Two Different Worlds – Ben Ohau(1522m)

“On a Mish” #65 Two Different Worlds. Ben Ohau(1522m). Ruataniwha Conservation Park. 5.2.2015. It’s amazing how different the weather can be from Aoraki/Mt Cook Village to Twizel. For two places that are relatively close to each other (65km) sometimes their weather can be worlds apart. They are a good example of why forecasts need to be checked with extra care in Aotearoa, for two places that may seem close together can actually be very different when it comes to the weather…

On one occasion there was heavy rain forecast for the village for at least four days so I knew I wouldn’t be glacier guiding for a while. Having at least a couple of days free was rare so I wanted to make the most of it. I checked the forecast and was surprised to see the weather was much more favourable to the east, so I decided to visit Lake Ohau and climb Ben Ohau(1522m).

Until this point I had driven past the turn off to the lake many times on trips north and south and now it was finally time to turn in and visit the area.

After a morning of sorting gear and cleaning my little house in the village I drove to Greta Stream and then spent the rest of the evening chilling out taking in the views. I had my dinner down by the lake looking up at the west ridge of Ben Ohau (the ridge I was going to climb), before retreating to my van for shelter when drizzle turned to rain. There were showers on and off during the night and in the morning the peaks in the area had a light dusting of fresh snow.

An early-ish start from my van basecamp had me up and about in the fresh morning air. This is my favourite time of the day and having a challenge ahead of you makes for a great start to your day.

The track is easy as it follows an old farm track until near the summit. I decided to mix things up by following the west ridge, which meant climbing up through patches of Matagouri sticking to animal trails before getting onto rock and tussock up higher. The ridge eased back around the 1300m point and I plugged my way through the surprisingly deep fresh snow to the summit.

Looking back towards my home I could see that the mountains of Aoraki/Mt Cook area were covered in clouds, but the views in all of the other directions were epic. I could see all the way across the farmlands to Omarama and Lake Benmore in the south. The view from the top is an excellent way to see the vastness of the MacKenzie Country.

I followed the normal track back down and the whole way down I had an awesome view of the turquoise water of Lake Ohau, and also across the lake to the impressive Mt Sutton(2007m) and the Ohau Ski Field.

The track I followed down is now known as the Greta Mountain Bike Track and would be an awesome ride from and back again to Twizel. By including the summit of Ben Ohau(1522m) the Greta Track is a great day out for those who enjoy any ‘undulating’ mountain bike track, and using the road trip becomes a long loop.

This was an epic way to see the Lake Ohau area for the first time and it was also a way of showing be how different the weather can be just down the road from my home in Aoraki / Mt Cook Village. It really is like they are two different worlds…

Looking Towards the Top of Lake Ohau

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

Subscribe To my newsletter