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Glenorchy        14th - 19th November

Judy, Colin and myself Catherine (all combined script writers) left Timaru on Saturday to drive to Glenorchy where we freedom camped beside the Earnslaw Burn river.
Sunday.  We started walking up the Earnslaw Burn track. The track was in good order to start with but became rough in the middle section. It took 6 hrs to reach the rock bivy which was to be our accommodation for the night. Dropping our packs and having a cuppa we then walked up to the head of the valley for a look which was well worth it and great opportunity for more photos. The rock bivy is a large rock over hang with rock tables and seats and a fireplace which was a great way to smoke out the sand-flies. There is also a sleeping platform with 5 mattresses. It was a very comfortable night lying in bed watching the stars and spotting the satellites. The return walk out the next day the same way was easier and only took 4 and half hours. We freedom camped again down bedside the Earnslaw Burn river again.

Tuesday. A drive to Lake Sylvan . Our goal was a 3 day visit into Theatre Flat and return via Sugar Loaf Pass. We commenced walking around Lake Sylvan which was easy going and then up the Rockburn track parallel to the Dart River. We dropped our packs and did the detour to check out the derelict Rockburn hut but found a new Rockburn shelter there instead. This had been built by the Dart River jets. It is set amongst a lovely flat camping area and beech forest. We also walked up to the Rockburn chasm from the shelter. It was quite impressive looking down upon it and the flowing waters. Views we had from the shelter were the Humbolt Mountains, Chinamans Bluff at the end of the now closed Dart track. We then returned to our packs and had lunch. Little did we know what was in store for us soon! As the next part of the track was now longer maintained. Here we come across multiple windfall and 100 metre sections of track had detours of at least 150metres so progress was slow and our distance of walking greatly increased. By 5pm we had reached the track junction and decision was made not to continue onto Theatre flat as it was still another few hours away and also the weather forecast for Thursday was poor and track conditions were poor. We opted to proceed up Sugar loaf pass track and look for a suitable campsite. By 5.30 we had found a suitable site for 2 tents along the track. Here we cooked up tea and then had 11hours in bed with pressure areas on our hips. By now we had recuperated and proceeded up Sugar Loaf Pass(1184m). The air was cool as there had been a frost overnight with small pockets of ice in some wee puddles. The views on top were superb and enhanced by the crystal clear skies. What a wonderful opportunity for some more stunning photos. Some of our views included Humbolt Mountains, Turret Head, Mt Earnslaw, Serpentine and Alisa Mountains and Teawa Whakatpu. We proceeded down a delightful long saddle with magnificent views all around in every direction. Colin was on pole mission literally running from pole to pole in excitement. As we continued down Sugar loaf Pass the track was surprisingly well maintained and an easy gradient. Our only issue was old track markers at the junction pointing the wrong way where there was a large slip which made us temporarily misplaced for half an hour. After using our map reading skills we returned to the correct place and found the track and had an easy walk down the tree rooty track to the lavish Routeburn Shelter and freshly cleaned toilets. (Luxury).The last part of the day was the 5km walk back down the shingle road to Lake Syvlan campsite. But we chose to freedom camp again beside the Earnslaw Burn river as it was more sheltered and private and a nicer setting. Here we enjoyed a wash in the river to refresh, a cuppa and a lovely sunny rock on the river to sit on and  enjoy our refreshments and to compose this trip report jointly and plan the next part of our journey. Whilst sitting here we observed a tour group of 10 or more people walking through our campsite looking for Orcs as this is where some Lord of the Rings filming had been done. We don’t believe they found any!

Thursday morning we packed up and left for the Invincible Mine. It was really interesting with a "concentrator" at the base of the hill. This crushed the tailings obtaining substantial amounts of gold. At the mine site 7 burdens (large slowly revolving cast iron bowls that ground the ore) were visible and looked impressive. These superseded the concentrator. The waterwheel was wooden and only the outer rim and spokes remain. Presumably the battery was sold and relocated. The tailings altered the landscape. The morning was calm but suddenly the dust at the head of Whakatipu was dense. The NW had arrived .After lunch at Glenorchy we were advised not to head to the Heather Jock hut. If we camped we would have no tent as 75kph winds were expected. The track up there was exposed and we wouldn’t be safe or able to stand so we opted out of doing this. Instead we drove back along the Glenorchy road and did a
walk into Bobs Cove. It was an easy walk and took us to a lime kiln and associated jetty. After this we had a late departure for home and arrived home a day earlier due to the changing weather.
It was a great 6 days. We saw some interesting and amazing sites. Makes you realise the trying conditions the miners had to work in 24/7 in continual noise and dust. They certainly did get to enjoy the scenery and sights and views we did over our week.  Thanks Judy and Colin for sharing this week and experience with me. I am sure we have all learnt more about the area any of us had been previously been into and know there is more in the area we can still explore. Hope there weren’t too
many souvenir bruises from the trip.