Storm vs Tent – Borland Saddle Ridge Camp

“A Mish a Day” #68 Borland Saddle Ridge. Fiordland National Park. 3.5.2019. The ease of access to the open tops is a massive and unique appeal to the Borland Road and the area that surrounds it. For its massive 1.2 million hectares, Fiordland National Park only has three roads that make their way into and through the massive national park, and only two of these roads are accessible from the New Zealand public road system. The most famous of these roads is, of course, the world famous Milford Road (plus Hollyford Road) which travels north from Te Anau into the park at the Eglington Valley, then over the Divide into the Hollyford Valley and up to the Homer Tunnel. The upper section of the Hollyford Valley is one of the most breath-taking roads in the world. At the top of the Upper Hollyford the road enters one of New Zealand’s crowning achievements, the Homer Tunnel. Finally after travelling through the tunnel the road winds its way down the Cleddau Valley to finish in one of New Zealand’s greatest tourism gems – Piopiotahi / Milford Sound. There is also the Wilmot Pass Road, which starts at the West Arm of Lake Manapouri and travels over Wilmot Pass(671m), then finishes in another incredibly scenic location – Patea / Doubtful Sound. Finally we have the Borland Road, which was forced up the Borland Valley into the Grebe Valley, and finishes near Percy Saddle (near West Arm on Lake Manapouri)…

On this trip I was after an easy camping experience, but with all the extras of a Fiordland Expedition without the long, tough approach through the dense forest to get onto the open tops. So my plan was to follow the Borland Ridge north to Peak 1227m, then set up camp overlooking the Borland Burn. I didn’t have very far to travel so I headed up the road in the afternoon, and was on the Saddle around 4pm. I quickly got my pack ready and started my hike through the mountain tussock to my campsite near the summit of Peak 1227m. The ridge was just wide enough for my tent and, with no soil to put pegs into, I had to find rocks and scrub to secure the tent to. I enjoyed an excellent evening looking out west towards the Townley and Merri mountain ranges, and also looking down directly from camp at the Borland Road over 400 vertical metres below. The inner peace I get when spending the night in my tent perched high on a mountain is my form of meditation, and over time the need for a temporary mental escape has been incredibly valuable.

Sunset from Borland Ridge

The mission took a turn during the night as the nor’west storm forecasted for the next day arrived early, and it arrived in full force. The tent had a mind of its own, flapping around during the night as it was constantly bashed by wind and rain. I was amazed at how it stayed secure to the mountain until first light. As soon as I could see dawn on the horizon I was up and out in the rain, quickly packing everything into my bag, and dismantling my tent. Then in increasingly heavier rain, I made a mercy dash back to the Borland Saddle, and the dryness and comfort of my car. What an epic Fiordland experience!

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

Subscribe To my newsletter