Into the Lawrence – An Adventure with the Canterbury 4WD Club

“A Mish a Day” #162 Into the Lawrence. Hakatere Conservation Area. 28.6.2020. When it comes to travel through the mountains, I’ll take my own two feet over a vehicle every time. However due to the reckless actions of a certain fridge door taking away my ability to hike, I had to turn to vehicular transportation to take me to the places I love to go.

Once again I was back in my cousins Suzuki Jimny heading west, and this time it was a little bit different… Adam is a member of the Canterbury Recreational 4WD Club, and they had got permission to cross over the farmland of Erewhon Station to access the Clyde River, and then continue further to the Lawrence River. I was really excited to finally get into country I had looked at on maps for years, due to all my trips around the Hakatere Conservation Area, and the place is just down the road from Lake Clearwater. The forecast for the day was grim, and Adam and I camped out the night before up the Potts River, so we started the day close to Erewhon Station. An early-ish start had us dropping off the unnecessary camping get back at the crib in Lake Clearwater Village in heavy rain, and as we unloaded the last of the gear we heard the rumble of The Canterbury Recreational 4WD Club approaching the small village. We joined the group, and over the radio hear the fellas of the club chatting about the famous Black Panther that supposedly wanders this hills. As we rolled along the road in the rain I could see from the massive line of vehicles behind us from passengers seat of the Jimny, and I knew we were in for an epic day. The lead truck checked us in at Erewhon Station, and then we made our way through The moraine mounds of ‘Jumped Up Downs’, and then out on to the wide expanse of the Clyde River. It was here that we stopped to let air out of the tyres for more comfortable travel in the rocky river beds, and it was at this point I could finally get out and see how big the team really was. There was at least 20 trucks, with heaps of different makes and models, and as the valley was echoing with the sound of tyres hissing, the 4WD yarning began.

Black Mountain(1809m) from the Clyde River

Once the crew was ready the sounds of hissing tyres became the roar of petrol and diesel combustion, and we began to bounce our way over to the true right of the Clyde River. The journey across the valley was rough, but nothing we hadn’t experienced before, and once on the other side we picked up a good track which meant we could cover ground quickly. Once opposite the entrance to the Lawrence River, we crossed back over, and passed the recently renovated Erewhon Station Hut. We were now in the Lawrence Valley, and it is a very impressive part of this beautiful country of ours. The group drove together as far as the track up to Hermitage Hut, and it was here we stopped for lunch with a view. After lunch some of us headed a little bit further up the valley until the rocks were just two big to bounce over, so we turned around and began the long drive back east. The lead vehicle decided to have a go at the true left of the valley for our escape route, and this side of the valley gave everyone’s suspension and backs a good work out, as we went in and out of old braids of the river. Eventually we arrived back at Jumped Up Downs, and then sadly it was back on to the smooth and boring roads back home.

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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