Wilberforce Valley – Gone with the Wind (Part One)

“A Mish a Day” #140 Wilberforce Valley – Part One. Craigieburn Forest Park. 5.6.2020. Once you taste the sweet flavours of the wilderness, you are always left wanting more. Well, at least that’s what happened to me. After sneaking in at least a couple of missions a month for nearly a decade and a half I was confined to the couch with a buggered hip. It seemed that I would only visit wild places in my mind and dreams, until a little white truck rolled up on the scene. That little truck’s ability to get not only my cousin and me, but also a whole camping village into remote locations meant I could get my outdoors fix again…

This was the second camping mission for my cousin Adam and I in the mighty Suzuki Jimny, and this time into the Wilberforce Valley. The Wilberforce has been on the to do list for a long time and now seemed like the perfect occasion. Since the first outstanding adventure into the very remote Havelock Valley, we had added additional shelter in the form of a large pop up marquee tent. This would provide good shelter for any future rain, and also will be very good at keeping the frost off my tent. Our first outing was so much fun that it was only going to be a matter of time before we went out again. It looked as though we would have a much different forecast compared to our first mish. A southerly change was meant to bring snow to the high country. To most this would be a reason to stay at home, for us it was an invitation into the wild for a winter epic.

Moon rising as we drove through the Lake Coleridge area

The truck was loaded up in Christchurch on a Friday and we went due back until late on Sunday. We now had a whole weekend available for our expedition. We headed west across the Canterbury Plains for the Wilberforce River, via the small village of Hororata and then through the aptly named Windwhistle to get us to the Rakaia Gorge. Due to us departing late the sun was setting by the time we had driven up and around the Rakaia Gorge, and to get the epicness started we were treated to an incredible sunset and equally as amazing moonrise. The bright moon lit the way as we drove through the small hills and around the small lakes in the Lake Coleridge area. It was well into the night by the time we got to the end of the road at the Wilberforce Canal, and our plan was to find a spot not too far from there on the riverbed to set up our camp for night one. After dropping down to the riverbed from the Canal Road and crossing a small braid of the Wilberforce River we found a good flat spot, then set up camp and finished the first leg of the journey with an awesome meal. The night was still and clear with an insanely bright full moon, and we enjoyed a bit of star gazing before retreating to bed, and just as we were getting ready to go to sleep the first puff of wind rolled through camp..

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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