Remote and Broke – Borland Breakdown

“On a Mish” #256 Borland Breakdown. Borland Road, Fiordland National Park. 28.12.2018. Those who know me know I’m a big fan of the Borland Road ( for evidence see – ). The road is one of only four that are within the national park’s boundary, and it is by far the least used. Cut into Fiordland during the sixties for the Manapouri Power Station, this road is a remarkable achievement. From thick mud to solid rock, the workers had to deal with it all (not to mention the millions of sandflies!)…

The road remains to this day, and is maintained so workers can access the hundreds of power pylons that tower out of the Fiordland soil like great Rimu or Kahikatea. As soon as I learned the public could access the road I began my relationship with the area. There are some excellent hikes that can be approached via the road, and with only the effort of driving the road takes you into the heart of south east Fiordland. The mountains accessed from the road are all unique challenges in their own ways, and over the years I have ticked off a few myself. After a busy week working in Patea / Doubtful Sound I needed a get away, so I decided that the Borland Road would be the best place to unwind from the busy week. I threw my gear into the car, and hit the road straight after finishing work. And by late afternoon I was high up on Borland Saddle (990m) enjoying the view with a brew and dinner cooking on my camping stove. I had an excellent cloud display, and from my mountain grandstand seat I could see the clouds telling me rain was on the way. I retreated to bed after witnessing an incredible sunset, and just as I was sorting myself out for sleeping the first of many wind gusts hit the side of my car. I woke in the middle of the night to rain and wind buffering the car, but this was no issue, and I really enjoy being nice and warm (and dry) in the wilderness during a storm.

Sunset from Borland Saddle

Early-ish the next day I got up to see the rain was now just drizzle, and it cleared as I prepared my breakfast. I drove from the saddle down into the Grebe Valley, then continued to the end of the road at Lake Manapouri’s south arm. I had only passed one other vehicle on my journey to the lake, so the place had a very remote feel to it, little did I know that feeling was going to increase x1000. I spent the morning exploring the true right bank of the Grebe River, before returning to the car with a camera full of excellent nature pics. Happy and contempt I turned the key to find that the car wouldn’t start. Now the area felt as remote as ever. Lucky for me after about 20 minutes of wondering what I was going to do, a car rolled down the road and it turned out the vehicle’s occupants were not only from Te Anau, but also lived just around the road from me! I got a lift home, then returned with my mate PJ to retrieve my car. It turned out the fuel pump was on its way out, but somehow we managed to start the car and slowly drive it back to Te Anau. It seems even when intending on a casual quiet mish it always turns into an EPIC!!

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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