Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ryde Falls, Mt Oxford

Ever since our arrival in NZ 16 years ago, we didn't have money to go on expensive holidays. In between tenants, Leah's teaching colleague sometimes lent us her Oxford cottage, so we got away from 2010-2011 quakes for short times.

28.12.11. Birds nest in verandah lamp, Oxford cottage

28.12.11. Summer daisies, grass, clover, Oxford paddock

October last, we'd tried to walk to Ryde Falls from Coopers Creek, about 6 kms one way, but turned back after a couple of hours. Spring rains had muddied tracks & we became tired of sludging through mud.

28.12.11. Rustic bus stop, between Coopers Creek & View Hill

Wed 28.12.11. Five days post 23.12.11 quake swarm, which had hit Christchurch just before Xmas, we were back at Oxford. We succeed in reaching Ryde Falls that attempt. Walk time: 4 hours return.

28.12.11. Paddock & Torlesse Range, seen from View Hill road

From Oxford I drove to View Hill car park:

Caution: The dirt road to View Hill car park degraded the closer we got to Mt Oxford. We drove over a couple of fords, the first ford was OK, concrete lined. The second ford, I waded first & found one side was deep, the other side OK to drive across in our Toyota Corolla.

The farm road narrowed & became deeply rutted the closer to View Hill car park we went. In places, there were steep drops on one side of the farm road.

I drove through 4 farm gates en route, tedious for gate-opener & closer, Leah.

View Hill car park: Westward views to snowless Torlesse Range & eastward views across Canterbury Plains to Port Hills & Banks Peninsula peaks. We scrutinized the DOC track map board at the car park. We found tracks to Ryde Falls were well marked by DOC signs & recommended walking times fitted our walking pace.

28.12.11. DOC Wharfdale Track sign & map board, View Hill car park

28.12.11. Wharfdale Track, Mt Oxford view of Torlesse Range

From View Hill car park we wandered along Wharfdale Track, through beech forest, gently rising up Mt Oxford. Soon we came upon a stile & a DOC sign stating:


28.12.11. DOC sign, Wharfdale Track, Mt Oxford

Further on in beech forest, at track junctions, we came upon more DOC sign boards, showing tracks & walking times: Link Track; Coopers Creek; Ryde Falls; Wharfdale Track; Wharfdale Hut; Mt Oxford Summit; Korimako Track; Townshend Track...

28.12.11. DOC sign, Wharfdale Track, Mt Oxford

We wandered beech forest along Korimako Track to Ryde Falls. Along the way we saw beeches; rimu; matai; mingimingi; creamy white, flowering kanukas; broadleafs; wineberries... Trackside, we had to watch out for prickly bush lawyers & tree nettle sprouts. Many shrubs & trees had green berries ripening...

28.12.11. Kanuka flowers, Wharfdale Track, Mt Oxford

The tracks were muddy in places, but less than a couple of months before. We prodded mud holes with our walking sticks, mud usually about 10 cm deep & crossed carefully. We saw fallen trees in undergrowth, with vertical root pans clogged with stones & soil, a mixing of mountain soils. Tracks were well maintained, fallen trees chopped up & logs placed as erosion stoppers.

28.12.11. Beech forest ferns, Korimako Track, Mt Oxford

28.12.11. Korimako Track / Ryde Falls Track junction, beech forest, Mt Oxford

28.12.11. Beech forest, Ryde Falls Track, Mt Oxford

28.12.11. Broadleaf tree sign, Ryde Falls Track, Mt Oxford

A feature of our walk to Ryde Falls was understorey fern growth: spring fronds were lighter green, above older, darker green, fern leaves, masses & masses of understorey ferns...

28.12.11. Duckboard bridge & fern undergrowth in beech forest, Ryde Falls Track, Mt Oxford

At another track junction, we forked off from Korimako Track to Ryde Falls Track. Through beech forest, we wandered across several duck board bridges, crossing streams. Some streams we just rock-hopped across.

28.12.11. Fallen tree across Ryde Falls Track, Mt Oxford

Descending a beech gully to Ryde Falls, we became sand fly bait. We were told in Oxford that sand flies were pesky that season. Leah wore longs & slathered her arms in sand fly repellant. My bare legs were just chomped.

28.12.11. Beech forest stream below Ryde Falls, Mt Oxford

28.12.11. Wineberry tree sign, Ryde Falls, Mt Oxford

28.12.11. Ryde Falls, Mt Oxford

We met more wanderers at Ryde Falls. A family climbed the slippery track, through undergrowth, going up Ryde Falls. Leah & I climbed half way up, then turned back, as my jandals were unsuitable for climbing. Too dangerous for my liking. Over the last year, we'd had enough dangers in quaking Christchurch to last us a life time. From bottom pools, we took pics of Ryde Falls.

28.12.11. Ryde Falls, Mt Oxford

Riverside, a man & his wife walked their 3 Swiss, Saanen goats. The buck & does were white. Both genders had horns. The 7 year old buck had magnificent, curled horns. Leah said the goatee bearded man was a goat, as she doubted DOC would approve of goat walking & goats chomping beech forest vegetation.

28.12.11. Saanen goats, Ryde Falls, Mt Oxford

On our return walk, back to View Hill car park, we were pleased to get away from pesky sand flies. As it was holiday time, several afternoon walkers passed us to & from Ryde Falls. Other walks I'd done on Mt Oxford, during school term times, I'd had Mt Oxford tracks to myself.

28.12.11. Wharfdale Track, beech forest view of Torlesse Range

28.12.11. View Hill view of Torlesse Range, start of Wharfdale Track

From View Hill car park, on the farm road back to Oxford, we came upon a car driven off the rutted road by a SUV. Not enough road space for 2 vehicles to pass abreast. The SUV was busy towing the car backwards from the lip of a slope.

Thereafter we drove behind the car, a girl passenger opened the 4 farm gates, Leah closed. Easier for Leah.

Content & pics Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

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