A Dog’s Unexpected Night Out – Balmacaan Stream

“On a Mish” #271 A Dog’s Unexpected Night Out. Balmacaan Stream. Hakatere Conservation Park. 24.5.2015. Dogs are a very cool additional enhancement to life. Always keen and caring, and of course they are always down for a mish. However sometimes dogs will run off and have their own ‘side-mish’ during the trip. If you put a pedometer on some dogs I am sure they would clock up nearly twice as many metres as their owners. One dog in particular had an unexpected night on a mish in Hakatere…

Aotearoa has many places that are off limits to K-9’s, and with our rare flora and fauna I can understand why. Unfortunately for my always eager four legged friends over the years, the many signs up around Lake Clearwater Village clearly state ‘NO DOGS’.

It would have been awesome to take a dog along on some of my many adventures in Hakatere that have started at the village. But I have to stick to the rules and leave a sad dog standing in the driveway as I head out.

In the build up to the winter of 2015 I decided to head to the crib in Lake Clearwater, and was lucky to be joined by two of my long time hiking companions Jeremy and Paul. We only had the day to play with so we headed to Lake Camp (near Lake Clearwater), and began hiking on the track that goes up to Balmacaan Saddle.

You could smell winter in the air as a cool wind kept the temperature down while dark clouds slowly hovered above the mountains around Lake Camp. We didn’t really have a destination in mind, we just wanted to get up the valley a little bit and take some photos.

At the start of the track was a note that was written in what looked like lipstick saying that a puppy had been lost in the area and to call this number if found. I have only just recently found out that some of the tracks act as routes to dog friendly areas. I was always under the assumption that dogs were a no no in the entire area.

The track leads to both the saddle and Lake Emma and after turning off the Lake Emma Track we continued hiking towards Mahaanui / Mt Harper(1829m) on the gravel of the Balmacaan Streambed.

It was an enjoyable experience and we chatted and laughed as we made our way through patches of Matagouri and tussock. In one spot I could have sworn I heard the sound of a dog in distress. We stopped for a second and the sound went silent so we shrugged it off and continued on. Walking away from the patch of bush was hard at first because I was so sure I heard something.

At one point we scrambled up a spur on Mahaanui / Mt Harper(1829m) and the elevation gave us a great view back towards Lakes Camp and Clearwater. The yellows, browns and greys of the vast land are topped off with a crisp white snow. There is no wonder why I love this place so much and come back as often as possible.

On the return journey back down the valley we reached the same patch of matagouri where we heard the same noise we had heard earlier, and so once again we were searching the bushes for its source.

We looked in and around each bush in the area for about 25 minutes, and every time we thought about giving up the search we were spurred on again by the faint yap of a small, scared animal.

After some time it seemed like our search was having no success, so disappointed we began to walk back to Lake Camp dogless.

We continued along the track and as we went out on to the Balmacaan Streambed a small tan puppy limped up to me looking very sad and lost. Before he could disappear again I picked the poor little fella up and I could see the sense of relief in his eyes. The puppy had what looked like very sore paws from an unexpected night out in the rocky environment, and was hungry and scared.

After carrying the dog to the car we took him back to the crib in Clearwater (breaking the rules but a must) and gave him some food and water. We had grabbed the note so we called the number and arranged a drop off.

We met up with the owner in Methven and as we dropped him off we wondered if we had done the right thing. He disciplined the dog for running away, which makes no sense as the dog had run away the day before. The dogs ‘owner’ didn’t give the appearance of a responsible dog-loving person. And if it was my dog I would have not given up the search until the target had been located.

We said goodbye to our new four legged friend and hoped for the best before beginning the drive back to Christchurch. As always Lake Clearwater and the Hakatere area had provided exercise and an adventure, however this one had the twist of an animal rescue!

Looking north from a spot on the side of Mahaanui / Mt Harper(1829m)

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

Subscribe To my newsletter