Blue Ducks & Banter – Part One

“On a Mish” #315 Blue Ducks and Banter – Part One. Monkey Creek. Fiordland National Park. 28.12.2021. We are very lucky in Aotearoa to have the opportunity to see some of the rarest birds on the planet in their homes in our wilderness. Unlike Australia, we don’t see our national animal jumping around all over the place. And even after 15 plus years working in the wild I still haven’t seen a Kiwi outside of an animal park! From seagulls to parrots, ground birds to owls, if it is super rare and a bird we have got it (only just for some)…

I hate to see a sunny day go to waste, however a recent recce up above Dore Pass(1390m) had left me very satisfied but also very sore. With that in mind and only one day off work I had to work out something easy and epic, just like my scramble up to the Cleddau Ledge. To add to the epicness my bro Mark had joined me for our first mish together for 2022. The weather forecast basically forced us to go into the Darran Mountains on the Milford Road, and I was more than happy to oblige. Our plan was to head up to the Upper Hollyford Valley, then cross the river and camp up Cirque Creek. We had all day and a short walk, so we stopped to see the destruction at Gunns Camp (RIP). After the camp we needed a cheer up and nothing does that better than some of the most abrupt mountain uplift found anywhere on the planet. It is nearly impossible to beat the Darran Mountains with a blue sky backdrop, and as we had ample time we decided to have lunch in the sun near Sinks Bridge. Parked up with a view of Mt Christina(2474m) and a pool of crystal clear water beside us, does it get any better than this?!

Mt Talbot(2105m) and the stunning Upper Hollyford Valley

After our feed we readied ourselves for the real adventure, and that began with crossing the mighty Whakatipu Ka Tuka / Hollyford River. It had been raining the day before but from a distance the river looked the same as always. We took our time looking for the best place to cross and after a bit of a bush bash we were standing beside the bubbling mass of pure H2O. Water as clear as the Hollyford makes depth perception very difficult and what looks shallow can come with a nasty surprise. Mark went first as it is probably better to send the non-broken member of the team. And almost immediately the power of the river’s flow showed us we weren’t going to get across without considerable difficulty. After a couple of attempts we aborted crossing at our first spot and returned to the car to drive down the valley to look for another spot to cross. Further down was the same and although it would be an epic place to spend eternity, we both enjoy living and decided that crossing the Hollyford wasn’t going to happen that day. After seeing what the Hollyford River had done to Gunns Camp we weren’t going to become another victim and it was time to start thinking about a plan B

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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