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Te rōpū hikoi o te pae maunga o Tararua   -   Celebrating 100 years of tramping

Trip Reports 2024-03-17-Lewis Pass-Nelson Lakes

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L-R: Megan Rawiri, Lynne White,
Karen Baker, Gerald Leather, Susi Lang

This article was first published in the Tararua Tramper Volume 94, no 4, May 2024

From Boyle River to Sabine River

17 – 24 March 2024

We started at Boyle Village and headed north for four sunny days following the Boyle, Anne, Henry and Waiau/Uwha river valleys. The route took us across golden grass flats and through beech forest where we were impressed by the native bird life - pīwakawaka, toutouwai (South Island robin) and ngirungiru (South Island tomtit). An added bonus was a pair of kārearea surveying their territory from a stand of pine trees where the St James Walkway parts company with the Waiau Pass Track. Unfortunately, there were also large numbers of Canada Geese.

After walking up river valleys flanked by the impressive mountains of the Libretto, Opera and Spenser ranges, we arrived at the lovely Upper Waiau Forks campsite, conveniently situated for going over the Waiau Pass next day.

The weather still held out for us as we followed the track upwards. The Waiau/Uwha River cascaded down the valley below us, plunging over ledges to create dramatic waterfalls. Already the views were impressive, looking back to the valleys we had come from, ahead to the giant scree slopes of Mount Māhanga and across to Lake Thompson. Soon, it was time to leave all this behind and climb the steep and rocky route up to Waiau Pass. We stopped for a breather at each pole but reached the Pass surprisingly quickly. Too good to keep moving, we stopped for lunch and savoured the superb views of the mountains and Lake Constance. Magical!

The scree slope ahead was more challenging than the climb up; at first small, gravelly stones and then bigger ones, cunningly placed to encourage slipping and ankle rolling. This section took longer than expected and we rested at the bottom before tackling the route that traverses high above Lake Constance. I wonder if the wear and tear of Te Araroa walkers has made this section more difficult, as some of the steep tracks were very worn and slippery.

Finally, Blue Lake came into sight and after a steep descent through forest, we arrived at Blue Lake Hut. Yay!! Two days ago, we had been told that it was ‘like a railway station’ but our group made up half the contingent that night - enough for interesting conversations. Time enough to visit Blue Lake and admire its colour and clarity and the reflections of the mountains.

Our last day down to Sabine Hut on Lake Rotoroa was a long one; another time I would stop at West Sabine Hut to allow more time to enjoy the forest and beautiful Sabine River. Just time for a quick plunge in the lake, our last dehy meal and a quiz based on the features of the last five days. Then blissful rest before catching the water taxi next morning to Lake Rotoroa campsite and shuttle to Nelson.

Party members
Lynne White (Leader and scribe), Karen Baker, Susi Lang (Quiz Master), Gerald Leather, Megan Rawiri.

Page last modified on 2024 May 13 23:25

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