Deep in Sandfly Country (Part Three) – Tutoko Valley

“On a Mish” #296 Deep in Sandfly Country (Part Three). Tutoko Valley. Fiordland National Park. 19.4.2015. Aotearoa sat un occupied by humans for a very long time. This gave the place a chance to become a haven for many rare and unusual animals (mainly birds). Like with Captain Cook I’m sure Kupe and his team would have been fascinated by the exotic creatures that can only be found in this small group of islands in the South Pacific. I’m also nearly positive that just like Cook, Kupe would have taken his first steps onto this new land only to be instantly annoyed by one of New Zealand’s smallest and yet most persistent critters…

After a long walk in the forest we had got to points where we could see what would be around our campsite. It looked good and we couldn’t wait to find a spot and chill. The forest eased to a series of small clearings and then we eventually arrived at the Tutoko River directly opposite the Age Glacier. This is the way most people climb Mt Tutoko (unless using a chopper!), but our goal was to just get to this very place. The taste of success was sweet and after a few moments of grandeur gazing we went to work setting up our campsite.

Almost as soon as we started to get gear out of our bags we were swarmed. It was like we disturbed a nest as within a few seconds we were both fully surrounded by the unhappy occupants of this part of the river. Due to both of us working in Fiordland for years we thought we could just put up with it. We were wrong.

At one point I had all of my body covered and even a buff covering my entire head. This didn’t work as the nasty little buggers would just find their way through our clothing and then sink their teeth into our flesh. After about ten minutes of terror we decided that this wasn’t going to be our campsite.

After losing a couple of litres of blood we relocated to a point we had passed on the walk in. It might have been slightly different to our original plan but it was away from the Sandies and that’s all that mattered.

Our evening was spent just looking and admiring some of the most scenic mountains on the planet. It was a true epic place, even with all of the Sandflies being as annoying as possible. Eventually we decided we had had enough awesomeness and with that our day was over.

Early-ish the next morning we were up early and it would seem that along with the oncoming storm, Te Namu had also found our new camping spot. They were no were near as bad as the day before, but still annoying enough to help us pack up a little bit quicker than usual.

Knowing the way out and knowing that we were going to be bog bashing made our escape much quicker. We blasted our way towards the Milford Road and just after heading buses and cars for the first time we bumped into a group of well-dressed girls who resembled a fish out of water. We were confused when ask ‘How far is it?” because we had no idea how far up the valley they wanted to go, and they were also not really dressed for a Fiordland mission. We left them to it and it wasn’t long before we were on the roadside beside our car watching the tourists making their way to Piopiotahi Milford Sound.

The mish was awesome even though we got attacked by millions of Sandflies and couldn’t camp where we wanted to. I had to just keep telling myself that Te Namu only lives in the most pristine places on Planet Earth, and the Tutoko Valley is right up there with the best. Our mish deep into Sandfly country was a reminder that in the remote parts of Aotearoa we are only visitors, and sometimes lunch for the little hungry flies that live in paradise!

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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