A Wander in Wine Country – Mt Rosa(1322m)

“A Mish a Day” #172 A Wander in Wine Country. Mt Rosa(1322m). Remarkables Conservation Area. 14.7.2010. I am always fascinated by the perfect grape growing micro-climate when driving through the small vineyard covered Gibbston Valley. Overlooking the south side of the valley is the large mound of Mt Rosa(1322m). With a spare day during the very cold July of 2010, I decided I needed to go for a hilltop hike. By chance I saw a Gibbston Valley Walking Tracks brochure in the Hamilton Road guide flat (Routeburn Track guide house), which mentioned the track up Mt Rosa(1322m)…

An early-ish start and a careful drive on the icy roads, took me to the small frozen car park in the shade. Just around the corner from the ever crumbling Nevis Bluff, the area is rich with both history and grapes. A good frost coated the area and made for a chilly start. Nothing like seeing your breath in the cool air as if your insides are a well stoked pot belly stove, and your mouth the chimney puffing away with each exhale. The route to the top of Mt Rosa(1322m) mostly follows old farm tracks, as they zig and zag their way up and down the steep countryside. The first view into the Gibbston Valley takes some effort, as the track climbs almost to the very top of Mt Mason(1020m).

Looking down to State Highway 6

Once finally on top the puffing and panting is instantly replaced with ohhhs and ahhhs at first sight of the large mountains of the Tapuae-o-Uenuku / Hector Range and the unmistakable sight of the jagged peaks of the Remarkables. From here the quad and calf muscles groaned at the sight of the small drop down to Antimony Saddle(961m). This is then followed by the final climb up another series of zig-zags to the top of Mt Rosa(1322m). Undulating terrain is as much a mental challenge for the hiker as it is a physical one. I continued on, crunching through the winter snow on the ridge, and looking down at the cars making their way along the road through the thousands of rows of grapevines. I finally zigged my last zag to arrive at the slightly higher East Peak(1324m), and then crossed a snow-filled plateau to the summit of Mt Rosa(1322m). What a spot for lunch! Far below me were row upon row of grapes glistening in the sunlight. I placed my pack in the snow for a seat, and then enjoyed a quality sandwich with a stunning view of the snow-covered pinnacles of Single Cone(2307m), and Double Cone(2319m), the tops of the Remarkables. I reluctantly dragged myself away from the incredible view, and began the journey back down to my car on the State Highway 6 roadside. The journey down was aided by the steps I had kicked into the snow on the way up, and it wasn’t long before I was dropping back down the east side of Mt Mason(1020m) towards the hum of the busy highway. For a quick half day trip the Mt Rosa Track was perfect. Just enough work to let your legs know they are alive. And of course there is the stunning view waiting for you at the top!

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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