The Rest Day (Part Two) – Livingstone / Cascade Creek Saddle

“On a Mish” #336 The Rest Day – Part Two. Livingstone / Cascade Creek Saddle. Livingstone Mountains. Fiordland National Park / Greenstone Conservation Area. 6.1.2011. Some say the many rooms of McKellar Lodge are haunted by ghosts and there are many tales that back up this claim. Along with the ghosts there is also a very comfortable lodge, which the lucky people hiking Ultimates Hikes Grand Traverse get to enjoy for two nights. This means a rest day is on offer at the lodge, and those who still have a little bit of gas in their tank take up the opportunity to climb up to the Livingstone / Cascade Creek Saddle and take in the views on offer from the Greenstone Valley’s epic highpoint…

Starting from behind the lodge the steep track climbs a ridge beside Duck Creek, and this gets the blood pumping almost immediately. Like many hikes in Fiordland, the bush hides the views so you must keep pushing on up to get your rewards. Eventually the bush thins and within around twenty metres you go from view-obstructing forest to scrub and you see the reason why you put your legs through this ordeal. Above the treeline you keep climbing towards the saddle, the views getting better and better with each step. Finally you top out on the saddle and get to see all the way up and down one of New Zealand’s most historic valleys. Taking in the sights can make 20 minutes feel like 20 seconds, and there were times where we (the guides) had trouble getting the customers to start their journey back down to McKellar Lodge. It is once you get back to the lodge that most remember that they are only half way through their adventure, and within just three epic days you have not only gone for a good hike, but also retraced the footsteps of tangata whenua o Aotearoa on a track nearly as old as human time in this awesome little country in the South Pacific.

After a good feed and rest at the lodge, early-ish the next morning you begin the Routeburn Track section of your mission and this will reinforce why I personally think the Grand Traverse is one of New Zealand’s premier guided walks and a GT mish is a must!

Looking across to McKellar Saddle from the Livingstone / Cascade Creek Saddle

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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