Sugarloaf Pass(1154m) – Part One

“A Mish a Day” #39 Sugarloaf Pass(1154m) – Part One. Mt Aspiring National Park. 10.8.2010. The Routeburn Shelter and hikes from it are becoming more popular as time has gone on. Ease of access to incredible scenery, and the film history is a huge drawcard to the area. After the release of “The Two Towers” (Lord of the Rings) for a while the view from the bridge over Te Awa Wakatipu / Dart River was not of this world, but one of Middle Earth, Isengard to be exact. The buzz created by the movie series has grown the area’s tourism, and it is not uncommon for someone to walk the Routeburn Track just so they could finish the hike in ‘Isengard’. I one guided a young German girl who was sporting an Elvish forearm tattoo which read ‘honorary Kiwi’, referring to her love of both the movies and Aotearoa. Some say Lord of the Rings put New Zealand (Dart River / Routeburn area) on the map, but people have been visiting the place since the late 1800’s.

A track that receives well under a quarter of the visitors compared to the Routeburn Track actually starts from the famous track. The Dart River / Routeburn Sugarloaf(1329m) is yet another rounded mountain in New Zealand named ‘Sugarloaf’. We have six peaks named Sugarloaf in the South Island, a common name given to bread shaped hills. The Sugarloaf(1329m) near the Routeburn Track is the only one lucky enough to sport a stunning view of a piece of movie history.

Upper Peak(2072m) from halfway up the Sugarloaf Pass Track

I headed to the track over Sugarloaf Pass(1154m) during the very cold winter of 2010. Travelling there in my mate Dave’s car, we were forced to drive very slowly, with frost coating all areas not touched by the new day’s sun, including the road from Queenstown to Glenorchy and beyond. Although it was very cold the sky was displaying its best impression of a bluebird day. The Sugarloaf Track can be made into a loop by using the track around Lake Sylvan to the Rockburn / Dart River confluence. Our plan was for Dave to head to the hut via Lake Sylvan, and I would hike over the pass, then we would meet up at the Rockburn in the afternoon. With our breath thick in the cool mountain air we arrived at a frost-coated Routeburn Shelter. The frost was so thick that the white ground was bright enough to warrant wearing sun glasses! We wished each other good luck then parted ways, and I watched Dave’s car crunch its way along the frozen road, breaking the thick ice on the frozen puddles. Nothing like a hike to warm you up on a cold day, and to keep me warm the track almost immediately began with uphill travel…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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