Returning the Favour – Mt Oxford(1364m)

“On a Mish” #22 Returning the Favour. Mt Oxford(1364m). Oxford Forest Conservation Area. 12.6.2010. Getting young people into the outdoors is very important. It is also important to teach youngsters how lucky we are to have New Zealand as a backyard playground. To entertain my little brother I remember as a kid my parents driving us all over the show, and I believe this was the precursor to my love of exploring. Now that I am older it seems that the shoe is on the other foot, for I am now the one who takes them out for a drive to go exploring!

Julie, Jeremy and I decided to head to Mt Oxford a couple of days after my birthday on a chilly Sunday in June, and to oversee the operation we had Boston and Casper. The early-ish start from Ladbrooks had us driving in the early morning light west across the Canterbury plains towards the foothills and the start of the Wharfedale / Mt Oxford(1364m) Track.

The frosty ground was crunching underfoot as we unloaded the two dogs and started off up the track. The area was still in shade and anything exposed to the outside was covered in a layer of frost, and our breaths were thick in the still winter air. After an hour or so we turned off the Track to Wharfedale Hut, and onto the Oxford summit track.

The wander through the Oxford Forest is excellent, and the added icy factor made the place a winter wonderland. We began the climb with some snow on the side of the track as we gained altitude and it was obvious that the snow was going to get a lot thicker higher on the mountain. By the time we had climbed up to Point 1124m, the snow was deep in places and also icy where it had been exposed to the wind. Just below the 1300m point Jeremy turned back with Boston (dog) I think he had to tend to the dog’s altitude sickness or something?

Plugging through snow on the western side of the track

Julie, myself and Casper (other dog) continued to the summit with a bitterly cold wind cutting through every layer of clothing. Hood up and head down, we pushed on across the mountain’s massive summit plateau. We finally got to the summit trig (marker) and were rewarded with views of the Lees Valley in the west. And looking east we could see right across the broad expanses of the Canterbury Plains to the Port Hills and Banks Peninsula.

We briefly soaked in the views as the strong wind picked up the surface snow then proceeded to powder blast us with it. A fantastic place to be but also not a place to linger, as dark clouds were beginning to roll in from the west and the forecast mentioned afternoon showers.

Together we carefully made our way down the icy slopes and there were a few tricky points which tested our boots’ grip. Using the steps we had kicked in on the way up made going down much easier, and after getting into the forest we were finally out of the wind and no longer stumbling around in snow. We caught up with Jeremy and Boston and then continued down to the car park. It was nice to return the favour to my parents and Mt Oxford(1364m) is now one of many mountains we have hiked up together. As far as mountains go this is proof that the hike is a great family adventure, although I do recommend you tackle the mountain in summer!

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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