The Opposite of Flat (Part Two) – Rakaia River

“On a Mish” #379 The Opposite of Flat (Part Two). Rakaia River. Hakatere Conservation Park. 21.6.2023. Apart from Te Pataka o Rakaihautū / Banks Peninsula and the Port Hills Christchurch and its surroundings are mostly flat. I believe this definitely helped with my fascination with mountains. Every so often the Whanau would pack into the car and we would head west across the plains and into the Southern Alps for an adventure. The memories and feelings have stuck with me and it has been my desire to look at the opposite of flat that has fueled many, many missions…

With my mind in a state as bad as my hip and back I needed a break from the real world for a moment, and it would seem that thanks to a drive up the massive Rakaia Valley I would find that break. I had my dog by my side (attached by led) and now we needed to find a suitable spot for my tent.

It was now early evening and the setting sun was beginning to colour the sky. I found a perfect flat spot near a braid of the river and in no time I had my tent up. I thought that now would be a good time to test Ernie’s training and see if he would stick by my side. He didn’t. But unlike the situation near Lake Lyndon he couldn’t go far. Thanks to Ernie’s dislike of water (mainly getting washed!) he got to a fork in the river where the only way out was through the water. By the time I caught up with him he had a very guilty look on his face and he knew that he had done wrong. Unfortunately for him he was secured to an anchor until it was time to retreat to the tent for sleep.

Not long before I turned in for the night the stars came out in force. Another part of my fascination with outdoor adventures is the night sky free of any light pollution. If it wasn’t for tiredness I’d look up at the stars all night long. On this night tiredness won the battle and I retreated to the warmth of my sleeping bag and Ernie curled up into a puppy ball on his bed.

Camping in the Rakaia

Early-ish the next morning we were up in the chill of dawn taking in the magnificent sunrise. The first part of the show was to see the lights of the few station houses and vehicles of both Manuka Point and Mt Algidus, as the work day began on some of the most remote farms in the country. Next came the slightest yellow glow along the jagged mountain backdrop on the eastern horizon. This slowly turned red as the area around me lit up. The red then became a burning orange which was hard to turn away from. And then came the final act which was the first appearance of the big ball of burning gas itself. It is this sort of thing that for some reason fixes any faults and prepares me for the next set of challenges life throws at me.

Plans of climbing Double Hill were dashed by the fact that I didn’t want to risk writing myself off for the next couple of days. Luckily the pure pleasure I had found from my very simple mish was enough for now and I was happy snapping another couple of pictures of paradise.

As I collapsed my tent I took in as many breaths of mountain air as I could, as if I was storing it up for later. Pack packed and dog strapped, it was time to return to life outside of the mountains.

On the drive home it was as if the hills of Hakatere had heard of my failure to climb Double Hill, and knew I needed just a tad more epicness. A layer of inversion cloud sat mid valley and I had the strange pleasure of powering on through it. It was very strange to go from open country and blue sky to minimal visibility all within a matter of a few moments. A spectacular way to end a stunning outing into an area which is the opposite of flat. For now my need for the wild was fulfilled and the only question that remained was for how long…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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