My husband and I are spending several months traveling and tramping in New Zealand. We arrived on the South Island Dec. 28, 2018, and spent January hiking like crazy with our 21-year-old son, Dave’s brother, and his wife. February and March we spend largely based in Christchurch with our son, and now we are on the road for a final 3 weeks to visit the North Island. But I’m still catching up with January. This was the last of our four major multi-night tramps in that month.
Gillespie Pass/Siberia Valley semi-loopThis was a rugged tramp with some seriously steep ups and downs, and some poor weather in the forecast. My sister-in-law wisely decided to sit this one out, but the other four of us headed out boldly. The trip began with a five-minute jet-boat ride across and up the river, thus saving us either a potentially dangerous ford or an extra 2 or 3 miles of hiking (from the nearest bridge).
It was interesting to see how they handled the jet boats. The river is too erratic to allow for any permanent dock, so they trailer the boats across the road, and back a mobile dock into the river!
|Launching the dock. He then drove the boat around and moored it to the dock.|
|Hopeful—or deluded—trampers hit the trail.|
|That strange blob isn’t an alien—it’s my son!|
Lunch—the only time we got to sit down on the whole hike, since it was so wet out. Note the rather small size of dry area under the shelter!
|The tank on the right is water collected from the roof, to provide drinking water. This is untreated but generally safe—we never bothered treating any of the water provided.|
Things got more interesting when we started up.
|Yes, that’s the track, and yes, it really is that steep.|
|The hut is around to the left on that lowest meadow. Ow ow ow.|
In spite of everything (including a gratuitous 500’ climbout of the upper valley adding to the total descent!) we made it to the Siberia Hut, which is very nice and fairly new, having burned in the last 10 years or so and been rebuilt.
|My husband (right) and his brother relaxing in front of the famous view.|
|Happily only knee deep|
|Tree roots make a good staircase.|
|My feet didn’t thaw, either.|
Fortunately, the final day was fairly easy. It began with some beautiful clouds.
Then it was farewell to the valley. Though it started with an easy valley walk, the trail did climb about 600’ before dropping to the Wilkins River. In 1996, my husband and I explored well up that river, then hiked 2 days to get out. This time we picked up a jet boat after lunch, at the point where we started our second day of walking down the river last time. As that hike ended in a nearly disasterous river crossing, we were glad to have the ride.
|High winds added to the speed of the boat made it a *very* breezy ride!|
Still lots more NZ adventures to come!
Text and photo copyright Rebecca M. Douglass. Please do not use without permission. Link-backs are always appreciated!