Molesworth Station – Recovery Camp (Part 1)

“A Mish a Day” #221 Island Saddle Recovery Camp (Part 1). Molesworth Station, Marlborough Region. 20.11.2020. In the quest to heal up and get on with my life I have been open to anything to speed the bloody slow healing process. Multiple physio appointments a week, along with a massive diet change (including a three day water only fast) has definitely helped, and it was time to test the new body out. After a mission into the area above Hanmer Springs with my cousin, I knew that it was only a matter of time until I returned…

A big highlight of our mission into Molesworth Station was crossing over Island Saddle on the alpine section of the road to Nelson. The road climbs to over 1400 meters above sea level, and is buried in snow during the cold months of winter. Still unable to put too much weight on my hip I went for my multiple pack technique, and spread out the weight of my camping in two packs. With a forecast of rain clearing, I left Christchurch and headed north. With drops of rain still hitting the windshield I began the climb over Jacks Pass, leaving the smoothness of a sealed road and it was gravel from here onwards. The change in scenery from the car, concrete and homes at Hanmer Springs was a breath of fresh air for a longtime mountain landscape enthusiast. From the neat rows of pine trees and paddocks, to barren grey and yellow mountains covered in scree and tussock. Now in the Clarence Valley, I continued alongside the tranquil waters of the Upper Clarence River on the Tophouse Road, towards Lake Tennyson. The weather continued to improve as I drove past the old St James Homestead, and it was here that I saw one of the only three cars/buses that I would see on the entire trip. Yet another stunning part of New Zealand where someone can go and see breath-taking scenery, and very few other people. The lack of not only trees, but also wildlife makes the area seem so much more remote, not a place for someone who gets lonely easily.

Looking south from Peak 1466m

The mighty CR-V made its way past Duncans Stream, the epic campsite of the last visit to the area. The Wairau Hanmer Springs Hydro Road heads north east near Lake Tennyson, and enters the South Island’s largest farm, Molesworth Station. The road follows the network of power-lines that cross over Island Saddle, and continues towards the South Island’s northern reaches via the Rainbow Valley. With the sun now dominating the sky above, and a keen southerly pushing the clouds away, I arrived at the top of the saddle ready for a walk. My plan was to climb the small peak west of the saddle, and camp somewhere out of the wind on the northern side of the peak. Taking in deep breaths I could instantly tell my fitness wasn’t what it used to be. Steep mountain terrain that would‘ve been no problem before my accident, now was a grueling battle with my rubbery legs and stubborn mind. Seeing the outstanding view after topping out on Peak 1466m gave me a much needed second wind, so I could make the journey back down to the car for my second pack…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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