Leaving the West Coast – Up the River

Mt Hooker WestlandThis blog has been stuck up a creek down the Coast for a few weeks now. It’s time to get us out of there. We’d had a great week exploring and enjoying the West Coast, and were on our way south. After a walk at Ship Creek, we continued south to Haast and across the longest one-way bridge. We’ve never had to figure out how the passing bays work with an 8m truck and that’s OK. As the day went on the sky got clearer and heading inland up the Haast River we got to see more of the mountains. 

It’s quite a way up-river to Pleasant Flat, where the road crosses the river and where there’s a DoC camp we’d usually passed by. This time we decided to stop and stay for the night; our last on the West Coast. It’s a lovely location, but whoever named it ‘Pleasant’ must have been immune to sandflies. We felt safe inside our insect screens, and it was a nice view.

Mt Hooker from Haast River

Mt Hooker from the sandfly-safety of Suzi, parked up at Pleasant Flat

The camp is on the edge of the bush, and there is a lovely little walk to the nearby stream to get a sample of the forest.

Stream at Pleasant Flat

Stream at Pleasant Flat

Stream at Pleasant Flat

Stream and tree roots at Pleasant Flat

Stream at Pleasant Flat

Forest stream at Pleasant Flat

Wyn retired to declare war on the sandflies that had infiltrated Suzi motorhome’s defences. I wandered off (to the sound of muffled thumps and bangs) to check out the Haast Rive and the views down-valley towards Mt Hooker. At 2,652 meters high it is quite an imposing sight.

Mt Hooker and bridge over Haast River

Mt Hooker and the bridge over Haast River at Pleasant Flat

Mt Hooker and the Haast River

Mt Hooker and the Haast River

Mt Hooker from Pleasant Flat

Mt Hooker from Pleasant Flat in the Haast River

It’s also quite an imposing climb. While finding out the height figure for Mt Hooker, I came across a great ‘blast from the past‘ account by Donald Lousley of an unsuccessful attempt back in the 1970s. I was involved in a far more unsuccessful mid-winter attempt also back in the 1970s. With Dave Craw, Owen Cambridge and Peter McKellar, we started up the Paringa and got no further than Tunnel Creek where we created a rock bivvy and saw a morepork; those were the highlights.

Wyn’s sandfly slaughter was successful, and we enjoyed our last evening on the West Coast watching the fading light on Mt Hooker. The weather was closing in which was no surprise. The sandflies are excellent weather forecasters and they knew that rain was coming. We slept well with the sound of rain on the roof. Next morning we retreated east, across Haast Pass and back to the land of few sandflies.

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6 Responses to Leaving the West Coast – Up the River

  1. gay dornbusch says:

    Beautiful pics as usual. Thanks for sharing them

  2. Suz says:

    Good on ya Wyn, so fewer sandflies for whenever we manage to drive down south again! Yes, it was one heck of a surprise when we got out the picnic basket only to be packing up as soon as we unpacked. Cuppa in the car! Ross, love the snow-capped mountains. Would you believe there is supposed to be coming shortly to parts of Spain due to a major cold front from the North!

  3. Ross says:

    Thanks Suzanne. You know, we reckon that the drive between Hawea and Fox Glacier must be one of the best and most varied three-hour drives in the world. It’s got just about everything, including the lovely snowy peaks. Crikey! Spain and major cold fronts. And Otago and major warm fronts. Cromwell has racked up 8 or 11 days in a row where the temperature has reached 27 degrees and they are expecting more days yet. Already it a record for any November. You’ll be digging out your layers and we’re digging out our summer clothes.

  4. Rob Archibald says:

    Hi Ross, I discovered that Mt Hooker is a difficult mountain to climb because of the weather. Back in mid 70’s I was with a party from AUTC in the Clarke River rock biv having come up the Otoko and across the pass into the head of the Clarke. It’s a Superb biv – can’t remember its name. When we hear a chopper and it lands beside the rock biv. The passengers get out – they were going to climb Mt Hooker the next day just like us. We were pissed off. Very remote, hard to get to, tranquil and they wanted to share the biv. They explained that they had spent 30 days over a long period, trying to climb Mt Hooker always to be turned back by the weather after the long tramp in there. So now when the weather looked good they flew in. The next day both parties gave up high on the mountain in a white out. I have not made the opportunity to go back.

    • Ross says:

      Thanks Rob for your interesting insights. And I’d have been pissed off too. A long list of failed attempts does not excuse flying in to some previous high point. In fact it just emphasises the difficulty of climbing Mt Hooker is a difficulty in getting a number of factors to line up. Short circuiting those factors is cheating in my opinion. It’s like someone turning back on Mt Cook and then getting flown back to that point on another day, rested, to resume the climb. I remember being pissed off to be joined on Forgotten River Col by people who had just flown in to the Forgotten River Flats. We’d got there from the Hollyford Road with everything we needed for the 20 days, with all the compromises that required. And these guys saunter up and settle nearby with their fresh oranges and fruit cake and whatever else. Yet did our purity of style give us the right to judge their eligibility to enjoy the Plateau alongside us?

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