Mt Borland(1547m) – Last of the Borland Peaks (Part One)

“On a Mish” #145 The Last Big Mountain (Part One). Mt Borland(1547m). Fiordland National Park. 23.3.2019. Large mounds of material sitting in silence as they oversee the land they stand over. For what is basically a pile of rocks and dirt, mountains sure do look good. Along with their visual appeal the peaks lure outdoors folks like a fish to a worm on a hook. After spending a considerable amount of time in the Borland area I had managed to climb most of the peaks that are directly above the road. It finally got to a point where there was only one left, one last big mountain…

The pull of the mountains is what drew me in and hooked me into buying a house in Te Anau. To the north are the mighty Darran Mountains, and to the south is the outdoors action packed Borland Road area. The contrast between the two places is drastic and yet both in Fiordland. I highly recommend a visit to both places when in Aotearoa / New Zealand.

Weekend map browsing on a rainy day helped me realise that I had stood atop all but one big mountain around the road. With a fine spell on the horizon I planned a mish to camp somewhere on it and then scramble my way to the top. As the sun rose on a clear day in March I packed my bags and headed south.

The distinctive pyramid shape of Peak 1547m (Mt Borland) always looks impressive when driving towards the Hunter Mountains from the east along the Borland Road. To me this will always be Mt Borland(1547m) due to its central location amongst the peaks of the Borland area and it really should have a name instead of just its height!

I made my way up the gravel of the road, passing Borland Lodge in the afternoon sun, and as I got closer I got more excited.

Knowing I only had around 1km to travel on day one of my mish, I left home during the afternoon and took my time getting to the base of the mountain. To access the basin below the peak I followed a small creek until it became a series of waterfalls in a gorge. Following the creek became impossible so I took to the steep forest-clad face to my left. What I thought was going to be an uphill stroll through open forest very quickly turned into a battle between boy, bag and bush. The undergrowth below the high canopy of the forest was thick with seedlings and juvenile beech trees all clustered together. I had to carefully negotiate my way around to avoid becoming tangled in little trees that seem almost unbreakable. It took me a surprisingly long time to get through the tangle of Fiordland forest and out into the basin above. For the ‘easy part’ of my journey it definitely had me sweating!

Once above the tree-line I was out of the forest but not ‘out of the woods’ yet. Following the trees was a field of nasty sharp Spaniard plant. Just beyond it was an excellent camping spot amongst the soft golden tussock. The alpine world in Aotearoa is both harsh and inviting. Like the way the weather differs between a Southland bluebird stunner or ferocious Fiordland deluge, the two plants are completely different but grow in the same places. A few scratches later I was dropping my bag and surveying the epicness I had thrown myself into.

While setting up my tent I heard the call of a few Kea and in a semi-panicked state I looked up to see them high above my camp. As much as I love Kea (my favourite animal) I know from experience that they can make a real mess of a campsite. One swooped down for a closer inspection, but luckily they didn’t bother my camp.

As per the norm on a Borland mish, the Fiordland sunset was a masterpiece. And after the warm glow of the sun vanished, the cool evening took over and the temperature began to drop. I was looking forward to being nice and cosy in my sleeping bag, but first I had a sunset to watch. The evening light turned the granite bluffs of Mt Burns(1645m) orange, red and finally a light pink, before the sun disappeared and everything went back to grey. With a sky covered in stars above I enjoyed a still and peaceful night in my tent, excited about what was to come…

Mt Burns(1645m) from the Basin Below Mt Borland(1547m)

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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