The Taste of a River (Part One) – Potts River Camp

“On a Mish” #368 The Taste of a River (Part One). Potts River. Hakatere Conservation Area. 2.3.2023. To be alone in an area the physical size of a major city is an experience I have become very fond of. I am very lucky to live in a country which has massive areas of land that are totally free of any signs of mankind. I have become very used to adventures on my own and it was the norm for a long time. This all changed when by chance I ended up with my own four legged best friend, who now by default has to learn how to go ‘On a Mish’…

The timing couldn’t be any better as I am slowly getting myself back into the outdoors, and this has meant no big gnarly missions. The times I have gone camping lately I haven’t travelled far due to the pressure a hiking pack puts on my hip. These circumstances are just perfect for introducing a newbee into the hiking / camping world.

Ernie and I had been on one mish to Dogs Hill, and on that outing he was an excellent camping companion. After the trip we were left wanting more, so after a week of recovery time we were looking at the map for the next night out in the wilderness.

Before getting Ernie I could go anywhere I wanted, but now I have to go to a dog friendly area. Thankfully I live in Aotearoa and there are tons of places to take a dog on a mish. Our first camping trip was into the dog friendly parts of Hakatere Conservation Park, so we looked for another quality spot in the massive mountainous area. I had located a good place near the Potts River so it was time to load up the car, and then both dog and man were off.

The first time we went out I made sure it was very easy terrain and rivers were only going to be looked at, not crossed. But on this outing I was going to introduce Ernie to the art of crossing a river – the couple of braids of the Potts River we needed to cross to get to the spot I wanted to camp at.

Another training trip was on the cards and we were keen to get going.

Ernie After His First River Crossing

The weather was really on our side, with hot conditions forecast for where we were heading . The hot temperatures definitely made us look forward to walking in water.

Our drive took us over the plains and past Lake Clearwater Village. There are many signs saying ‘NO DOGS’ around the village so we didn’t stop for a look. After the village it was a short drive to the Potts River and the end of the car’s part of the journey.

It was about 30 degrees when we got to the car park and we were keen to find somewhere out of the sun. It was awesome to be able to park up under a large tree near the road and enjoy some cooling shade while we readied ourselves for an adventure.

The small car park beside the river is on the Te Araroa Trail, and after lugging my pack on my back and beginning my hike I ran into my first trail walkers. The couple was from America and were just about to take on the challenge of crossing the Rangitata River. Along with the Rakaia River, the Rangitata is one of the biggest challenges on the 3000km trail. And speaking of rivers, Ernie was about to get his first taste of one too.

Our short hike took us at first on the true left of the Potts River until the river runs into a bluff and it needs to be crossed. I had Ernie on a lead that was tied around my waist and as we both reluctantly plunged into the river I was able to hold his little body high in the water.

At first he was extremely reluctant to go in but thanks to the multiple braids that needed to be crossed he had a chance to get used to the taste of a river…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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