Mid Mish Bliss (Part One) – Rangitata Valley

“On a Mish” #390 Mid Mish Bliss (Part One). Rangitata Valley. Hakatere Conservation Park. 16.1.2024. I had grown used to going on a mission with a partner. Having another soul enjoying the adventure was something I didn’t realise I needed. And now that I don’t have my little friend by my side, I have lost a lot of my motivation to get out and about. While my mate isn’t here the mountains definitely still are, and while I can’t have one, I might as well make use of the other…

It’s no secret that I really love going into Hakatere Conservation Park. At first it was simply a place to visit, and then it became a place to play. My normal pattern for many years was to spend my winters in Christchurch and my summers in the south guiding. After I hurt my hip, I really realized how beneficial the area would be during my recovery. As if recovering from a busted hip and back wasn’t enough, I now had to recover from losing my best bud and where better than my old stomping ground?

A New Year’s trip to the top of Dogs Hill (1067m) with Ernie’s ashes had reminded me how beautiful the moments of sunrise and sunset can be when camping. Mid mish bliss is when you gather inspiration that will work as fuel for the next wilderness wander. As sad as my trip with Ernie’s ashes was it was just enough to kick my mountain motivation motor back into gear, and with the weather over Te Waipounamu/the South Island looking as good as it can get for camping, I gathered gear and headed west.

My plan was to camp near my car due to my hip and back being a nuisance. Luckily, I have had a mission up my sleeve for some time, and now was the time to action my plan. I knew I could get close to the Mid Rangitata Riverbed in my car, so I hoped I could find somewhere to pitch my tent close by.

After crossing the plains and driving through Lake Clearwater Village I arrived at the start of the rough 4WD track that leads out onto the riverbed. The last time I was here the area had been rearranged by heavy rain and rushing water which had not only destroyed part of the track, but had also washed away some of the paddocks on the edge of Mt Potts Station. I was just keen to get as far as I could and then camp.

After turning off the road which runs through Lake Clearwater to Erewhon Station I paused for a moment. Not far from the main road was a campervan parked on the side of the track. I thought at first that the van marked the end of the road, however on closer inspection I found a track that the CR-V could handle.

It didn’t take me long to reach the spot I had come to a few months before. To my surprise I saw a faint track going through what was once a rocky barrier. I was now on new terrain, and it looked like I was going to be able to go further than expected. I crept to a point where I had to negotiate bigger rocks and where I thought I might face trouble the very basic Honda which was built in 1997 handled the terrain heroically like a champ.

Eventually the track took me to a spot where Powerhouse Stream runs swiftly, and the track became a little bit too much for my liking. By now I had gone much further than first planned and in front of the car was a spot that I could park beside. It looked like there was going to be very little hiking on this mish, and my hip and back was thankful that it wouldn’t be taking any strain today.

Looking around made me very happy. I was mid-mish and in the middle of the Rangitata Riverbed. I was very quickly remembering why I used to do this so often…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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