Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Roys Lagoon Birdlife, Mt Hay Station, Mackenzie Country

Tues 08.12.15. I parked my car beside Lilybank Rd in Lake Tekapo Regional Park & wandered up Ebenezer Ln through pine forest. About 1 km up the gravel lane, I crossed Mt Hay Station fence by a locked gate, as I wanted to birdwatch at Roys Lagoon about 4 kms away. Map ref: BY17 029268. As Mt Hay Station is a working sheep station permission must be obtained from owners before any climbing / walks on the station.

I followed a farm track past stony, moraine hills & a dry dam, then continued along the farm track, rounding a grassy, moraine hill to a farm gate by a series of willowed tarns. I saw two foraging, pied stilts & several paradise shelducks on the tarns. Five black swans flew off towards Roys Lagoon, a hidden lagoon in a glacial kettle hole, unseen from Mt John summit above Lake Tekapo.

A spur winged plover stood on a tarn shore while I wandered past, with grand views of Mt Edward, Mt Maud, Mt Dobson, Mt Ardmore & Mt Hay. I followed another farm track past a dry tarn & rounded another grassy, moraine hill towards the homestead & Roys Lagoon.

I wandered the grassy, moraine hill south of Roys Lagoon, as it gave high views of the lagoon. I saw flocks of ducks, too small & distant to identify with my binoculars, but flocks of Canada geese, black swans & brown cygnets were easy to see floating on Roys Lagoon. I spotted a couple of Australasian harriers soaring & hunting rabbits. Ditto a NZ falcon flapping its wings, hovering & hunting too. A couple of black backed gulls & a southern pied oystercatcher flew by.

As the moraine hillside was north facing, there were many alpine cushion plants & mat plants, Raoulia & Scleranthus species, amongst purple topped grasses & tussocks. Light green, Raoulia scabweed bloomed masses of tiny, yellow flowers, pollinated by scurrying, NZ native bees, their pollen sacs full. An olive green Raoulia species had slightly bigger, matted foliage & creamy flowers.

I returned to my car, over moraine hill country, via another series of dry & watered tarns, closer to Lilybank Rd. The circular walk was about 10 kms. A shorter, more direct walk to Roys Lagoon can be done from Mt Hay Station homestead, situated 8 kms along Lilybank Rd.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Old Woolshed & Mt Maud, Mt Hay Station, Mackenzie Country

Tues 01.12.15. I parked my car about 10 kms along Lilybank Rd below Mt Hay, as I wanted to walk to the Old Woolshed on Mt Hay Station below Mt Maud & Mt Dobson. Map ref: BY17 062283. It was a vast watershed, draining streams from My Hay, Wee McGregor, Mt Ardmore, Mt Dobson & Mt Maud. Near a ruined shepherd's hut several streams joined to form Edward Stream below Mt Edward.

I sidled round the north end of Mt Hay, following Mt Hay's moraine tail over hummocky country, past two tarns. Northwards, were grand views of Wee McGregor & Mt Ardmore. Eastwards, beyond the moraine hummocks & tarns, a grassy basin, watered by streams & surrounded by mountains. The grassy basin sloped gently down to a rocky stream bed which went round the end of Mt Dobson SW ridge, forming a rocky portal, with Mt Hay tail on the opposite bank.

Streams & farm fences crossed the grassy basin, as well as a farm track which went over Mt Hay tail from Mt Hay Station homestead to the south end of Mt Ardmore. On other walks I'd used the north end of the farm track to zig-zag up Mt Ardmore south ridge.

Eastwards, I followed another farm track on the stream bed through the rocky portal, Mt Maud & Mt Edward straight ahead. In the stream bed a Himalayan tahr ran away when it saw me.

I crossed another farm track which went from My Hay Station homestead & zig-zagged up Mt Dobson SW ridge. I'd used that farm track on another climb up the SW ridge. It took me 2 hours to reach the ruined shepherd's hut beside the stream, below a rocky hill with a cairn on top.

I climbed the rocky hill. Opposite was another hill with a cairn on top, the end of Mt Hay tail. The 2 hills formed another portal where a confluence of streams from surrounding mountains formed Edward stream, bending southwards, past willows, below Mt Edward.

From the hill top above the ruined shepherd's hut, I had upstream, valley views of Mt Dobson slopes, Tekapo Saddle & Mt Maud, their streams draining into Edward Stream.

On my wander from My Hay I'd aimed for 2 distant poplars below Mt Maud. From the hill top I saw the poplars were surrounded by willows on a stream bank. I resolved to return another day to climb Mt Maud second west ridge. The return trek to my car also took 2 hours. Total distance 10 kms.

Thurs 10.12.15. I parked my car about 8 kms along Lilybank Rd, beyond Mt Hay Station homestead, as I wanted to climb Mt Maud second west ridge, above Edward Stream, near the Old Woolshed. Map ref: BY17 099271. From the sheep yards by Lilybank Rd, I followed a farm fence past a willowy swamp & climbed the steep farm track, sidling past the south end of Mt Hay.

The farm track went through moraine, hummock country & over Mt Hay tail to the braided stream draining My Hay Station mountains: Mt Hay, Wee McGregor, Mt Ardmore, Mt Dobson, Tekapo Saddle, Mt Maud, Mt Edward. Crossing over the moraine tail all the mountains were seen, a magnificent panorama.

On the farm track, which eventually zig-zagged up Mt Dobson SW ridge, I crossed the braided stream & wandered down to the ruined shepherd's hut, where Edward Stream bent south below Mt Edward.

I crossed the hill behind the ruined shepherd's hut to poplars & willows by another Edward Stream tributary, a confluence of streams From Mt Dobson SW ridge, Tekapo Saddle, Mt Maud & Mt Edward NW ridge.

I crossed a stony, dry, riverbed, between Mt Edward NW ridge & Mt Maud first west ridge & followed a double farm fence, up valley, on the east bank of Edward Stream, below Mt Maud towards Tekapo Saddle. The double fence was old & new fences. The dilapidated, old fence had weathered, rimu, fence posts. The new fence had treated, wooden, fence posts. Edward Stream valley I wandered - Mt Dobson SW ridge west, Tekapo Saddle north, Mt Maud east.

At one point upstream, a low tussock ridge projecting from Mt Dobson SW ridge went east to Mt Maud first west ridge, forming a rocky canyon, Edward Stream flowing through the canyon. I avoided the canyon by following the fence over the stream at the Canyon's exit & following the fence over the low ridge to recross Edward Stream the other side, below Mt Maud second west ridge.

I climbed Mt Maud second west ridge through tussocks & Spaniard grass to the rocky top. I followed a goat track along the rocky, ridge top, crossed a saddle, climbed past 4 rocky outcrops & stopped for lunch at about 1300 m, viewing Mt Maud scree line below. I was slightly lower than Tekapo Saddle, 1387 m, seen across the valley head further north.

I had west views of the zig-zag, farm road going through tussock land up Mt Dobson SW ridge & over the top glimpsed Mt Ardmore's rocky summit ridge & beyond to Alpine ranges across lake Tekapo. South I looked down Edward Stream valley, Mt Maud & Mt Edward east & distant Lake Tekapo Village, Mt John & Old Man Range south west.

I texted Leah successfully from Mt Maud second west ridge, as I was unable to text her earlier near Mt Hay Station homestead, due to blocking hills. I didn't continue up the second west ridge to Mt Maud summit, 1797 m, as the tussock ridge became dangerously steep & rocky.

The walk / climb to my lunch stop up Mt Maud second west ridge took 3 hours. Conditions - nor'wester breeze, cloudy & cool. After midday, clouds disappeared, the afternoon a scorcher. I returned to my car in another 3 hours. Total distance 13 kms.

As Mt Hay Station is a working sheep station permission must be obtained from the owners for any walks or climbs. Fitness, map, all weather gear, food, water, emergency kit are essential.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.