Sometimes the weather decides when it’s time to leave – Takitimu Tops Camp

“A Mish a Day” #142 Takitimu Tops Camp. Takitimu Conservation Area. 17.3.2018. Late start. Less than favorable weather forecast. Camping on an exposed mountain side. Sounds great, let’s go! The beautiful peaks of the Takitimu Mountains will always come off second best when compared to the mass expanses of the amazing Fiordland, and I know this is why I haven’t done much exploring in the Takitimu Conservation Area.

Needing a quick camping fix I threw my gear into the car, and charged off towards Princhester Creek, on the northern side of the Takitimu Mountains. A short drive through farmlands leads to Lower Princhester Hut, and the start of the track over Waterloo Saddle(805m), which is part of the southern section of the Te Araroa Trail. The track gently climbs south towards the forest covered saddle, and once I got to the saddle I turned west, in the direction of Clare Peak(1490m). What seemed at first to be some classic bush bashing became easier after I spotted marker tape in the trees. The tape marked a rough track around the worse of the bush and dense scrub, and after a last steep scramble around a bluff, I poked my head out of the forest into the dull grey afternoon light. There was a small tent sized(just) spot on the tree line, and to my surprise camp was quite easy to set up, and had an awesome view across the Waterloo Valley at Mt Hamilton(1487m). I scrambled up to a spot out of the wind on the ridge above camp, and from the elevated point I could see down to the farmlands of the Te Anau basin, and the impressive mountains that surround area. Now it was time for my side mission, a mildly sketchy traverse on steep scree, over a gully across to a waterfall to collect vital drinking and cooking water. It was now time to enjoy the alpine environment, and also time to enjoy some mountain dinner. The high cloud and eastern aspects made for an uneventful sunset, and during the night the wind of the approaching storm front hit.

I had been asleep for a few hours when I was woken by the sound of the tent flapping violently in the wind. The forecast storm wasn’t to far away, and luckily I only had to wait a couple hours before it was light enough to start packing up the tent. The forced early-ish start was rewarded with an evil blood red sky, sending a warning to all that rain was on the way. The wind didn’t help with the pack down of camp, and after a bit of a scramble, the gear was stowed into my pack and it was time to get the hell outta there! I was nearly at the saddle when the rain arrived, and it was a pleasant wander back down the track, through the forest accompanied by the thick rain drops of a good storm.

Tent view of Clare Peak(1490m)

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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