Crowded Crags – Part One

“On a Mish” #318 Crowded Crags – Part One. MacPherson Cirque. Fiordland National Park. 6.2.2022. Solace in the mountains is what I seek and usually find in this spectacular country I am lucky enough to call home. For those of us who work in the tourism industry, a weekend is the days you are not working, and those days don’t have to be Saturday and Sunday. This means that mainly I venture out during the times when most of society is busy with their 9-5’s, and this usually means peace and quiet, plus the mountains to myself. Maybe that makes me a little bit selfish, but a country where you can go and have an entire valley to yourself it is a pretty cool option to have….

With New Zealand’s borders closed for a very long time I thought that the fact that it was Waitangi Weekend wouldn’t mean much as far as visitor numbers go… I was very wrong. My original plan was to go on a camping mission to the base of Barrier Peak(2039m) in the Gertrude Valley, a location I had been wanting to camp at for some time. Light southerlies kept the temperature down and the skies clear, and to miss this weather window would be foolish. After a fairly casual morning I gathered my gear and began the just under 100km journey to the upper reaches of the Hollyford Valley. The closer I got to my destination the larger the grin on my face grew. As I headed into the Upper Hollyford I noticed that the Monkey Creek car park was empty. Great! I thought, as I believed this to be a sign of the lack of people. As I approached my goal of the Gertrude Saddle car park I noticed cars parked out on the road. I just assumed this meant you couldn’t park in the normal car park for some reason.

Mount Moir(1965m) and Moirs Mate(1811m)

I was wrong! The car park was so full of cars that people were forced to park out on the road. I was shocked at the number of people and instantly knew I needed a plan B. Luckily just up the road is the McPherson Cirque. A grand place that would make an excellent alternative mission. I drove slightly up the road and was surprised again to see the small car park near full. People were everywhere and it was great to see so many enjoying the stunning weather and incredible scenery. I was now under the impression that wherever I went I would encounter other human beings. Time for a mish, so I locked up my car and took the first footsteps of this adventure. I followed a dry creek bed which took me into the upper valley and began my search for the tent-site I was after. As the Homer Saddle(1375m), access to a popular climbing area, is located on the true right of the valley I wanted to get over to the left. And it didn’t take long for me to spot the perfect spot at the very tippy top of the short but very spectacular valley. With the McPherson Cirque towering above me and a view down the Upper Hollyford Valley I knew I had struck Darran Mountain gold

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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