Searching for a Mysterious Shelter – Grebe / Percy Valley

“On a Mish” #260 Grebe Valley / Percy Valley (Borland Road). Fiordland. 10.4.2017. For all its twists and turns the Borland Road has so much to offer. Adventures can range from easy walking to hard hiking, walk up peaks with tracks, to difficult mountaineering / rock climbing. The road offers great contrast between the more open eastside (Borland side), then dense bush on the westside (Grebe). There is a fantastic road cut into the area, and this travels all the way from the power station in Manapouri, over the Borland Saddle(990m), then to Bluff in the very far south. Because the road has been cut into Fiordland in places, you can access areas that would otherwise be very difficult to get to. I usually spend my time on the eastside of the Borland Saddle(990m), but on this occasion I decided to head west and see what the Percy Valley was like…

Like most trips to the area, I started with a camp up on Borland Saddle, and from there I watched the sun disappear, and I knew it wasn’t going to make an appearance for at least the next couple of days. The peaceful night was interrupted by the pita pata of rain on my car’s roof, and by morning the rain had spread throughout the area.

Sunset from Borland Saddle(990m)

Early-ish the next day I was up and on the move, driving towards the Percy Valley with rain now soaking the beech forest on the western side of the saddle. Before hiking I drove down to the South Arm of Lake Manapouri, and my time viewing / taking photos of the lake was cut short by a massive swarm of hungry sandflies. I left the sandflies at the lake and drove back up the road to the locked gate at the Grebe River Bridge. The first section of the hike was in the shelter of the forest, and this made for an enjoyable stroll through a stunning part of Fiordland. Because you are following a nice wide road, you can look around while you walk instead of always looking at your feet. The rain clouds added atmosphere to an already very dramatic place. On some maps there is a shelter marked about an hour or so up the valley. If this shelter does exist then it is in a very hidden spot! Using my GPS I knew I was in the location of the shelter, but there was no sign of it. This changed the plans, as I had hoped to have lunch out of the rain in what I hoped was a sheltered hut. The hut’s location / existence still remains a mystery to this day. Not the end of the world, so I continued along the road towards Percy Saddle. It was around this time that the rain stepped up a notch so, soaked through, I turned back. The valley was a great place to explore even if it was raining. The steep peaks in the valley close in around you, and the cliffs and rock walls looked awesome with clouds swirling about them. In true Fiordland fashion it began to clear on the drive back over Borland Saddle. A stop on the top of the saddle revealed a great view, all the way back down to the Grebe Valley over 800 meters below. One day I hope to return to the area for some climbing, and to also see the place in the dry!

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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