27th Dec was the day when a large group of NSTC members descended on Queenstown Airport for the start of the clubs annual Christmas trip.
Forming into groups we headed off in various directions with 4 parties to begin tramping that day. The Mt Titiroa North and South parties plus the home party travelled to Manapouri Motels where the home party would be based. After offloading the bags that were to remain the 6 Titiroa Southbound party members, Bernard, Anthony, Monika, Jan, Karen and Garry hopped into a van for a quick trip to Pearl Harbour to meet the boat to ferry us across the river. This turned out to be a dinghy so two ferry trips were made.
3pm, we are all set and head to Hope Arm Hut about 3hrs away. A lovely track which dipped down to the lake a few times and provided some amusement when we had to cross a small river using fallen trees. We reached the hut around 6pm and were promptly greeted by lots of sandflys.
We woke to a cracker of a day and at 8am started out to Garnock Burn, thus begun the uphill climb which was to continue for most of the day. After heading over a “small” hump/hill we reached the river. Taking a short break, we crossed Garnock Burn filling our boots and headed up the Mountain. As there was no official track, we chose a likely spot and started climbing through the bush. Before long someone pointed out there was orange tape tied to trees, great news as we knew that someone else at least had been crazy enough to head in the same direction we were going.
A bit of a scramble and we reached the bush line around 2:30pm where we stopped and admired the amazing views. Then it was up through tussock onto the white sandy surface of the Mountain. More great views of the valleys and hills on the other side of the ridge with the most incredible bolder sculptures including several balanced on top of one another. A light but steady breeze was blowing as we climbed higher up the never ending ridge.
Eventually we reached the point where we could cut across to our campsite for the night, the Tarn at point 1412. Looked at the time and saw it was nearly 6pm no wonder we were all feeling tired. The wind had picked up which made for an interesting time putting up the tents. As a large gust ripped through the campsite, pegs were ripped from the ground and flew in all directions nearly impaling fellow trampers. One tent decided to take flight and soared up the ridge. We held our breath, and our tents, as it went higher and higher, expecting it to disappear never to be seen again. Thankfully the wind dropped and it was able to be retrieved. Bigger rocks were then found for the pegs. Tents up, cooking became the next challenge and there was lots of huddling between the rocks to keep the stoves from blowing out. It was getting quite cold as everyone crawled into their tents and as we lay there the wind really decided to pick up, blowing from every direction. Not a lot of sleep that night.
“Awoke” to a beautiful clear morning but windy and cold. We were all surprised the tents survived the night. Once again huddling in the rocks breakfast was sorted, then carefully taking the tents down we got ready for the next leg – The Summit!
9am, ready to start walking, the cloud dropped and we were unable to see much of anything. Luckily a few ideas were put forward earlier and we set off alongside a little stream coming down from above. Along the way fun was had playing in the snow and as the mist swirled around us with the unusual rock formations it all seemed quite surreal. Some careful negotiating around some boulders brought us to the summit at 10:30am, which was marked by some pipe in the ground. It was pointed out that there was another rock nearby which stood a bit higher than the official summit so this of course had to be scaled by a certain party member.
It was decided to continue along main ridge towards point 1581 where we were to drop down. Making good progress along the main ridge we spotted people below us in the distance. As we moved further along, we confirmed it was the North Bound party and called out to them. I think they were a bit surprised to see us above them. We then stopped for lunch before continuing on to point 1537 where it looked quite tricky and with the wind picking up could be dangerous trying to get over the rocky bluff. Because of this we dropped down off the main ridge to the west, towards a set of tarns we could see near the bush line.
After a careful descent we arrived at the Tarns about 3:30pm and looked for a spot to set the tents up. Because of the nearby ridge we hoped we would be out of the wind but no it swirled around and seemed as strong as it was on the previous night. Managing to get the tents up we were able to relax until dinner was started. The wind picked up about 6 and once again made cooking difficult and again very little sleep was had. There were two tent casualties that night.
Next day, 9am and a lovely bush bash to start the day. Which in Jan’s words made Bernard look like he had been fighting a Gorilla. After about an hour and a half of pushing through the Bog Pine, a deer trail was found, which thankfully led us down to the valley floor and the North Branch of the Borland Burn. It was a relief to be out of the wind walking alongside the river with the sun shining and not having to force our way through the bush, so everyone was in great spirits as we arrived at North Borland hut for a long lunch. After which there were a few naps.
Lunch / naps over we headed on to the Rock Biv. This turned out to be a massive overhang in a huge boulder with a sleeping platform built beneath. The sandflys soon put any ideas of sleeping on the platform to rest, with 4 of us electing to set up our tents. One person disappearing into theirs as soon as it was up, not to be seen again until the next morning. We were soon visited by a couple of inquisitive Robins who proceeded to poke their beaks into everything looking for insects and sandflys. During the night there was a commotion as one of the two sleeping on the platform broke and decided to put up their tent, the other had wisely rolled themselves into their tent inner. No Wind! So nice.
Using the dunny at the biv was an interesting exercise with a large hole in the floor and a log precariously placed for a user to stand on.
Our last day and we had a leisurely walk, stopping to admire the various fungi and plants along the way. The Mistletoe in the trees were putting on an incredible display with large sprays in full bloom with lovely red flowers, winding their way through the treetops. We arrived at Borland Lodge about 12:30 where the owners very kindly let us use their facilities, which allowed us to escape the sandflys, while waiting for our pickup. Many thanks to Roger for organising, to Gillian and Neil for transporting us around and to my party for such an enjoyable trip.