Grandeur on Steroids (Part Two) – The Upper Rakaia

“On a Mish” #352 Grandeur on Steroids – Part Two. Mid Rakaia to Evans Hut. Upper Rakaia River. Canterbury. Aotearoa. 7.10.2022. I am very lucky to have a hobby / obsession that I can partake in on regular occasions, and in a way I am also lucky that even though I am broken I can still do what I love (with many restrictions). Many times lately I have got myself to an excellent location and then chilled out in an almost meditative state. These lowkey missions have usually involved a drive to the entrance of a valley and then a very short walk to a suitable spot. For my mind and body the trips have been as important as the painkillers I have been prescribed and without these easy missions I might have gone crazy! As enjoyable as it has been, there have been times during these outings that I have looked up the valleys wondering what the top is like?

After unloading the Jimny off the trailer we did our final checks before beginning our adventure and tackling the biggest challenge in the valley, the mighty Rakaia River. The river is wide with many braids, and along with the Rangitata River is one of the biggest barriers in the country when travelling on foot or by vehicle. Most people hiking Te Araroa (the New Zealand Trail) completely avoid the rivers by hiking miles out of the way to the few bridges that span the large waterways. My cousin and I have lived around the Rakaia area most of our childhoods, and we have both always dreamed of heading up the valley, but before that we had to cross the river to get to the Manuka Point side.

Not many people do not get to cross the glacial waters of the Rakaia and due to Adam forgetting his glasses we got to do it twice within ten minutes! After our bonus crossing we continued up the valley on the farm tracks of Manuka Point Station. The tracks were no problem at all for the Jimny and we made up the valley much quicker than anticipated. After reaching a location known as Totara Point we left the beaten track and began to tackle the many washed-out side streams. The many boulders made the Jimny jump up and down like it was in a mosh-pit, and after about three minutes of rough travel I was feeling like I had gone a few rounds with David Tua (in his prime). Eventually I came to the realisation that walking would be better on my body and I could also look for the best line for the truck to take to get through the maze of rocks.

Our initial goal over the three day mission was to get to Evans Hut, which is located just over 20km up the valley. We both thought that we might not be able to make it up the valley that far, however thanks to the mighty Suzuki we managed to get all the way up to the hut on the first day…

Sunset from Evans Hut Camp

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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