Dusky Track, Fiordland – 1- 5 December 2018

Our trip began with a boat trip on the glassy Lake Hauroko in perfect weather, it was then a day spent with heavy packs ambling to Halfway Hut with a lunch time swim in the Hauroko Burn for Liz and Raymond. Later in the day, kaka were seen flying overhead and we experienced the first of the many three-wire river crossings.

The first of many great culinary masterpieces was then consumed for dinner followed by a great dessert. We awoke to another fine day and began the climb to the open tops of the Merrie Range and Lake Roe Hut.

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Figure 1 Unloading gear at Hauroko Burn Hut. Photo courtesy of Raymond Ford

We left the packs at the hut and spent a great afternoon exploring the stunning tops around Lake Roe. One of our group led the conversation as we walked, it appears she is about to write a guide on a rating system for potential partners. Rain hammered down on the hut roof all night, but it magically stopped as we arose

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Lake Roe Hut and the Pleasant Range tops. Photo courtesy of Raymond Ford

Day 3 was spent walking the tops of the aptly named Pleasant Range. This section of the trip was the scenic highlight of the trip, with rolling tops, many lakes and tarns and great views of Dusky Sound. A very steep descent through bush to Loch Maree Hut, reminded

us that we were in Fiordland. Despite all the horror stories of wading across flooded riverflats to reach the Seaforth River bridge, our crossing was very straightforward. Loch Maree Hut might be better renamed Sandfly Hut; Sue resorted to wearing her gloves and woolly hut inside the hut to ward off the insects friendly intentions.

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Pleasant Range looking down to Dusky Sound

Rain set in again as we crossed the Seaforth River to the hut. The next day we watched the tree stumps in Loch Maree disappearing under water as the water level rose. Boisterous side streams flowing down the sides of the valley. Our leader decided to call a hut day, much to Nicole’s relief, and not head down to Supper Cove in Dusky Sound. Fortunately, the next day, the weather cleared, the tree stumps had reappeared in Loch Maree and the side streams had dropped back to their normal flows. Kintail Hut was our destination. Despite the patches of knee deep mud, windfalls across the track, it was a very pleasant walk alongside the Seaforth River, followed by a short steep climb up to and past Gair Loch and to the hut.

Day 6, and we were off to cross our final pass - Centre Pass. With the great weather, we stopped on the top of Centre Pass for lunch. We left our packs at the pass went for a very worthwhile side trip to the summit of Mt Memphis with its many snowclad tarns and spectacular views. With some reluctance, we left the summit, collected our packs and picked our way down the steep descent to the head of the Warren Burn and Upper Spey Hut. The sandflies were very attentive; there some to be just as many inside the hut as outside!

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Summit of Mt Memphis looking north to the Matterhorn Mountains

Our last day was a walk out to the Wilmot Pass road and a 45minute walk down the road to Lake Manapouri. Sue was lucky to make it out as at one point we thought we might have to leave her stuck in one of the many bogs. All too soon it was over. We joined the tourist groups on the boat for the crossing to Manapouri township. The Dusky trip was a great adventure with spectacular mountain scenery - hanging side valleys, horned peaks and spectacular tops scattered with lakes and tarns. Many thanks to Angela for superb trip, organising the transport and accommodation, and to the rest of the party for their company and entertaining conversations.

Our party was: Angela Grigg (leader), Nicole Grigg, Sue Piercy, Liz Stephenson, Raymond Ford, Chris Moore. PCM