26 -27 September 2015
Tarn Hut is located in the Lees Valley, which involves an hour’s twisty drive from the turnoff near Ashley Gorge to the car park. Claire obviously enjoyed the last couple of km's negotiating the mud, puddles and ruts as she got out of the car beaming. Sergey, Claire and Mike in one vehicle, with Bill, myself and Vesna in the other. We were walking by 10am reaching Lilburn Stream, which was easily crossable, an hour later.
Following the zigzag up the hill, I enjoyed the wintery landscape and snowfall. The hut looked a picture with the snow-girt tarn .It was too clagged in to go far so we had a leisurely afternoon keeping warm in the hut. (Built in the significant year of 1958).
Woke to a clear, crisp morning, the lights of Christchurch visible in the distance. It was a magic morning with snow on the surrounding Puketeraki's, the tarn's surface almost covered in ice and the hut adorned in icy lacework. Fortunately we set off early as the day panned out to be a little longer than anticipated. We climbed Lilburn Hill and down to Youngman Stream hut where we sat in sunshine for morning tea.
Initially setting off down the river, we made the decision to turn back as it was getting tricky to negotiate and didn't relish the prospect of hours in the freezing water. We set off on the flood route with the sign saying 5 hours to the car park. This was no walk in the woods as several days of wet weather made for a slippery track. The track was often narrow and sidling but I managed by not looking down and knowing it was a better alternative to the river.
We took 8 hours on Sunday and it was the best workout I'd had in ages. There were such contrasting landscapes, variable weather and great companions that I had a very enjoyable weekend.