A right royal long weekend2017 06 04 mt haast summit

Reefton – 3-5 June 2017

How appropriate to be tramping in the Victoria Range - presumably named after Queen Victoria - on Queen’s Birthday weekend - a happy coincidence!

Our accommodation was at the Reefton Backpackers (also called the Reefton Old Breadshop), a cheap $18 per night. Trevor the friendly owner also runs the local movie theatre. Two people also stayed at the Reefton Motor Camp. After settling in and having an early lunch, nine of us headed to Murray Creek, 2km east of Reefton on SH7. While typical Reefton was thick in fog, after half an hour of walking we had clear blue skies above. It was a gradual climb up an historic road beside Murray Creek until we reached a saddle above the Waitahu River after 1¼ hours. We continued our loop anticlockwise, detouring to the Inglewood Mine Shaft and passing the Ajax Mine Shaft, each with assorted relics like boilers and a stamping battery. This section after the saddle still continued climbing until a steep descent back to the start at Blacks Point, completing an interesting 4¼ hour circuit.

Sunday saw all twelve of us heading 33km east of Reefton on SH7 to climb the 1587m Mt Haast. The marked track was gnarly for ten minutes at the start with tree roots and some mud then it climbed steadily or steeply to the bushline in 1¾ hours. Light snow flurries did not deter us on the steep climb up tussock and boulders to the summit taking 2¾ hours altogether. By now the snow had stopped and despite cloudy skies, good views were enjoyed of the surrounding ranges. The footing beside the summit cairn was treacherous with icy tussock and rock causing a few people to slip over. With the temperature at zero, we did not linger long at the summit and descended to the bushline for our lunch trying to shelter from some rain. We still enjoyed our day and had completed a good challenge.

On Monday we packed up and journeyed to Duffy Creek, located 30km east of Reefton on SH7 (or 14km west from Springs Junction). A pleasant valley track climbed about 300m in altitude to a large grassy clearing taking 1½ hours. We enjoyed the delightful area with majestic views up to the head of the valley.  A few of us headed up to the upper end of the clearing to explore further. We discovered the remnants of an old track that used to go up to the bushline, but this soon became too hard to follow. A very worthwhile day trip for nine trampers especially with the fine weather. We then headed back home via Springs Junction to complete a right royal long weekend. Note must be made of two very keen members who came on this weekend trip who came back from Australia and only arrived back home early Saturday morning. The group was Robert, Chris, Jo, Val, Diane, Peter, Lesley G, David W, Lou, Graham, Pauline and newcomer Tracy.