The Dogs Tail Camp – Part Three

“On a Mish” #246 The Dogs Tail Camp (Part 3). Dogs Range. Hakatere Conservation Park. 1.2.2021. After bidding farewell to my pack horses, I continued on towards the highest of three terraces on the flats below Dogs Hill(1067m) looking for the perfect spot to pitch my tent. I didn’t have to go very far before finding an awesome spot overlooking the Ashburton / Hakatere River. The wind that had cooled the effects of the sun had eased, and the evening was warm. I have never been into Hakatere Conservation Park at this time of the year, and the lack of snow on the mountains changed the landscape drastically…

For years I would return to Christchurch during the winter months for work, and on my days off I would go on winter adventures, usually ending up somewhere in Hakatere. There is something so alluring about the barren landscape. Rolling hills covered in golden tussock and grey rock. And in winter the snow caps each peak, and only the largest rocks penetrate the winter coating of ice. Having only hiked in winter also means I am used to carrying a large pack full of extra warm layers and other items required for winter travel. After setting up camp I realised I had far too many items in my pack, and the warm wind gusts reminded me it was far from a cold winter’s day. As the sun began its descent behind the two giant lumps that are Mt Guy(1319m) the air was still very warm, and there was no need to reach for my down jacket. After enjoying dinner sitting on a rock looking down at the Ashburton / Hakatere River I retreated to my sleeping bag to get some much needed sleep. I was feeling the effects of a reasonably big pack pushing down on my hip, and I had walked a little bit longer than expected. Even though I had pitched my tent on a rock which I thought was a soft bush of tussock, I still fell asleep reasonably quickly. I awoke during the night to the noise of something in the scrub near my tent, and I was amazed to find the night lit up like day by an impressive bright full moon. I managed to get back to sleep until I was woken by my 5.30am alarm. I was keen to take in the sunrise and getting up early paid off. From my vantage point I watched the clouds in the east change from cold dark grey to a peachy red, then an overpowering bright yellow light forced its way over the Taylor Range and a new day began.

I decided to head home early, and I wanted to somehow get all of my gear out in one trip. After packing my tent into my large pack I clipped one of my smaller packs to my front, then swung my bigger pack on my back. The load was rather intense, and I had to make lots of stops on my slow journey back to my car. I was relieved when I saw my car again, and with slow plodding steps I made my way towards the end of the mission. After returning home I heard from my sister, and she said the kids love the trip out with their old uncle, even if it didn’t seem like it at the time. This was very good news to hear, and hopefully the hike in Hakatere will become one of many trips to the mountains as a team of wilderness explorers

Early-ish Morning in Hakatere

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

Subscribe To my newsletter