The Borland Road to Recovery (Part Two) – Borland Rock Bivouac

“On a Mish” #287 The Borland Road to Recovery – Part Two. Borland Rock Bivouac. Fiordland National Park. 15.6.2021. There are parts of Fiordland National Park that are more jungle than forest, which took some getting used to at first because before guiding I always assumed it had to be hot to be a rainforest. Having the southern-most rainforest in the country / world means that, if you head into Fiordland more than once, you are likely to encounter rain at some stage, hence getting the monicker ‘rainforest’…

The fact that water falls from the sky often is far from a bad thing (as long as you are away from any flood waters) as the place comes to life with the rain. The rumble of a stream or creek is noise you can feel as well as hear, and the constant soaking enhances the greens of the ferns and moss which look as lush as possible. The soaking is usually just on the edge of overwhelming the plants with water.

Apart from the chance of having wet boots, there is very little ‘bad’ in hiking in Fiordland in the rain, as long as you plan wisely and make smart decisions.

As I made my way along the North Borland Valley track I knew I had made the right decision and as I got into a semi-comfortable stride I marveled at the environment around me. The rain had just stopped, meaning there were drips still clinging to the leaves of the trees. The sun was beginning to shine through the gaps in the canopy and this made the water droplets sparkle with the newly introduced light, and a light mist formed in places where the air was still. This wasn’t a forest, this was a jungle!

Removing / trapping the introduced pests like possums had given the forest time to grow back to its original incredible self. And I found myself with the entire place to myself apart from the many birds who enjoyed the help with the rodent problem!

I got to a very swollen Borland Burn (river) and it was impressive to say the least to see it in full flow, a spectacular and intimidating sight to see. All of the side streams were up and in places the water had spilled over onto the track. There were also spots where the groove of the track had filled with water from the side streams, and had it not been for the markers on the trees you wouldn’t keep walking towards this rather damp area. A classic ‘uninviting section’ of Fiordland trail!

The North Borland Burn (river)

With about 70% of the track above the reaches of the river so dry-ish, I did my best to dodge the waterlogged sections which meant a bit of bush bashing. It is very important to not stray too far from the marked track as it is easy to get disoriented in such a vast forest. 10 metres away from the track might as well be 100 miles, as features all begin to look the same. Many search and rescue missions have found unfortunate people only a few minutes walk away from a marked track. I made sure to not lose the orange triangle behind me before I located the next. In one spot I was heading in the wrong direction for a few seconds and luckily instinct kicked in and I was able to relocate the track without any major issues.

The undulating track took me back to another lower flooded area and this part of the track looked like a long little lake. What was bound to happen at some stage occurred in a sock soaking splash, and it was wet feet from there onwards.

I was moving at the DoC times to the minute, which I was very happy with, but this was causing considerable soreness in my hip. Before my hip injury I would usually hike the tracks around New Zealand faster than any of the times on the signs, but I was happy to be moving at this speed post-injury and, to preserve my broken bits, I slowed my pace a little.

My starting time meant it was now well into the afternoon, and this made me think about how committing a trip to a hut / bivvy is. Usually I have my tent with me and this means I can stop anywhere with a flat spot and have shelter. Without my tent I was now committed to getting the rock bivvy.

I weaved my way through the beech forest, and through the trees I saw the unnatural lines of a man made object. What is that box shaped thing? It was the bivvy’s long drop toilet! And then with a quick scan I also saw the enormous rock that is the Borland Rock Bivouac. I had made it to my planned destination for the night, and now it was time to enjoy the place free of sandflies – and for the entire night this time!!

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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