Between Point A and Point B is Epic – Wye Creek Bivvy

“A Mish a Day” #211 Wye Creek Bivvy. Wye Creek Conservation Area. 24.4.2019. It is incredible how a mountain, or mountain range, can create a huge divide in a relatively small area. For instance I have taken several calls from people in Franz Josef or Fox Villages while in working in Aoraki/Mt Cook Village, asking if they can join the Heli-Hike leaving in 45 minutes? When looking at a map of the Te Waipounamu/South Island of Aotearoa, the distance between the three places does look very small. However, there was a reason it took so long to find a way through to the West Coast from the east when you are presented with the almighty barrier of Ka Tiritiri o Te Moana/The Southern Alps. So many excellent hikes in New Zealand run into the logistical nightmare of the start and finish beginning hundreds of kilometers away by road. A good example of this is the hike from the Remarkables Ski Field over Wye Creek Saddle, then following Wye Creek all the way to State Highway 6 between Queenstown and Kingston.

I was very lucky to not only tag along on a pre-organised trip over Wye Creek Saddle to the road, but also had the opportunity to see New Zealand legend Dave Dobbyn the night before. This mish ended up involving 10 people, and thanks to local knowledge, a night in the rock bivvy located in the Wye Creek Valley. The first job was to get a car to the Wye Creek/SH6 end of the track, then we piled into a couple of cars, and headed up the Remarkables Road (pre-toll). While we were enjoying the concert it rained, and now that we were up high in the mountains we had snow to hike in. Along with two dogs, the ten of us made our way into the clouds above Lake Alta, enroute to Wye Creek Saddle. The view from the top of the saddle was dense cloud, and the fresh snow was being blown around by the wind, making visibility only ten meters or so. The slippery snow-covered rocks made for slow travel, but it wasn’t long before we were out of the snow, and finally had our first view down the long Wye Creek Valley. We passed the place where I had sat out a storm a few years earlier (“A Mish a Day” #204), and it was good to be hiking on new ground. We stopped for lunch at an epic spot looking down on the huge waterfall that drains the tarns in the upper basin. The route down beside the waterfall made for some careful hiking on loose Otago rock, and it was at this point where one of our party had a minor slip, resulting in a gash to his knee. It is a good day’s walk to the bivvy, and as the hours rolled on I found myself ahead of the pack on my own. I came to a point where the track vanished over a bluff, and after negotiating the bluff, and then the nasty scrub below, I found the very spacious two room rock bivouac. It wasn’t long before the rest of the team arrived, and then after getting comfortable, we enjoyed an epic feast of a ‘Mountain Style’ cheeseboard.

Early-ish the next day I awoke to one of the dogs about 3mm away from my face, and with a jump-scare I was awake! After breakfast in our grand surroundings, we prepared ourselves to continue down the valley towards SH6. The hike was far longer than expected, which really showed how far we had travelled over the last couple of days. As we rounded the bend in the valley we got our first glimpse of Lake Wakatipu, and the sight of the lake was great motivation to continue on. After crossing over the icy waters of Wye Creek, we arrived in the beech forest that covers the lower reaches of the valley. From here it’s an easy stroll past the climbing crags, and then a series of zig zags lead to the car park, and the end of our epic mish. As a couple of the team headed off to retrieve the cars up at the ski field, the rest of us just kicked back on the grass by the car park, and started to reminisce about the amazing journey we had all just been on.

Bayonet Peaks and Lake Wakatipu from Wye Creek

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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