Going to a Remote Place (Part Three) – Moraine Creek

“On a Mish” #27 Going to a Remote Place (Part Three). Tent Flat back to the Hollyford River. Moraine Creek. Fiordland National Park. 2.12.2009. There are some very misleading names in the wild, and research is key because they can catch the odd person out. For instance Tent Flat in Moraine Creek is named for being the only place you can really pitch a tent between the Hollyford Valley and the massive glacial carved trench that is the Moraine Creek Valley. On my first adventure into the area we were expecting a grassy paddock with near endless places to pitch a tent, but instead we were not only tired but also looking at a damp wetland with very few options available…

The going had been much tougher than expected and we were looking forward to stopping. The mossy track was spongy and soaking our feet with each step. We decided on a small raised area under a large beech tree where there was just enough room to fit our three small tents. Thankfully the drizzle had eased and we got some refreshing glimpses of the mammoth mountains that had been hidden by low cloud until this point.

After establishing camp we attempted to get a fire going with what can only be described as very wet wood. Somehow, with very careful placement, small flames began their futile attempt to dry out our wet boots / everything. At least the fire was a good way to spend the afternoon, as well as just looking around at the very remote location we had clambered to.

The evening became night and due to the cloud we didn’t have any stars, but in a place so steep and stunning this really wasn’t a problem. Once dark our little camp went quiet and we all retreated to our thoughts and sleeping bags.

Early-ish the next morning I peeked out of the tent to see the same spectacular sights I had seen before the light had left us. The Darran Mountains were starting to become, and still remain, one of my favourite places on the planet and we had only just poked our heads into one of its remote valleys. The feeling of aloneness is amplified when you know something like a rescue is easier said than done, and some of the rescues in this place have been among of the greatest of all time. We didn’t want to bother the chopper pilots so after packing up our damp camp we carefully began our descent to the Lower Hollyford Valley.

Our escape was slightly easier than expected and I’m putting that on the fact that we were all guides and every day we would make sure our clients didn’t hurt themselves. Now it was our turn to watch each other. Slowly but surely we pushed on through the flaxes and ferns and eventually found ourselves back at the three wire bridge over Moraine Creek. The rumble of the water under a single wire underfoot wasn’t any less intimidating, and like on the way in, a mistake here would end the trip and your future, so we all put our brave faces on and made it to the others side.

Once back at the car we could start to unwind and take in the epic mish we had just done. It was my first real taste of Darran Mountain gold, and it is safe to say that I really liked it. Now many years later I have had many missions into the Darran Range deep in the heart of Fiordland, but it all started with Moraine Creek and my first wild wander to a very remote location…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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