Lake McRae

 Waitangi Weekend 2014

 Having collected Glenda at Waipara, Bill, Dennis and I drove to our camping site at Acheron, on the Molesworth on Wednesday evening. Breakfasting at first light we continued along the Molesworth parking at the DOC Rangers house at the northern end. We gladly accepted the offer of a ride to the start of our track. There was plenty of briar rose growing rampantly as we headed east up Robinson Creek, climbing gradually. Also profuse was Vipers Bugloss, an upright blue flower with a coarse prickly stem. The saddle became apparent in the distance and we had lunch before tackling the climb. Views were magnificent! Dillon Cone nearby and Lake McRae beckoning some 6 kilometers in the distance.

We sidled rather than staying on the spur as we made the 600m descent. Probably a mistake as we encountered masses of matagouri and briar. The sun was out and it was warm when we finally clocked up the 22k to the recently renovated hut. The much anticipated swim was a real treat, with the sun hitting the perfectly calm and wonderfully isolated waters. Just Bill and I took the plunge on this occasion with the hut about 700m and a small climb away.

 Friday, we headed off to Elliot's Biv, pleased to be carrying only day packs. Shore walking and wading where necessary we took about an hour to reach the head of the lake. Over a saddle and down to Elliot's Stream for several km to the Biv, which proved to be a bit elusive, hidden away amongst poplar and elm on a bit of a rise from the stream. Returning the same way, cloud cover dispelled hopes for a dip in the lake.

 Bill was up early and away by to climb Turk's Head at 1959m. I went back to sleep and was surprised to learn it was 9.00 when I woke, making a leisurely start to the day. Glenda, Dennis and I were aiming for a pyramid-shaped hill behind the hut and we got beyond that. Were rewarded with some great patches of soft scree for the descent down to the lake. We all had a gloriously refreshing dip. Timed it well to be back at the hut within a few minutes of Bill's return. He had successfully climbed Turk's Head having sat on the lower ridge waiting for the cloud to lift. We all sat outside in the evening sun enjoying the company and our surrounds.

 We needed and early start on our final day and we hit the trail at 6.50am. Long damp grass had our shorts wet and clingy and the mist gave us about 75m visibility as we climbed the spur to the saddle at 1440m. No views this time. The day warmed as we negotiated our way back along Robinson Creek. We calculated the rangers ride had shaved 25min off the walk in yet we made it out in 7 hours.Two hours later we had driven the Molesworth and had a snack at Hanmer each of us very satisfied with our tramp into Lake McRae.

 Thanks to Bill, Dennis and Glenda for helping to make this such a memorable trip.



 My thanks to you both Bill & Wendy. A remote farm trip ventured by few. We met no-one else over the four days. Flora & dry landscape similar to Central Otago but without the schist formations. Really historic hut & biv, festooned with antlers. Those huts could tell some great stories I’m sure. Only Bill spotted deer, but we saw cattle, goats, crested grebes, hares, a cat, far too many Canadian geese and there was a pig mud wallow not far from the hut. We saw that wilding pines were slowly encroaching on this landscape, wind blown from plantations at Molesworth Station. Bill did his bit for conservation by sawing down every one of them we found on the flats. unfortunately we could see much bigger ones on craggy ridges. Great and really interesting trip.