963m Emily Hill and then down to Double Hut, meeting a couple of solo Te Araroa trampers en route, an Irishman and a German called Daniel.
An early start for the northbounders next morning, climbing to the 1,480m Clent Hills Saddle. This was a frustratingly long haul, basically following old indistinct fence lines through waist-high tussock and screes higher up. A difficult route to follow if the weather was misty, but we had clear and windy conditions throughout. Lunch on the saddle, then ten minutes on the descent we met the other party who again were enjoying lunch. After swapping keys and eating Christmas cake together, we continued down into Round Hill Creek. At first this was reasonably easy going, but as we descended the water volume and river current increased and with multiple crossings necessary, each got progressively more difficult. Added to this, Leo’s gaiters weren’t performing, so multiple stops to remove stones were required. The alternative was to stay on the river banks, but the matagouri soon made this impractical, so it was a long and frustratingly slow afternoon. An old fence strung across the river was a welcome sign that Comyns Hut was approaching.
The next morning started with a long steady haul up to Turtons Saddle, then a quick descent through farmland to the Double Hill Run Road where the car was awaiting. A drive to Methven, lunch, an unsuccessful attempt to replace Leo’s gaiters, then onto Peel Forest where we stayed at the Deans’ Peel Forest Farmstay (highly recommended). We also met up with our German friend, Daniel, who recounted his experiences in Bush Stream, our intended next destination. Trying to cross on his own, he was washed off his feet and carried 50 metres downstream, losing his walking poles. A change of plan for us therefore, missing out Mesopotamia to instead drive to Lake Tekapo for a round trip including Royal Hut.
Sunday 20th November.
John and Jim ascending the four-wheel drive track to the 1,120m Turtons Saddle from Glenariffe Station in the Palmer Range.
The Rakaia River, 525m Woolshed Hill, Wilberforce River, 1,633m Mt Oakden and the Birdwood Range are in the background.
Monday 21st November.
Jim and John fording Round Hill Creek in the Taylor Range on Te Araroa ascending to the 1,480, Clent Hills Saddle.
Monday 21st November.
Jim and John cross a wide scree slope in the Taylor Range on Te Araroa descending from the 1,480m Clent Hills Saddle.
Background: The 1,054m Longman Range, 1,014m Ricki Spur, South Branch Ashburton/Hakatere River valley and Wild Mans Brother Range.
Tuesday 22nd November.
Jim and John walking the four-wheel drive track on Castleridge Station following Te Araroa west of Lake Emily, with the local woolly inhabitants not keen to make acquaintance.