Falls Creek – Tough but very rewarding

“A Mish a Day” #60 Falls Creek. Fiordland National Park. 2.5.2018. We, the lucky few who live in the Te Anau Basin, are always very close to epic mountain country. Easily the biggest reason I bought a house in Te Anau is its proximity to Fiordland. Less than an hour’s drive and I can be totally immersed in the mountains. I’m always blown away by the sightseeing masterpiece that is the Milford Road. So many adventures have begun from a small car park somewhere along it. The hiking from the road is always incredible with a huge amount of options for a mission, and a tough but rewarding gem is the Falls Creek Track…

Often mistaken for a hike to a lookout, the track begins with a steep, rough section to see off (hopefully) any unaware, unprepared and un-geared fellas. After the initial climb the going gradually levels off, and after a few hours of ‘Orange Triangle Hunting’ you arrive in the deep valley that is Falls Creek.. The massive peaks of the Earl Range keep you pushing on up valley, through the Fiordland jungle. Unfortunately just before the open riverbeds of the upper valley I took a wrong turn. I followed a clearing which led me to relentlessly thick sub-alpine scrub and bush. Pushing through this was a mission. I could see easy ground only a few hundred meters away, but between me and easier terrain was a tangle of tough going scrub. After a very long hour I finally got to the riverbed and easily traveled up the valley to where I finally threw down my pack and set up camp. The cirque basin made up of Mounts Ngatimamoe(2164m), Pyramid(2295m), and Suter(2094m) make an impressive and dominating view. I spent the afternoon exploring the upper valley and clambered my way up to the lake under Mt Suter(2094m). On missions into country like this sometimes I feel a little greedy, for I had the entire valley to myself on an absolutely perfect day/ night. The night was clear and the cool air reminded me it was the start of May. In the moonlight I could see the sparkle of frost beginning to coat anything exposed to the elements.

Camp in Upper Falls Creek

I woke to a good freeze which kept me in my sleeping bag a few minutes past early-ish. The fly of my tent was frozen inside and out, and to get out I had to push past the ice to get to the zipper. I packed up my now semi frozen tent and started the hike back down valley. Not long after leaving I came across the often missed Rock Bivvy, which looked very comfortable and dry and a great place to return to one day. On the return journey I could see where I had got the route completely wrong, and ended up going bush. Of course this is part of the fun of visiting a new place, and with another epic adventure nearly finished I made my way back down the steep section of the track towards the road. Just before arriving I ran into a European couple who looked like fish out of water. Wearing jeans and down jackets, the pair was armed with only a camera – nothing else. I got the usual question of “How far to the top” and when I told them it was at least three hours away the girl made the most hilarious face of disapproval. Hopefully they turned back, but for me I was looking forward to getting back to the car and taking off my boots!

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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