It’s Better to Tell the Tale (Part Two) – Double Hill / Rakaia River

“On a Mish” #388 It’s Better to Tell the Tale (Part Two). Double Hill / Rakaia River. 11.9.2023. Some of my fondest memories as a child were going to stay with Nanny and Fossil (my Grandmother and Grandfather). Every trip south with my brother and sister seemed like a new adventure and I’m sure I garnered my mission drive from time spent with my grandparents. They taught me that you don’t need much, all you need is each other. Nowadays we are much older and by coincidence moving at a similar pace. But just like back in the day, as long as we have each other I’m sure we will have an adventure…

I knew we were going to have a great time on the drive to Double Hill and the Rakaia Riverbed, but what I didn’t know was how much I would learn about the area. Nanny has lived in this area her entire life and after eight decades she has seen and heard a lot.

We left the plains behind and began to travel up the true right of the mighty Rakaia River. The further west we drove the better the weather got, and by the time we got to the twin mounds of Double Hill we could see the impressive array of peaks that line the western skyline.

We bounced our way off the dusty Double Hill Road and into the northern edge of Hakatere Conservation Park. I was in country I am very familiar with and I knew that within a few minutes we would be at the spot I wanted to pitch the tents. I began to unload the gear and the wind was doing exactly what the forecast said. This was going to be great!

Before I began to pitch each tent I parked Nanny up with a view of the sun setting behind the peaks of the Main Divide. The sky lit up as the last light of the day disappeared. Pinks and purples turned to blends of orange and red. The sunset was painting a picture and this one was a masterpiece!

It’s funny how sometimes in the mountains things can go from woe to go, go, go in only a matter of moments. We went from admiring the magic of a sunrise to mad panic as an unexpected wind change.

After arriving I had set the camp up for wind coming down the Rakaia Valley and all of a sudden it swung around and began to cause chaos at camp. My tent is used to the wind and has survived some wild nights out in the mountains. However, the other tent suddenly lifted off the ground. I started looking for a way to ground the airborne tent and luckily because we were on a riverbed many rocks were available. Eventually I got enough weight in the tent to settle it down and then I went to work securing the structure to the ground.

Nothing like a bit of drama to get you blood pumping and even though it was a real mish getting everything under control, I enjoyed the challenge / training that came with the unexpected stressful spectacle.

After getting the tents sorted we decided to have our dinner in the comfort of the car and this was an excellent option as it got us out of the wind. It is amazing sometimes how different a little bit of shelter can feel after being barraged by blustery conditions. Now that we were safe and sound we could laugh about the wild situation we had just survived!

After dinner we began to wind down and get ourselves sorted for a night on the Rakaia Riverbed. Considering this was supposed to be a quiet night out with my 85 year old grandmother, we had already had some unplanned and unexpected ‘interesting’ situations and now it was time to sleep it all off.

Our mission wasn’t going the way I had planned it, but we were still enjoying ourselves (sometimes secondary fun!) and knew we were going to wake up in an epic location. I was now positive that if we had told my mother and uncles about what we were up to they would have tried to stop us going. For some reason they think people in their eighties should be camping in a remote location. Sometimes it is better to ask for forgiveness than ask for permission. Knowing this means I have to make sure Nanny has no issues and enjoys herself. So really for this to work in my favour all we have to do is survive the night and then return with a tale to tell…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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