The Friendly Fiordland Mountain – Peak 1476m (Mt Burns Tarns)

“On a Mish” #283 Peak 1476m (Mt Burns Tarns). Hunter Mountains. Fiordland National Park. 11.4.2015. For those familiar with these stories you just might have come across a tale or two about the Borland Saddle. Finding the place by a mix of boredom and chance after moving south to Tuatapere, time and time again I have been on adventures in this area that is only a short drive away. When compared with the granite giants of the north, the Hunter Mountains are more like rolling hills. But these are not hills like the Port Hills of Christchurch. Peaks rise up to 1800 meters above sea level, making the topography like a choppy ocean suspended in time. The Borland Road makes this thin corridor of mountains easier to access, and over time I have ventured out to climb each peak. One mountain I have returned to time and time again is the Nameless Peak 1476m. The large cone-shaped mountain stands to the south of Mt Burns(1645m), and is the area’s most hiker friendly mountain…

This mish started with a classic evening drive from Tuatapere in my van to a campsite on the top of the 990m Borland Saddle. Then an early-ish start the next morning had me striding out across the saddle towards the Mt Burns Tarns Track. As it was early I had the track to myself, and as far as I knew the forecast was for wind, but no rain. A day using your left foot and right foot self-propelled transportation system in Fiordland without getting rained on is an outstanding day!

Just Above the Treeline on the Mount Burns Tarns Track

I made my way past the tarns, and from here the track markers stop and a reasonably good ground track is followed. In good visibility the way to the summit is blatantly obvious, but do be aware that, at this altitude in Fiordland, visibility can drop to only a few feet within minutes. On my way up I hadn’t noticed the sea of white fluffy vision blockers heading towards my planned destination. I got to the final part of the summit ridge in good time, and it was lucky I did as the clouds began to consume the surrounding mountains one by one. I got a brief glimpse of Green Lake before everything went white. I love the atmosphere of the alpine world when the clouds are swirling around, and even though my summit view was taken away I was still loving it… on cloud nine some would say! As I made my way down the ridge I would get little gaps in the cloud, revealing the Grebe Valley far below me. I had to have my finger on the trigger of my camera to capture the limited time views. As if following me, I got down to the tarns as the cloud lowered down to the same level. I descended back into the sub-alpine forest, and as I did I passed the first people I had seen all day, and I hoped they enjoyed the view of the inside of the clouds. The cloud amongst the forest made for an eerie scene, and by the time I got back to my van it was at the same level as the saddle. It took a while driving down the road before I was out of the cloud, and I was very satisfied to have got the views before they were devoured by Fiordland mist.

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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