Friday, July 13, 2018

Bat Roost Trees, Pleasant Point Domain

Sat 14.07.18. I live on Afghan St, diagonally opp Pleasant Point domain, which includes sports fields, camping ground & a pleasant walk around part of the golf course beneath a mix of mature, exotic trees & native trees. The circular walk from my home takes about half an hour.

Last week when I did my circuit round the golf course, I saw 3 mature, exotic trees, including 2 redwoods, along the path, which had anti-predator, metal sleeves hammered onto the boles & above each anti-predator sleeve, a round disk reading:

Bat Roost Tree. Protected under the Wildlife Act 1953.

As there were native trees & shrubs growing beneath the exotics, like pittosporums & cabbage trees, it was daft that only exotic trees were used as roosts. Bat roosts were wishful thinking, as there was no bat crap beneath any domain trees, including the so-called Bat Roost Trees. The only crap I saw below trees was bird crap signified by feathers fallen from nests.

Perhaps Council & DOC could be proactive & plant more natives like totara, matai & kahikatea as potential Bat Roost Trees.

Geraldine, another South Canterbury town, about 25 kms away, boasted on their tourist, toilet murals about being the home of the NZ long tailed bat, Chalinolobus tuberculatus.

Today, I did my circuit around Pleasant Point domain & looked out for the long tailed bats roosting in the Bat Roost Trees during mid afternoon, bat roost time. Not a single bat was seen!

In future, if I see any bats I'll keep you posted...

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

See Long Tailed Bat (DOC).

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Mt Oxford Climbs, Email Exchange

Email exchange with JK, a Christchurch engineer, about permissions from local farmers for walkers to cross their private land up Mt Oxford.

JK's email:

Hi Mark,

I have recently read your Woza Wanderer blog post of the Mt Oxford summit via Big Ben Saddle from 2010. [See Mt Oxford Summit via Big Ben Saddle and Ashley Saddle].

Thanks for putting in the effort for such a detailed write up.

I was wondering if you could point me in the right direction for gaining access to these areas?

You mentioned getting permission to pass through private properties that this route used. Do you know who these landowners are and / or their contact details?

I can't seem to find any information about who owns the land and the only other option I can think of is to drive there and do some investigating in person.

Any help is much appreciated.

Thanks,

JK.

My email reply:

Hi JK,

Your instinct to drive there & check out things yourself is best. If I do a mountain walk / climb in potentially dangerous, isolated places, I first recce the walk / climb with maps, binoculars & scout the area first to prep my walk in favourable weather. I watch TV weather forecasts like a hawk, before I do the walk / climb, ensuring I go in good weather.

I used general road maps to drive to Mt Oxford, quite easy from Christchurch, or Oxford village. Topo50 maps can be bought from various shops, especially in tourist areas, which give detailed topography of a specific area. Topo50 maps cost about $8-10 each, depending on where you buy. Going up Mt Oxford is OK from Coopers Creek carpark, no permission needed, if you stick to the marked / pole route, but if you go off track it is advisable to find the farmer who owns the land & ask. Easier said than done.

I don't know the farmers in the Oxford area, so I just did the walk you asked about & tried my luck. Once, I got through to Big Ben Saddle & Ashley Saddle, no problem. The next time I went, I was stopped by a forestry worker, but he let me continue after I explained what I was up to. If you're nervous about farmers / land owners, ask at town Info offices, who could give you advice about farmers' permissions. Info boards in town centres also give good advice about available walks. DOC parks are good too, with permanent map boards & poled walks.

A locator beacon can be bought / hired from a reputable dealer, in case you have an accident, or have crap weather & need rescuing. I don't have a locator beacon, as they are costly to buy & hire. I let family know where I am going, with my intended walk / climb drawn or marked on a map given to my family before I leave. [Just in case.] I try to text family en route on my walk / climb. Valleys usually have lousy cell / text coverage. Mt tops or ridges, cell / text coverage is better, but not guaranteed, depending on how remote your position is.

Find out about hunting season months, like now in winter, you don't want to be accidentally shot! Best walking months are warm, summer months (after hunting season closes) Nov-Mar incl. Farmers usually don't like walkers on their  properties while hunters are there - too much chance of a shooting accident!

Good luck. Go well & stay safe.

Regards,

Mark JS Esslemont.

Not mentioned in my email reply: Farmers don't want walkers (or dogs) on their property disturbing sheep during lambing season, nor during mustering, like autumn mustering.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.


Thursday, December 7, 2017

Misty Mount Nimrod, Hunters Hills

Wednesday 06.12.17.  At sparrows' I drove 35 kms from Pleasant Point to DOC's Mt Nimrod Scenic Reserve via Cave, Cannington & below Hunters Hills by Back Line Rd, the last 9 kms gravel road. Close to White Rock River, a wallaby bounced across the gravel, surprised during its dawn water quest.

After scorching summer days, a misty morn, I tried to text Leah to tell her I was on my way. No luck, Mt Nimrod Scenic Reserve campsite, at 400 m height, had no cell coverage. I would try higher up. I tried to text Leah at the beginning & during my tramps for safety & progress reasons. I left her with a Topo50 map with my intentions, just in case. Having climbed Rollesby Range, Dalgety Range & Grampian Range over the last 5 weeks, I hadn't seen a soul on my climbs, just flora, fauna & grand Alpine views.

Today would be different due to misty Mt Nimrod. For an hour I climbed the steep zig-zag track for about 1 km, through native bush in the Nimrod Stream gorge. The going was humid & slippery over wet rocks & leaf litter. Dominant trees were Melicytus ramiflorus whiteywood with some Fuchsia excorticata & Griselinia littoralis broadleafs. Understorey: mainly ferns & vines, like Ripogonum scandens supplejack & Rubus cissoides bush lawyer. On the way up, I surprised another wallaby which stopped, having a good look at me before vanishing into bush. At the top of Mt Nimrod Scenic Reserve track, bush diversified into Leptospermum scoparium manuka, tussocks, Phormium flax, Astelias & Dracophyllum.

At the top of Mt Nimrod Scenic Reserve track, DOC recently made a new track by a farm fence, joining at a new DOC gate the recently opened 5 km Hunters Hills Conservation Track, an easement through tussock grassland along Hunters Hills farm tracks to the Hunters Hills Conservation Area including Mt Nimrod, 1525 m & extending NW almost to Mt Nessing summit, 1601 m. The easement was part of a maze of farm tracks criss-crossing Hunters Hills.

At the start of the easement track, on a new DOC gate & a farm fence, contradictory DOC & police signs said:

Dept of Conservation
Te Papa Atawhai

Public access through
       private land

No firearms to be carried
Keep to marked access
Please leave gates as found
Do not disturb stock

                Police Support
           Safer Communities

Persons are advised this property is
Listed as a member on the national
          Anti-poaching register.
All persons entering must obtain
Permission from the landowner or
      Occupier before entering or
             Face prosecution.

                                    Police     

The easement track sidled past Hunters Hills tops in the mist, which obliterated views. I passed through 4 new DOC gates, visibility about 50 m, often less. Farm gates & other farm track signs said:

PRIVATE PROPERTY
       NO ACCESS

Alpine flora: Tussock grassland converted to farm grassland in places, associated with Discaria toumatou matagouri, Celmisia daisies, Gaultheria snowberries, Dracophyllum, Aciphylla speargrass, lichens, Scleranthus, Donatia, Cyathodes & sphagnum moss mats.

It took me 2 hours wandering up the 5 km easement track, well marked with DOC marker poles, except after the 4th DOC gate on a saddle where DOC marker poles weren't close enough to see in the mist. I wandered downhill on a farm track until I realised I'd run out of marker poles & slogged uphill again. (Hint: More marker poles near saddles DOC, or else I wouldn't be the only tramper lost in the mist!) 

Near the end of the easement track at about 800 m height when the mist lifted over Francis Stream Valley, 3 older gents passed me going fast. They each had the usual trampers' gear: map, boots, gaiters, shorts, shirt, jacket, water bottles in backpack pouches, hat, aluminium walking sticks. Camera & binoculars optional. By another DOC gate at Francis Stream I refilled my water bottle. During the 3 hours I wandered Hunters Hills Conservation area I saw no DOC marker poles, but enjoyed alpine flora.

After crossing Francis Stream the 3 older gents sidled around the NW end of Mt Nimrod, into the mist. Non competitive, I followed at a more leisurely pace, climbing the misty, stony track for 2 hours to about 1200 m height.

I stopped for lunch by lichen covered rocks in the mist. I texted Leah, no problem at 1200 m. Although my Topo50 map said I was on Mt Nimrod NW ridge, roiling mist obscured Mt Nimrod summit completely. Although I'd climbed through mist for 5 hours, I wasn't cold. Noon sun shone thorough mist, causing sunburn.

I was high on adrenalin & endorphins. I returned from whence I came. No good summiting misty Mt Nimrod without any views. On my way back the mist lifted a bit, so I saw some pointy Hunters Hills, steep valleys, Nimrod Stream & the farm track maze. Due to mist, I never saw Mt Nimrod summit that day.

Stats:

Climb: 800 vertical metres.

Total return distance: 16 kms.

Included one way: 1 km bush track, DOC Mt Nimrod Scenic Reserve.
5 km DOC easement track to DOC Hunters Hills Conservation Area.
2 km to 1200 m height NW track up Mt Nimrod.

Total time: 9 hours (excluding lunch).

Time included:

1 hour up Mt Nimrod Scenic Reserve bush track.
2 hours up DOC easement track from Mt Nimrod Scenic Reserve to DOC Hunters Hills Conservation Area.
2 hours from Francis Stream up to 1200 m, Mt Nimrod NW side.
1 hour down from Mt Nimrod NW side, 1200 m to Francis Stream.
3 hours down DOC easement track & Mt Nimrod Scenic Reserve track to DOC campsite.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Mt Dalgety Summit, Mackenzie Country

Thursday 23.11.17. I drove SH8 from Pleasant Point to the top of Hakataramea Pass, 965 m, via Albury, Fairlie, Burkes Pass, Dog Kennel Corner, Haldon Rd, Hakataramea Pass Rd, as I wanted to summit Mt Dalgety, 1752 m. Map ref: BZ17 088921.

Road distances:

* Pleasant Point SH8 tarseal to Dog Kennel Corner turnoff to Haldon Rd: 74 kms.
* Haldon Rd tarseal past Rollesby Range & Dalgety Range to Hakataramea Pass Rd turnoff: 16 kms.
* Hakataramea Pass Rd gravel road over 4 fords past Dalgety Range & Grampian Range to top of Hakataramea pass: 16 kms.

Last Wednesday I'd summitted Grampian Range. Since then, Mackenzie Council had graded Hakataramea Pass Rd, so ruts & potholes were smoothed over.

I parked my car near a closed gate at the top of Hakataramea Pass. There was no track to the top of Mt Dalgety marked on my Topo50 map, so I hopped over a fence & followed another fence E up a tussock ridge to about 1200 m where the fence took a sharp turn N. En route a ram had hung itself by entwining three of its legs amongst top 3 wires of the fence. It hung dessicated by Alpine winds & sun. A horrible way to die with views of Dalgety ridges & valleys each side & Grampian Range W the other side of Hakataramea Pass.

I left the fence & continued climbing, following goat tracks where possible through more tussock, Spaniards & Alpine plants. Notable were Gaultheria snowberries, Celmisia sessiliflora, orange & green Scleranthus, minute Hebes, like whipcord hebes, mat broom & coral broom, Carmichaelia genus. Coral brooms & mat brooms were stunted, foraged by ungulates. I passed a  host of cushion plants on my way up, including Haastia vegetable sheep & Raoulia scabweed covering rocks. There was also Hieracium hawkweed all the way to the top, ravages of over a century of Alpine sheep farming.

On my way up, a series of giant steps up the ridge, I passed several rocky outcrops, vertical ancient sediments, with wind funnels above & below the rocky outcrops. A windless, sunny morn, I had no wind hassles, but had to drink lots of bottled water, stopping dehydration. I saw a bull tahr trotting over scree, hiding behind the ridge. He wore a magnificent, white mane below his backward pointing horns. Other fauna seen: brown skinks scurrying over hot rocks, brown grasshoppers, flies pollinating alpine plants, ladybugs hunting on Donatia hard cushions, a couple of seagulls short-cutting over Haka Pass from Snowy River Valley to Hakataramea Valley.

I didn't stay long on Dalgety summit rocks as I was pestered by flies sucking my sweat. After snapping pics, I sat near the bottom of Dalgety summit rocks, admiring Alpine views & scoffing my lunch - scroggin, biltong, mandarins, water. Views:

NE Rocky outcrops, Dalgety summit ridge to Rollesby Range & beyond to Hall Range incl Mt Haszard & Mistake Peak above Godley River Valley. Snowy Mt Erebus & Sibbald Range prominent. Snowy Two Thumbs Range incl D'Achiac peak, Mt Chevalier, Mt Edward, Mt Dobson prominent. Snowy Sherwood Range & Mt Fox prominent.
ENE Albury Range.
E beyond Hakataramea River, Mt Nessing.
S Rocky outcrops, Dalgety summit ridge, Mt Nimrod, Hunters Hills, Hakataramea Valley.
SSW Hakataramea Valley, Kirkliston Range.
W Hakataramea Pass, Grampian Range.
NW Mary Range, Lake Pukaki & beyond to snowy Ben Ohau Range, Mackenzie Peak, Dun Fiunary, Glentanner Peak, Mt Sealy prominent
NNW snowy Mt Sefton & Footstool prominent.
N Snowy River Valley, Lake Tekapo, Mt John, Fork River Valley, snowy Mt Stevenson & beyond to snowy La Perouse, Mt Cook, Mt Tasman prominent.
NNE Mt Joseph, Cass River Valley, snowy Gammack Range, snowy Malte Brun prominent.

Stats:

Climb: 800 vertical metres from Hakataramea Pass top to Mt Dalgety summit.
Return distance: 7 kms.
Times: Ascent 3.75 hours. Descent 2.75 hours. A long day.

Essentials: Tramping, hill walking fitness, backpack, map, sturdy shoes, all weather gear, sunglasses, walking stick(s), food, water. Cell phone coverage if cell pointed to Mt John.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Grampian Range Summit, Mackenzie Country

Wednesday 15.11.17. I drove SH8 from Pleasant Point to Hakataramea Pass via Albury, Fairlie, Burkes Pass, Dog Kennel Corner & Haldon Rd, as I wanted to summit Grampian Range, 1921 m. (Map ref: BZ17 029891). At Hakataramea Pass, gravel road turnoff, a fence sign read:

                                                   BE AWARE
                                       UNLAWFUL HUNTING
                                   WILL NOT BE TOLERATED
                                            OFFENDERS WILL
                                            BE PROSECUTED
                       FIREARMS & VEHICLES MAY BE SEIZED
                      FIREARMS LICENCES WILL BE REVOKED
                                         MAXIMUM PENALTY
                       2 YEARS IMPRISONMENT $100 000 FINE
                                  OBTAIN PERMISSION FROM
                           THE LANDOWNER / PERMITS (DOC)
                                           BEFORE HUNTING

POLICE          CRIMESTOPPERS             NEIGHBOURHOOD SUPPORT
                        [Ph]...                                               NEW ZEALAND
              SPEAK UP, IT'S ANONYMOUS

Typical NZ cop sign touting for snitches, when cops were thin on the ground. The only cops I saw in Mackenzie Country were cops fining speedsters on SH8. Evidence of hunting / poaching I saw were dead wallabies on roadsides. SH8 farmers told us poachers spotlighted on their farms at night, taking pot shots close to their homesteads. I often saw road-kill wallabies near wooded spots on SH8 & passes.

A road sign read:

                 CAUTION

*  NARROW ROAD
*  STEEP GRADES
*  FORDS
*  SEASONAL SNOW & ICE

       DRIVE CAREFULLY

Hakataramea Pass, gravel road passed between Dalgety Range E, 18 kms long & Grampian Range W, more than 20 kms long. En route, I crossed 4 fords, streams trickling down to Snowy River below Dalgety Range. A stream crossing the road caused big potholes. 12 kms along Haka Pass, just beyond the 4th ford, a dead wallaby lay on the road, marking a farm track. (Map ref: BZ17 058919). My Topo50 map showed the farm track ascending Grampian Range to a scree saddle at 1800 m. Above the saddle, Grampian summit ridge track spit into a S farm track & N farm track. I would take the N farm track to Grampian summit, 1921 m.

From Haka Pass, I wandered up the farm track, zig-zagging up a steep tussock ridge, streams in valleys both sides of the ridge. Besides tussock grassland & spiky Spaniards, I saw many alpine cushion plants, mentioned in other blog posts. Notable were green or brown whipcord hebes amongst stones & many grey vegetable sheep clinging to rocks on steep slopes. Scab weeds & other cushion plants reminded me of zooanthids in coastal rockpools. Living scab weed branches were supported by dead scab weed branches, providing nutrients for the living.

A warm morning. A lone wallaby hopped down a tussock slope to a stream. Skinks scuttled across rocks. Brown crickets & bigger green crickets hopped about too. A lone falcon soared thermals, hunting while I climbed.

At about 1600 m, tussockland became steep scree, covered by snow patches & sparse alpine cushion plants. I compressed snowballs, sucking them, quenching my thirst, saving my bottled water for later.

From the 1800 m scree saddle, I didn't descend the farm track the other side, as it was still snow covered, making it difficult to pass Black Rocks. Instead, I followed a fence over scree, the last 100 vertical metres odd, to Grampian summit 1921 m. I added a stone to the cairn on the flat top, surrounded by stones & alpine cushion plants, mostly yellow. On the summit ridge I'd passed two farm gates, one bent by foul weather, the other still half covered in snow, amidst scree & cushion plants.

Clouds played above my head, while I admired alpine views: E, Rollesby Range, Dalgety Range, Mt Nessing. S, Hakataramea Valley. SSW, Kirkliston Range. SW Benmore Range, Lake Benmore below. W, Mary Range, Lake Pukaki, snowy Ben Ohau Range beyond. NNW, snowy Mt Sefton prominent. NW, snowy Mt Cook Range, snowy Mt Cook & snowy Mt Tasman prominent. NNE, Mt John & Lake Tekapo. Snowy Mt Stevenson prominent. NE, snowy Malte Brun prominent. Snowy Gammack Range. Snowy Hall Range. ENE, snowy Two Thumbs Range, snowy Mt Edward, snowy Mt Dobson prominent. Snowy Sherwood Range & snowy Mt Fox prominent.

I texted Leah from Grampian Range summit, no problems, as long as I pointed my cell towards Mt John. Any other direction, my texts didn't get through, like aiming my cell towards Hakataramea Valley, a waste.

Stats:

Climb: 1000 vertical metres from Hakataramea Pass to Grampian Range summit.
Return distance: 12 kms.
Times: Ascent 4.5 hours. Descent 3.5 hours. A long day.

Essentials: Tramping, hill walking fitness, map, all weather gear, backpack, sunglasses, food, water, walking stick(s). Cell phone coverage if cell pointed to Mt John.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Dalgety Range Summit Ridge, Mackenzie Country.

Mon 06.11.17. I drove SH8 from Pleasant Point to Mackenzie Pass via Fairlie, Burkes Pass, Dog Kennel Corner, Haldon Rd & Mackenzie Pass Rd, the latter 9 kms gravel road to Mackenzie Pass top, between Rollesby Range N, 11 kms long & Dalgety Range S, 18 kms long. Having summited Rollesby Range last week, I wanted to climb to the Dalgety Range summit track, a remote area, far from tourists. The summit track was about 8 kms long with another 3 kms climb needed to summit Mt Dalgety, 1752 m.

Several hundred metres beyond Mackenzie Memorial on Mackenzie Pass, I parked my car at the roadside near a Mackenzie Stream tributary at about 700 m height (Map ref: BZ17 073037) where a grassy farm track marked on my Topo50 map rose to electricity pylons marching across Mackenzie Pass. It was a nor'wester warm, spring morn, so I started my tramp wearing shorts, T shirt, trainers, hat & backpack. Walking stick essential.

After the farm track petered out beyond the pylons, I climbed tussock land & waded though patches of Discaria toumatou matagouri & Aciphylla speargrass till I struck the main farm track zig-zagging up the NW end of Dalgety Range. The farm track climbed E roughly parallel to Mackenzie Pass with grand views of Rollesby Range N & Albury Range E.

When I stopped to catch my breath, turning round I had grand views of arid Mackenzie Basin & snowy peaks: Stafford Range, Ben Ohau Range with Mackenzies Peak, Razorback, Kaimakamaka Peaks, Dun Fiunary, Glentanner, Mt Sealy & others. As usual Mt Sefton & The Footstool were cloudy. Mt Cook further N was clear & snowy, Mt Tasman below ditto. Below those mighty peaks I saw snowy peaks & valleys: Gammack Range, Mt Stevenson, Braemar Dome, Fork River Valley, Mt Joseph, Cass River Valley, snowy hulk Malte Brun above, Hall Range. Looking N across Mackenzie Pass, I saw Rollesby Range with snowy Two Thumbs Range peaks & snowy Sherwood Range peaks beyond.

For a while, Dalgety NW ridge I climbed overlooked Mackenzie Stream SW flowing down a valley & snowy Grampian Range distant SW. As it had snowed last night, the S end of Dalgety Range & Grampian Range summit was sprinkled with fresh snow. En route, a wallaby froze in tussock above me, letting me snap 2 pics. When I said, "Hullo Mister Wallaby," it bounded down hill, joining sheep. I'd encounter 2 more live wallabies on my tramp & 2 dead wallabies, presumably shot at the highest point I reached on the summit track.

After I'd passed 3 farm gates & the top of a slip louring above Mackenzie Pass, the farm track turned sharp S at about 1300 m (Map ref: BZ17 097026) becoming the rocky, summit track winding along Dalgety summit ridge past rocky outcrops & wind funnels. The nor'wester coming off Mackenzie Basin cooled, causing me to become hypothermic, despite having climbed for 2.5 hours. I stopped & put on my winter gear, longs over my shorts, windcheater jacket with hood over my hat, gloves, which soon warmed me.

I wandered the cold, rocky, summit road for about 1 hour viewing alpine plants like Geranium sessiliflorum bronze crane-bill, Carmichaelia crassicaulis coral broom, Carmichaelia monroi dwarf broom, Raoulia scab weed, Celmisias, Dracophyllum prostratum, Gaultheria depressa snowberry, green & yellow Scleranthus, tussocks, Raoulia vegetable sheep at bitterly cold wind funnels. On the summit track I passed three more farm gates & patches of snow which increased towards Mt Dalgety summit, 1752 m.

From the E side of Dalgety summit ridge, I saw Albury Range with green Rollesby Valley below & the tops of Devils Peak & Fiery Peak beyond. E beyond Tengawai River, rolling green hills & farmlands to distant The Brothers hills & the Pacific. SE I saw Mt Nimrod Range & Mt Nessing Range, with a glimpse of green Hakataramea Valley farmlands between Mt Nessing Range & Dalgety Range.

From the W side of Dalgety summit ridge I saw arid Mackenzie Basin & snowy Alpine ranges described above: Stafford, Ben Ohau, Mt Cook, Gammack, Hall... Sprawled across arid Mackenzie Basin were smaller ranges & hills from N to S: Mt John with a glimpse of Lake Tekapo, Old Man Range with Tekapo Military Camp below, Mary Range with a glimpse of Lake Pukaki beyond. SW Grampian Range & Benmore Range. Also a glimpse of Lake Ohau at the S end of Ben Ohau.

On Dalgety summit track I scoffed my scroggin, 3 mandarins & biltong. Water essential, as I was hungry & thirsty after my 3.5 hour climb to a high point on Dalgety summit ridge, 1426 m (Map ref: BZ17 097998). There I found 2 dead wallabies, dessicated & mummified by sun & cold winds. Maybe a hunter had left them there, warning live wallabies, pests in Mackenzie Country. There was still a long way to go on Dalgety summit ridge to Mt Dalgety snowy summit, 1752 m.

I'd planned to tramp to 1588 m on Dalgety summit ridge, where I saw a distant aerial installation. But my Nikon battery expired at the 1426 m high point & the nor'wester was biting, so I returned from whence I came. Tomorrow's another day. I would've needed to tramp another 8 kms along the summit ridge to summit Mt Dalgety, 1752 m.

Stats:

Climb: 700 vertical metres.
Return distance: 12 kms (incl 3 kms farm track climb, Mackenzie Pass Rd to 1300 m start of summit track & 3 kms along summit track to 1426 m).
Times: Return 6 hours (incl 2.5 hours climb to summit track, 1 hour on summit track to 1426 m, 2.5 hours return).

Essentials: Tramping, hill walking fitness, map, backpack, walking stick(s), sturdy shoes, sunglasses, all weather gear, water, food. Cell phone coverage if cell pointed to Mt John.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Rollesby Range Summit, Mackenzie Country

Mon 30.10.17. A sunny day. As I wanted to climb to Rollesby Range summit ridge, 1377 m (Map ref: BZ17 095068) I drove SH8 from Pleasant Point to the top of Mackenzie Pass, 780 m, via Albury, Fairlie, Burkes Pass, 709 m, left at Dog Kennel Corner along Haldon Rd, turnoff at Mackenzie Pass Rd, a gravel road, 9 kms to the top of Mackenzie Pass. I didn't drive the shorter route from Pleasant Point via Albury to Mackenzie Pass, as there was lots of gravel road, dusty & nasty for my old Toyota Corolla.

Mackenzie Pass tops a saddle between Rollesby Range N, 11 kms long & Dalgety Range S, 18 kms long. I wanted to climb from Mackenzie Pass top to Rollesby Range summit ridge, which sloped downwards towards Burkes Pass. My Topo50 map showed a farm track up to the summit ridge. On my drive up Mackenzie Pass from arid Mackenzie Basin, I stopped by Mackenzie Stream to look at the Mackenzie Memorial, a grey, granite pyramid on a plinth beside the gravel road, inscribed in Gaelic, Maori, English:

                                                                            IN
                                                                    THIS SPOT
                                                                       JAMES
                                                                  MACKENZIE
                                                            THE FREEBOOTER
                                                           WAS CAPTURED BY
                                                           JOHN SIDEBOTTOM
                                                            AND THE MAORIS
                                                      TAIKO AND SEVENTEEN
                                                   AND ESCAPED FROM THEM
                                                             THE SAME NIGHT
                                                               4th MARCH 1855

Hence Mackenzie Country was named after freebooter & sheep rustler James Mackenzie.

The farm track-zig zagged up a tussock ridge, overlooking a gorge with a stream flowing down to Mackenzie Stream. Wilding pines grew on Rollesby Range tussock slopes. They'd be hard to fell on such steep slopes. From about 1000 m height, Alpine tussocks & speargrass associated with mat plants like Raoulia scabweed & vast mats of grey cushion plants & Alpine plants, like Celmisia & Senecio daisies, Gaultheria snowberries & green & yellow Scleranthus. Dominant plants: tussocks & rust coloured Dracophyllum shrubs with leathery stems & leaves. I saw Hieracium weed amongst that lot too, but not as polluting as Hieracium I'd seen on stations bordering Lake Tekapo.

There was little fauna on the way up: 2 seagulls enjoyed the winds over Mackenzie Pass. I wondered if they've ever seen the sea, inhabiting local lakes & tarns. A wallaby bounded to cover by the stream when it saw me. There was wallaby dung on the farm track & I picked up 4 used bullet cartridges, evidence of hunting. Dried cow dung was in the lower part of the track. There were no sheep on the tussock slopes.

At about 1100 m the track plateaued along the tussock ridge a bit, before curving upwards along the head of the gorge, then steeply zig-zagging to the summit ridge at 1377 m (Map ref: BZ17 095068). On top, the track went slightly below the rocky ridge. At 2 big rocks on each side of the track, I left the track to summit the ridge & found a weather station with anemometer & weather vane, with solar panel electricity supply. Along the rocky summit there were 3 more installations: aerials with solar panels & a tin shed at the 4th installation.

From Rollesby Range summit ridge, grand, snowy Alpine views:

E: Spring green Rollesby Valley & stations. Single Hill Range. Albury Range.
ESE: Distant Pacific. Spring green farms. The Brothers hills.
SE: Mt Nessing Range. Mt Nimrod Range.
S: End of Dalgety Range above Mackenzie Pass. Distant Otago Ranges.
SSW: Dalgety Range. Grampian Range.
SW: Arid Mackenzie Basin & stations. Greys Hills. Benmore Range. Distant Otago Ranges. Stafford Range. Ben Ohau Range.
W: Mary Range obscuring Lake Pukaki. Ben Ohau Range,
NW: Arid Mackenzie Basin & stations. Ben Ohau Range incl Dun Fiunary, Mt Glentanner, Mt Sealy.
NNW: Arid Mackenzie Basin & stations. Mt John. Old Man Range, Tekapo Military Camp below. Cloudy Mt Sefton & The Footstool. Cloudy Mt Cook & Mt Tasman. Braemar Dome. Mt Stevenson. Fork River Valley. Mt Joseph. Cass River Valley. Gammack Range. Hall Range.
N: Two Thumbs Range incl Mt Edward, Mt Maud & Mt Dobson obscuring Lake Tekapo. Mt Dobson ski field road & ski lift seen. Sherwood Range incl Mt Fox.
NE: Spring green Burkes Pass. Rollesby Valley & stations. Single Hill Range. Albury Range. ENE: Distant High Claytons. Devils Peak.

Stats:

Climb: 600 vertical metres from Mackenzie Pass summit to Rollesby Range summit ridge.
Return distance: 9 kms.
Times: 2.5 hours ascent. 2 hours descent.

Essentials:

Tramping, hill walking fitness, backpack, map, sturdy shoes, sunglasses, water, food, walking stick(s), all weather gear, as Alpine weather changed quickly. I summited Rollesby Range in windless, bright sunlight. On top, wind & clouds arose within an hour. Cell phone coverage if cell pointed to Mt John.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.