The Familiar Unknown (Part One) – Peak 1346m (Turret Range)

“On a Mish” #183 The Familiar Unknown (Part One). West Arm / Percy Saddle. Fiordland National Park. 11.11.2017. After having my first taste of the mountains west of Manapouri I was left with craving more like a hungry dog. But unlike my first adventure across Lake Manapouri, this time I was armed with all my camping gear and a plan to visit Percy Saddle for the first time. At this stage I was unaware that this would be the first of many adventures above Lake Manapouri’s West Arm…

An awesome part about of working for Real Journeys was the added option of free access to mountains in very remote places via a trip across the lake on one of the company ferries.

The mighty peaks that loom over the western arm of Lake Manapouri (aptly named ‘West Arm’) aren’t as big and gnarly as the Darran Mountains and other ranges in the northern end of the national park. However, they do offer an incredible amount of uplifted ground to explore and climb, with stunning views to add to the adventure.

For me there is nothing better than hiking into a remote place, and having the opportunity to have a large area of land such as a valley or mountainside, all to yourself. There are very few places left in the world where total seclusion is a possible option, and we are very lucky here in Aotearoa to have many of these places still left untouched. For an adventurer Percy Saddle has it all.

A Stunning View of Lake Manapouri From Near Percy Saddle

The saddle still maintains a remote feeling even though it is near a huge power station in West Arm, and also has thousands of people travelling on the first part of the road to the saddle daily as they visit Patea/Doubtful Sound.

Once you get away from the road to Doubtful the area is usually only inhabited by a gang of Kea and the odd Chamois. With ease you can get into the remote Fiordland hills and this would be an opportunity I would use time and time again while I worked for the company. As I crossed Lake Manapouri for the second time I focused my attention on the power line road heading into the Wolfe Burn Valley and beyond.

As I waited with the other passengers at the Pearl Harbour wharf in Manapouri I looked a little out of place as I was the only person with a full camping pack with an ice axe strapped to the side. The odd question of “where ya heading” was answered with “I don’t know yet”. This answer seemed to confuse both foreigners and Kiwi’s, but at this stage it was the truth!

I parted ways with the other passengers after getting off the boat at West Arm, and once the buses left the small visitors centre the place fell silent and I felt like I was in true Fiordland for the first time.

In increasingly darkening skies I saddled up for my trip up to the saddle, and began my adventure into new surroundings. A new place with the same old Fiordland beauty kept me trudging along with my heavy pack at a good pace, and before I knew it I was deep into the mountains with only adventure on my mind…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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