Savaged By Sandflies (Part One) – Borland Rock Bivouac

“On a Mish” #128 Savaged by Sandflies (Part One). Borland Rock Bivouac. Fiordland National Park. 14.11.2013. I always have to remind myself that Te Namu(Sandflies) are only encountered in the most clean and pristine areas of New Zealand. Water unspoiled mixed with air kept clean by untouched forests usually means torture for unexposed skin. For many it doesn’t matter how stunning the area is, if the sandfly is there they are not. After years of getting munched while I guided on both the Routeburn and Milford Tracks I thought I was used to the bite of Te Namu…

The Borland area is always a good day or two out in the mountains. No matter how many times I visit the area the views will never seem less than incredible, and I always seem to find something new to do.

On this particular trip I was heading to the comforts of a natural rock shelter west of the Borland Lodge and the entrance to Fiordland National Park via the Borland Road. By this stage I had only stayed at the Kea Basin Bivvy and wanted to spend another night in a shelter created by nature. The experience is a must for all outdoor enthusiasts.

The start of the track is near the excellent facilities of the last lodge / staffed accommodation before the wild forests, valleys and mountains of untamed Fiordland. Walking away from the comforts humans have got very used to is an unusual change from the normal track head found throughout our backcountry.

I had a location sorted and a quick check of the weather told me there was evening drizzle predicted for the area. I should be fine as long as I am under the shelter of the rock bivouac, right?

Located on the eastern edge of Fiordland National Park, the track to the bivvy takes you into a forest kept open by the grazing of many deer over the years. It runs through the Hunter Mountains and the deer sign is a real indicator that many a hunter has wandered these woods in search of some venison for the freezer.

Thanks to the lodge serving as an outdoor education centre for kids, the track is lined with information on boards and you can learn a thing or two before heading deeper into Fiordland.

I crossed a swing bridge over the South Branch of the Borland Burn and at this stage everything was going perfectly. The sun was out and it seemed like I had the whole area to myself, an experience that seems too easy sometimes here in Aotearoa.

I enjoyed the fresh air as I continued for a few more kilometres surrounded by beech forest and ferns. I reached the rock bivouac a lot quicker than the signs say, so I had some free time to explore. This was a change from rushing along in the fading evening light hoping the hut is just around the corner.

Before I began to explore around the rock bivouac I paused for a snack, and this was when I first realised there was the odd sandfly buzzing round. At this stage I wasn’t bothered to be joined by the friendly flying vampires. I filled in the time by heading down to the river to collect water and clambering up behind the bivvy to peer over the edge down to my campsite.

As the sun began to set, the numbers of sandflies steadily grew and it wasn’t long before I was completely surrounded by a thin cloud of bugs…

The Borland Rock Bivouac

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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