Fresh Start (Part Three) – Holts / Rolleston Camp

“On a Mish” #238 Fresh Start (Part Three). Holts/Rolleston Camp. Arthurs Pass National Park. 1.1.2021. Along with the outstanding scenery, I seek a world without people when I go on a mish. I usually head into the wilderness by myself so I can be on my own in the mountains. I am happy in my own company, and it is not that I have anything against other humans, I just like the fact that in Aotearoa you can have an entire valley to yourself! And in a year when staying away from other humans was encouraged, then finishing that year in a pristine valley sounded perfect. The best way for me to finish 2020, the year that flipped the world upside down…

While gathering more firewood I saw a lone figure stumble stepping their way down the valley towards me. As they got closer, I could see the face of a fella who looked a lot like I’d imagined I look after a very long day in the mountains. A brief chat revealed a tale of climbing over Waimakariri Col(1787m), and then taking the ‘scenic route’ to the Rolleston River via a multi peak traverse over Mt Phillistine(1967m). A challenge far more taxing than what I was up to! Knowing he just wanted the day to end, I wished him a happy new year and he stumbled his way towards his car, waiting next to mine on the roadside next to the Rolleston River Bridge.

Around 9.30pm I was getting ready to retreat to the warmth of my sleeping bag when I first heard and then saw a train going into the Otira Tunnel for the first time. It was a very cool experience, and what I thought was a great way to say goodbye to 2020. As it turned out, it was the last lash of the mongrel tail of 2020. About 2 minutes after the train disappeared into the tunnel, I quickly learnt what the hydro power plant and substation did. The valley was flooded with the noise of the engines powering the huge extractor fans which draw flumes out of the tunnel after each train. The cycle lasted about 45 minutes, and just as the cycle was finishing another train made its way into the tunnel, making the system fire up again for another 45 bloody long minutes! Any other time this would be a random annoyance, but as it was the last couple of hours of 2020 it only seemed fitting for it to be an annoying couple of hours.

Early-ish the next day I awoke to the 5am alarm I had set so I could see the sunrise, but unfortunately the valley was covered in low cloud. This wasn’t a problem as I was just happy to have survived 2020! I packed up quickly and in no time at all I was packing down my tent for the second and last hike out of the valley. All morning, I had a smile on my face and for me it was a great sign that I had started 2021 the right way!

Otira Tunnel Portal

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

Subscribe To my newsletter