The Omarama Alternative – Omarama Saddle

“On a Mish” #360 The Omarama Alternative. Omarama Saddle. Northern Otago. 27.11.2022. Before I wrecked my hip I didn’t think much about four wheel driving. I would much rather chuck a pack on my back and take on a challenge on my own two feet. It didn’t take long before repeating this became a must and my life in the mountains had begun. Many years later I would have my ability to walk drastically reduced and I thought my time in the hills had come to an end unless an alternative form of transport was available…

When the Suzuki squad woke up their assorted cabins in the Naseby Camping Ground they would have probably been satisfied with how much adventure we had had up to that point, however thanks to a very knowledgeable team member we now had an alternative way to get home.

With low mist covering the surrounding mountains we left the camp ground and began our quest towards the Omarama Saddle. This took us back into the Massive Oteake Conservation Area, a completely new location to me, only a couple of days ago. Our plan was to head up the Manuherikia River / Valley, which leads to Omarama Saddle. Along the way we were treated to a running commentary, which gave us a heads-up on the history in the area and really added to what was already a really epic mission. To get to the saddle we would have to cross the river many times, so many in fact that we all lost count!

After passing a couple of huts, where we bumped in to folks we had seen the day before in the Ida Range (small world!), we then started the climb towards the saddle.

With clouds swirling around and a cool breeze blowing, we topped out on the Omarama Saddle, and ahead was the last part of the mission, the unfortunate drive back to civilization. Near the saddle is Hidden Lake, a filming location for the Lord of the Rings movies. We considered visiting the lake but due to the time of the day and the many miles we still had left to travel, we decided against it.

We didn’t rush the last part of the journey as we all wanted to soak in the alpine atmosphere for the last time, before dropping down into Twin Burn Station. Once in the station we followed the farm road back to the main highway and then it was time to part ways with the team.

Once again Adam and the mighty Jimny had provided me with an outstanding outing while I continue to wait for my body to repair itself. And even though I am still far from hiking fit, once again I had been giving an incredible alternative way into the hills for some marvellous mountain magic!!

The Mighty Jimny on top of Omarama Saddle

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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