Making the Most of a Disaster (Part Two) – Hollyford Valley

“On a Mish” #393 Making the Most of a Disaster (Part Two). Hollyford Valley. Fiordland National Park. 26.2.2024. Not much matches the scale of wildness witnessed during a Fiordland storm. Rain as heavy as rain can get, and then it gets a little bit heavier! Every now and then the rain causes the land to slip off the mountainside, leaving nothing but bare rock and a pile of rubble at the bottom. In a place where it seems hiking is near on impossible (if not impossible then certainly bloody tough) without a track, a slip can provide easy access upward. Back in 2012 a disastrous slip hit the Hollyford Road and a huge amount of work went into clearing the road and making it useable again, and I planned to use the road and slip to my advantage. I was going to make the most out of a disaster…

With bags packed I made my way onto the Milford Road. Most on the road at the time had come from much further away than me, and once again I was grateful for the fact I am back down south in the place I love and once again living in the home I worked so hard to buy. I am very happy that the mish to purchase my house was a one and done affair.

Smiling like I had witnessed a Warriors win, I drove up and over the Divide and down into the Hollyford Valley. This starts out sealed and seems like it is as well maintained as the Milford Road, but once the chaos of the Lake Marian Track car park is left in the mirror the peace and quiet consumes you. This is almost the true Fiordland, but for the real deal I needed to ditch the car.

My version of ‘Freedom Camping’ is to drive somewhere and hike away from the car. My hip and back usually only gives me a small distance before the pain says you have gone far enough. Rediscovering the outdoors with camps close to my car has given me a second chance at an outdoor life, One that involves a tent and wilderness. I got to the base of the slip and prepared myself for an adventure.

Using my two-pack system I took my first steps up the slip. I was hoping that up near where the trees suddenly began again there would be a flat spot that I could sneak my tent on. After following the edge of a small creek that flows through the rubble, I came across a location almost to good to be true. I even second guessed my situation for a while as it just seemed too easy. I had to pinch myself as I had found wilderness bliss, and it was a reminder again of how lucky I am to live where I live.

I didn’t want to spend the rest of the afternoon swatting sandflies so after realising that I was going to have a camping site sorted very quickly I started to think about what I would do during the last hours of daylight. I was in paradise, the sun was shining, and it was time to go on a mish within a mish…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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