Not Far from Thar (Part One) – A-Frame Hut

“On a Mish” #69 Not Far from Thar (Part One). A-Frame Hut. Hakatere Conservation Park. 19.5.2015. During my many years roaming the hills I have only been out hunting a couple of times. On many occasions I have bumped into like-minded outdoors folk in the hills and many times I have been asked “did ya shoot anything?”. I have shot many things, but always with my camera, which means I have often hit very good-looking targets. The freezer filling factor and the chance at a trophy can seem appealing at times and I can see why people go out for a shoot. I do sometimes think I should get into hunting, because so many times I have been not far from Thar and the other sort-after animals that live in the wilderness of Aotearoa…

Covering the 60,000 hectares that make up Hakatere Conservation Area will take a long time. I started exploring the place back in 2009 (and back when I was a kid), and since then I have only just started on the near endless mission possibilities. I started out around Lakes Heron and Clearwater, the latter being near the park’s southern boundary. Slowly I moved north and eventually I ended up near the Rakaia River which acts as the northern boundary.

My normal summers down south, winters at the ski shop routine had allowed me the opportunity to do many missions around the city I grew up in. Most of the action at the shop was during the weekends and as I was the manager I liked to be there when the masses flocked. This meant I had days off during the week, so I usually got to go on adventures while most Cantabrians were working.

With a high slowly moving over the South Island I headed to the hills, and this time I was following the Te Araroa Trail south to A-Frame Hut. The hut is the one you encounter before you contemplate the crossing of the mighty Rakaia River, or the first of many found as you make your way across Hakatere. I had a half day of work, and after seeing the distance to the hut I figured I could work the morning and then go for an afternoon wander to the hut.

After crossing the Canterbury Plains and driving alongside the mid reaches of the Rakaia River I got to the start of the track to see what I really love seeing – and that’s no cars parked at the start of the trail. With haste I shouldered my pack and hit the track, hiking in the direction of Turtons Saddle. I had seen pictures and read about the awesome view at the top of the saddle, so I wanted to see if it lived up to its reputation.

I hiked along the old farm trail in the direction of a series of zigzags leading up to the saddle. Apart from the track and the old fences, the place was barren and bare of any signs of animal life. I might not have seen any animals but after I climbed to the top of the saddle, I did see one of the best views of the Rakaia River available…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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