Thursday, April 7, 2016

Camp Stream Hut / Mt Gerald Station / Te Kahui Kaupeka Park

Wed 06.04.16. My tramp to Camp Stream Hut, Map ref: BY17 105487. I drove 30 km along Lilybank Rd, Lake Tekapo east shore, past Mt Hay Station, Richmond Station & Round Hill Ski Field turnoff. Further on, in Mt Gerald Station, just beyond Coal River Bridge, the turnoff to the DOC carpark, where the Camp Stream Hut track started, in Te Kahui Kaupeka National Park - Gathering of the waters. The DOC sign board at the carpark was wrong, stating the walk was 6 km to Camp Stream Hut. DOC website stating 9 km one way was more accurate.

From the Coal River carpark the DOC marker poled track followed a farm road beside high deer fencing, passing paddocks & streams in glacial kettle holes till it reached a farm gate at the Mt Gerald Station / National Park boundary. A DOC sign at the border gate stated 3 km Rex Simpson Memorial Hut, 4 km Camp Stream Hut. Wrong again. The rough track, one way distance to Camp Stream Hut was 7 km from the Mt Gerald Station / National Park deer fence.

Following DOC marker poles, through matagouri, then snow tussock, the rough track followed an old fence line up steep, glacial terraces till it reached another farm road with another DOC sign pointing to Rex Simpson Memorial Hut & Camp Stream Hut in opposite directions. The Camp Stream Hut trail followed the old farm road over a Mt Gerald Saddle, Map ref: BY17 096499, about 1400 m height through snow tussock down to meandering Camp Stream in a snow tussock valley between Mt Gerald east side & Mt Braun Elwart west side.

Mt Gerald Saddle gave grand western views of Lake Tekapo, Mt Mistake, Godley River Valley & Alpine Ranges. Mt Gerald Saddle road gave eastern views of Camp Stream going down, past river terraces, to the back of Round Hill & Mt Richmond in the Two Thumbs Range. Camp Stream was bounded by Mt Gerald in the west & Two Thumbs Range in the east. Looking up valley, Mt Gerald east side showed no signs of glacial terracing.

At Camp Stream crossing another DOC sign gave directions, but no km distances to Camp Stream Hut, Rex Simpson Memorial Hut & Stag Saddle on the Te Araroa Trail. (3 000 km trail from Cape Reinga to Bluff). That signage was alarming, as I map estimated the distance from that Camp Stream crossing point to Stag Saddle, about 10 km, 700 vertical metres, a day's hike. With bad distance signs, DOC asked for idiot trampers to get lost in the mountains.

Round a curve on the road on Mt Braun Elwart southern ridge, Camp Stream Hut was on a river terrace below Mt Braun Elwart southern ridge & below another southern ridge terrace of a nameless mt. Mt Richmond, curved northwards past Round Hill, as a great wall of avalanche rock looming above the lot.

Camp Stream Hut was occupied, two campers scoffing in midday sun. I turned back & returned the way I'd come over Mt Gerald Saddle road.

My times: Mt Gerald Station / Coal River DOC carpark, farm road & rough track to the bottom of the glacial terraces: 1 hour.
Rough track, 500 vertical metres climb up Mt Gerald glacial terraces to another farm road: 1 hour.
Farm road over Mt Gerald Saddle to Camp Stream Hut: 1.5 hours.
Return from Camp Stream Hut to Mt Gerald Station / Coal River DOC carpark: 3.5 hours.

Total distance 18 kms. Total 700 vertical metres climbed. A full day's 7 hour walk, excluding pic & scoff times. Hill walking fitness, Topo 50 map, water, food, all weather gear needed. Cell phone coverage - only where Mt John / Lake Tekapo south shore can be seen. No cell phone coverage when surrounded by mts, hollows, or valleys.

Fri 05.05.16. My tramp to Camp Stream Hut from the S: From Lilybank Rd, 25 kms from Lake Tekapo village, I drove 3 kms up Round Hill Ski Field road & parked my car at the DOC carpark by Round Hill Ski Field gate, overlooking Coal River. A DOC sign indicated Richmond Trail 3 kms, Round Hill Ski Field 5 kms.

I went N. By Mt Gerald Station deer fence, I crossed Coal River & climbed the steep N bank by a tributary stream smothered in matagouri. Map ref: BY17 075456. Avoiding matagouri & deep snow tussock to the stream source, I wandered up moraine, N facing hummocks & glacial terraces to the edge of Coal River gorge - about 1 hour's tramp over alpine vegetation, like scab weed, mikimiki & snow tussock.

In snow tussock, sidling the S end of Mt Gerald, Map ref: BY17 108468, I crossed a high tussock valley with views of Mt Erebus NW & Round Hill SE, Mt Richmond behind.

Through tussock land, I tramped Camp Stream river terraces, between Mt Gerald S end & the S end of Mt Braun Elwart towards Camp Stream Hut on a river terrace above Camp Stream. E of Camp Stream Hut, Two Thumbs Range included 2 more mt ridges with the great wall of Richmond Range louring above the lot. A vast panorama, including 5 mt ridges above river terraces & valley streams, on my way to Camp Stream Hut.

I crossed Camp Stream & lunched at Camp Stream Hut. No one else in sight.

Inside: the corrugated iron hut had 3 small windows; 6 bunk beds; a wood burning stove; a wooden bench; kitchen bench; miscellaneous eating / water utensils; candle holders; business cards; intentions book.

Outside: Long drop toilet with a grand view of Round Hill & Richmond Range. Firewood was stored in 2 corrugated iron water cisterns & under corrugated iron sheets. An axe in a wood stump invited chopping. Red deer antlers hung above the wooden door. A sign on the door read:

     Camp Stream Hut
Mackenzie Alpine Trust  

Time: 3 hours from DOC carpark on Round Hill Ski Field road to Camp Stream Hut. Distance: 6 kms.

I returned to my car via the farm road over Mt Gerald Saddle, as above, recrossing Camp Stream & climbing to an old trig beacon, 1421 m on Mt Gerald S ridge. A longer return trek, distance 7 kms, time 4 hours.

Beware: On Mt Gerald, SW facing, moraine slopes there were dangerous, deep holes, formed by hidden streams, covered in tussock land. Using my walking stick, I probed ahead in deep tussock to stop me falling in holes. I saw two wallabies leap out of a hole & disappear into tussocks while bounding away. As I had no Personal Locator Beacon, (PLB costly, no hiring business at Lake Tekapo) if I fell into a hole & broke a limb, it would be a helluva job for LAND SAR finding me. If ever? Safety: I always gave my Topo 50 map ref intentions to family before I tramped the Alps.

Total time: 7 hours, excluding lunch. Total distance: 13 kms. 500 vertical metres climbed. Topo 50 map & tramping gear required, as above,

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

See Te Araroa Trail

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