Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Week 8. Mt Gerald Station, Macaulay River Valley, Mackenzie Country

Fri 09.09.16. I drove from Mt Gerald Station to Fairlie for Leah to teach at St Josephs School, Fairlie. I did my circular walk around Fairlie.

Afternoon: I drove us to Timaru for banking & shopping. There were no ANZ bank branches at Fairlie nor Lake Tekapo. Our nearest ANZ branch was at Geraldine. Rural NZ was poorly served by ANZ. Recently Westpac threatened to close its Fairlie branch, just leaving an ATM, like at Lake Tekapo. Customers like me who liked dealing with people had to deal with machines!

Sat 10.09.16. Leah taught her Woodbury & Kurow students at St Josephs School, Fairlie. Afterwards, I drove us back to our lake house, Mt Gerald Station.

Sun 11.09.16. Lake Tekapo School principal & his family visited us at Mt Gerald Station. Leah had worked with the principal for nearly 3 years. He was impressed with Mt Gerald School & the children's progress.

Mon 12.09.16. School day Mt Gerald Station. Great jubilation as the 3 children had all come first in their ski races at Round Hill ski field on Saturday. Leah hung a congratulations poster on the school door. I gave Jimmy the school dog a bowl of water to celebrate.

Afternoon: I drove Leah to Lake Tekapo School for her to teach there & for lesson prep.

Tues 13.09.16. School day Mt Gerald Station. A teacher from Lake Tekapo School visited Leah at Mt Gerald Station.

In Macaulay River Valley, between Razor Back, 1570 m & Mt Toby, 2222 m, I walked the true left bank of Macaulay River as follows:

I parked my car at the end of Lilybank Rd by Mt Gerald Station carpark, overlooking Lilybank Station & the merging of Macaulay River & Godley River below Alps, a remote area with magnificent Alpine & river valley views - Hall Range westwards, Sibbald Range northwards, Two Thumbs Range northwards & eastwards.

Below Mt Gerald, 1551 m, I crossed Ribbonwood Stream & Ninety Five Stream merge & wandered a track on the left bank of Macaulay River to Mt Gerald Station deer fenced paddocks. Many paddock gates along Lilybank Rd & near tourist areas were padlocked to stop wandering stock due to careless trampers & tourists.

I crossed several fences & paddocks till I came to a farm track on the 800 m contour going up the left bank of Macaulay River. I crossed Stone Hut stream fan with Stone Hut nestling by willows, higher up at the top of the fan at about 1000 m. I'd visited Stone Hut in April, during my trek up Stone Hut Stream gorge between Mt Gerald & Mt Toby.

I crossed another stream below another gorge on Mt Toby lower slopes. Looming above the true right bank was Razor Back which I tramped past in about 2 hours.

I crossed Macaulay River flats below Mt Toby. The track then undulated along the left bank past cattle paddocks & matagouri / tussock lands with Macaulay River braiding through shingle below. In Macaulay River Valley, the braided river I passed was about 1 km wide. It narrowed further up. At one point I went down to Macauley River, but it flowed too fast & deep for me to cross, so I stuck to the left bank.

I crossed several streams flowing down to Macaulay River & saw weather station apparatus surrounded by barbed wire. The weather apparatus: 2 bucket, rain gauges, 2 padlocked steel boxes on poles, the boxes had sticker warnings not to interfere with the apparatus, giving early flood warnings for Mackenzie District Council. One of the boxes had a solar panel & aerial on top.

I crossed First Waterfall Stream by another padlocked, deer fence gate. The waterfall was high above, falling into a gorge from about 1300 m. It reminded me of Howick falls I'd often visited near Pietermaritzburg.

I crossed several more streams. Razor Back receded behind me on the right bank. Razor Back ended abruptly in Stony Stream gorge. With my binoculars I saw a farm road zig-zagging above the S end of Stony Stream gorge towards the 1300 m contour on Razor Back & Observation Hill, 1689 m.

I continued along the left bank of Macaulay River till I came to a private hut by Second Waterfall Stream below Mt Toby. Outside the hut were horse hitching posts & a barbed wire, horse paddock. The hut was locked, but I used the long drop toilet by the stream. The long drop had grand views of the bend up Macaulay River Valley, Third Waterfall Stream, Two Thumbs Range, including Mt Ajax, 2319 m, Razor Back, Observation Hill, Stony Steam gorge & snowy Sibbald Range.

I returned to my car at Lilybank Rd carpark, the way I'd came.

Walking Times: 3 hours to the Second Waterfall Stream hut. 3 hours return.
Distances: 8 kms to Second Waterfall Stream hut. 8 kms return. Total 16 kms.

Tramping fitness, food, water, maps, all weather gear, safety gear, farmer's permission required.

Wed 14.09.16. School day Mt Gerald Station.

Thurs 15.09.16. School day Mt Gerald Station.

Afternoon: I drove Leah to Lake Tekapo School for her to teach there & for her Pilates class at the Community Hall. Afterwards I drove us down Burkes Pass to our Fairlie rental.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

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