Leaving Wanting More (Part One) – Grassy Flat Hut

“On a Mish” #74 Leaving Wanting More (Part One). Grassy Flat Hut. Kelly Range – Styx River Area. 4.10.2011. The West Coast of the South Island (Te Wai Pounamu) is a place I have always flown through, and never spent more than a couple of days exploring. I have always wanted to venture west and do some ‘real’ adventures in a place that was built for it. My short stints have always left me leaving wanting more, and this was the case when I ventured up the Styx Valley in route to Grassy Flat Hut…

My original plan was to spend about a week on the coast checking out some of the many tracks that start from the main highway (State Highway 6). However, my plans were changed when I was given the opportunity to head to my wild workplace at Ultimate Hikes early and do some odd jobs. My week turned into one night and because I was packed and ready for a mish I decided to head to Queenstown to start work via the West Coast anyway.

Sometimes the best adventures start with altering the plans to suit the weather, track conditions, or in my case (and probably so many other people’s cases) time was the main issue. Luckily New Zealand is a place where there are over 950 huts to choose from and tens of thousands of kilometres of track to hike.

This was once a road that was supposed to go from the West Coast to the East Coast.

I wanted something easy as I would be driving from Christchurch and beginning my hike, and then after hiking back to my car I would be driving to Queenstown. After scanning the map I decided to head to Lake Kaniere and check out the Styx Valley. The valley is the Start / Finish to the famous ‘Three-Passes Trek’ which takes you from Lake Kaniere up and over multiple passes over the Main Divide to the Waimakariri Valley. I’d love to do the full trek one day but for now I only had time to visit one of the many huts dotted along the route.

After leaving the cars and concrete behind in Christchurch I head up and over Arthurs Pass and was I driving alongside Lake Kaniere around early-ish afternoon. The lush forest with snow capped peaks above made for an incredible start to my mish, and also reinforced my want to have more time to explore this awesome area of Aotearoa. For now, I will enjoy the one night I have available and hopefully the future will bring more opportunities to head west where some believe the bush and mountains are best!

The trail up the Styx River starts on farmland and then enters the forest. Once away from the farmed areas the track is noticeably wide. This is because once upon a time there was a road constructed which was supposed to go up and over the Main Divide. Unfortunately for the builders of this road the bush said no, and the idea was scraped. This means in places the track is nice and flat and also wide enough for a horse drawn carriage. In such a unforgiving environment it is weird to come across a track like this. While taking in the scenery I was happy that this place wasn’t messed with too much, and now it is a location for hikers and explorers instead of cars, buses, and trucks.

I had timed my mish very well with the weather, as a storm had blown through the night before and right from the get go I was clambering over treefall. The track might have been wide, but that doesn’t make negotiating fallen trees any easier. What at first seemed like an easy outing was becoming a game of tree-hoping…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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