Mt Isobel(1319m) – Hanmer Spring’s Mountain

“A Mish a Day” #161 Mt Isobel(1319m). Hanmer Springs Forest Park. 24.8.2012. Surrounded by mountains, with an abundance of hiking, biking and sightseeing, Hanmer Springs is Queenstown’s more mature, less populated cousin. I really like the way the Hanmer Springs Basin looks on the map, almost like someone has used a giant flat stamp to create a level area amongst the mountains of North Canterbury. This becomes apparent as you cross over the deep gorge of Waiau Uwha River, and enter the large basin. North of the village is the closest ‘big peak’ Mt Isobel(1319m), and it can be accessed by many different ways.

I was lucky to get a head start on the peak, as I got a ride up to Jacks Pass(851m), and cut out a lot of the up-hill slog. Jacks Pass itself is an interesting location, as it is the access road to the Clarence Valley, and the massive Waiau Toa/Clarence River. The track up Mt Isobel(1319m) starts off heading east through open tussock, and not long after leaving the road I was in the white stuff above the winter snowline. The track climbed higher into the snow, and I got my first view south of the Hanmer Springs basin, and the mountains of the Tekoa Range beyond the basin. It was also at this point were I saw the trig(summit marker) for the first time, sticking up out of the snow on the summit. The summit view was superb, with Maukuratawhai(1615m) in the north looking awesome in a winter coat of snow, and then the endless peaks blurring into the huge peaks of the Inland Kaikoura Range. Also, far below, the silty waters of the Waiau Toa/Clarence River weaving its way through the mountains to eventually arrive at the Pacific Ocean just south of the township of Kaikoura.

Mt Isobel(1319m)

I now had to turn my attention to hiking back down to Hanmer Springs Village, and I decided to get back to town via the Dog Stream Track. The track had the extra bonus of a visit to the impressive Dog Stream Waterfall(41m), and then the sheltered(super icy) forest walk back to town. I was lucky to have my hiking boots on, as I really needed the grip on the slippery staircases. The snow from the night before had frozen solid on top of each steep, and a fall would be nasty, and probably accompanied with a death slide down the stairs as well. It didn’t take long before I was out of the trees and away from the icy ground, so I could now enjoy the rest of the stroll back into the delightful little mountain town.

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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