No Sign of Mankind (Part One) – Double Hill Camp

“On a Mish” #362 No Sign of Mankind (Part One). Double Hill / Rakaia River. 12.1.2023. Having the option of going to a place where there is no sign of mankind isn’t possible for a huge percentage of the world’s population. I am very lucky to live in a country of few people and a lot of wild wilderness to explore. It may seem selfish to want to have a place all to yourself, but once you have had a small sample you will be left wanting to buy the whole cake!

After an over-ambitious outing in Arthurs Pass National Park I needed an outdoor experience that was as satisfying but less taxing on my slowly repairing body. The lack of camping action (just over two weeks) was getting to me but I knew I wasn’t going to be ready for full pack trekking. Sometimes when I look at maps I store locations in the back of my mind, some tough hikes, others spots that I can drive to.

One place I fell in love with after an epic adventure is the mighty Rakaia Valley. Growing up around the Rakaia area has given me a longtime love of the river, and over the years I have slowly crept up the valley ticking off the many hikes that start from the shingle of the single road that runs up the true right of the long valley.

One of my visits to the area has gone down as one of my favourite missions (a trip to the top of the valley with my Cousin), and on that trip I saw river access near the twin mounds known as Double Hill. The joint twin peaks are impossible to miss when approaching the last of the farmlands near the top of the road. I had a rough idea of what the area was like from my visit a few months prior and it believed it would be the answer to my wilderness cravings.

Location sorted, now it was time to get myself there.

I left my home near Christchurch in drizzle and sometimes rain, and this made me question the forecast of ‘dry weather’. As I got further west the clouds began to thin. It was almost like night and day as once I drove beyond the foothills, I was driving in sunshine with only the odd patch of cloud.

Before leaving town and while driving I had had ambitious dreams of climbing to the top of one of Double Hills summits and camping there, but as I got closer my body told me that wasn’t going to be an option. This meant my attention was focused on the Rakaia River and its huge riverbed.

I turned off the gravel of Double Hill Run Road onto a farm track that eventually took me out onto the wide and open riverbed. I kept following the track as it got lighter amongst the trillions of pebbles and once I got to a point where further progress would require crossing the Rakaia River I stopped.

Looking around I realised I had achieved my goal, and as the light began to lower I started setting up yet another epic campsite in a location where there was ‘No Sign of Mankind’…

Camp at the base of Double Hill

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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