An Epic Afternoon – Borland Peak 1299m

“On a Mish” #328 Borland Peak 1299m. Hunter Mountains. Fiordland National Park. 4.11.2015. Getting out and about is something everyone should do often. A wander amongst the mountains can clear any clouds in your mind and the exercise will bring fitness benefits that will be valuable in the future. We are lucky here in Aotearoa, as a good walk is available to most. And for the lucky humans in the south, we have some of the best walking locations on the planet. A spare afternoon was all I had, so I headed to a place where I know I can make my afternoon extra epic!

One of my favourite locations to visit to get some exercise and views is the Hunter Mountains. Access into Fiordland National Park via the Borland Road makes the place a step ahead of most when it comes to epicness. It is hard to believe that within the 1.3 million hectares that is New Zealand’s biggest national park, there are only three roads, and one of the roads requires a boat to get to it. The Borland Road is only an hour’s drive from my home in Te Anau, and once there the huge range of options can make it difficult to make a choice.

On this visit (one of many to the area) I decided to get some exercise and views on the ridge that climbs east from the Borland Saddle(990m). Most places in Fiordland require bush-bashing to gain the alpine areas above the treeline, but with the Borland Road you arrive at the Borland Saddle(990m) with only alpine scrub above. I have been lucky to begin lots of adventures from this spot and even though I had been up to the saddle many times the epicness never loses its charm.

The car was locked, and it was time to begin the journey to the top. Starting in the long golden tussock above the saddle, I was soaking wet from the knees down due to the overnight dew that leaves everything covered in a fine layer of moisture. After pushing through the dampness, I got to the ridge, which lacks foliage due to the Fiordland weather constantly beating it with wind and rain. A short ridge heads east to Peak 1227m and a quick side trip took me to an epic view down the Borland Valley and up the valley of the South Branch.

After enjoying the view, I headed back to the junction of the two ridges and pushed on towards Peak 1299m. It is here where the ridge rises steeply, and travel gets more interesting. I avoided the rocky knob on the ridge by climbing tussock and scrub. On occasions I looked down below me at the massive drop into the South Branch valley and this made me tighten my grip on the helpful alpine vegetation. Above the steep section the ridge became easy to follow and as I approached the summit I started to see more and more of the Grebe Valley. I would have loved to stay on the top of the mountain longer but due to only having the afternoon free I had to get back to my car asap.

The return journey along the ridge went by without issue, however the steep section had me gripping tussock tight as I clambered my way backwards down to easier ground. The building wind had dried most of the tussock meaning my legs stayed dry as I pushed through to my car on the Borland Saddle(990m).

Since this mish I have returned and gone further along the ridge a couple of times, and each is as good as the last. If you don’t mind steep scrambling, then this is an awesome off-track mission with views to match. In fact, writing this is making me want to return to the Borland Saddle for more…

The Grebe Valley from Peak 1299m

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

Subscribe To my newsletter