Sandflies & Whiskey – Lennox Falls Camp

“A Mish a Day” #73 Lennox Falls Camp. Mt Aspiring National Park. 14.12.2012. Along with the outstanding working environment, another reason I really enjoy guiding is the interaction with the people. To blow somebody’s mind on a daily basis by showing them world class wilderness is a treat, and something that will keep me in this industry for a long time. One of my oldest friends left New Zealand to pursue a career in teaching, but thanks to social media we have been able to keep in touch, and during the 2012-2013 guiding season he returned to Aotearoa for a holiday…

He requested his guide friend (me) show him some of the outstanding scenery I had been exploring and posting about. I have always loved the open grass flats that are surrounded by mountains in the lower reaches of the Rees Valley and with the mighty waters of the Rees River weaving its way through the middle it makes for a stunning mountainous landscape. After reconnecting with each other in Queenstown we headed up the road to Glenorchy en route to the Rees Valley. The hike up the valley is very easy on mostly flat fields, sticking to the east side until the Rees River needs to be crossed just below 25 mile Creek. We both enjoyed the sights, along with some classic hiking banter. The Rees is a major river to cross and time should be taken to find the right section of braids to cross over. And after any heavy rain in the area I know from experience that the crossing should be avoided altogether. The day we walked up the valley the river was running low and there was no rain in the forecast so the crossing was very straight forward, apart from the first chill as the icy water breaks through the defenses of your boots.. The valley also has a rather challenging 4WD track, and even though we were walking, we were about to discover the issues you can face on our way out. Our campsite was excellent, located on a high terrace overlooking the valley, with Lennox Falls rumbling down from its lip 175 meters above us. This was Cameron’s first real introduction to Te Namu (sandflies) and boy did he love them! Like most first time victims, watching him flip out was very entertaining, and no matter how much I assured him that he would get used to them, the grumbling continued well into the night. A sky void of any light pollution gave Cam a taste of a clear night in Aotearoa, and both with a cup of whiskey in hand, we toasted to an awesome day and equally as awesome a campsite (apart from the sandflies, right Cam?!).

Making our way into Paradise

We had an early-ish start the next day and were greeted with perfect hiking weather for our journey home. We packed up after breakfast, headed back over the Rees River and began our hike back down the valley. As we made our way along the trail we saw a 4WD vehicle in trouble, deep in mud and very, very stuck. We tried our best to avoid eye contact as we knew we couldn’t do anything, and by the look of them pushing was only getting them covered in mud with no hope of escape. We were spotted and they called us over for help. The closer we got, the worse their situation looked. We assured them that if we came across another 4WD we would send it their way (to probably get stuck as well), and then we quickly left the scene. We returned to the track and kept going, getting back to the car with no issues apart from always wondering how those fellas were going to get out of that predicament. I wonder if they are still stuck there now! For us it was mission success, and this would be the first of three missions myself and Cam would partake in. Little did Cameron know that these missions were going to increase in difficulty and also drama…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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