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Macaulay Hut Expedition                                                                                                                                         9th – 10th April 2016

Several months ago my old school friend, Judy Blakemore and I put then weekend of 9/10 April in our diaries to met up. Then 2 weeks before Judy told me about the South Canterbury Tramping Club's expedition to the Macaulay Hut hat weekend and asked if I would like to go. She described it as a combination 4WD and tramping and suitable for a kiwi who has been living in UK for many years and not spending her weekends exploring the NZ back country. I agreed and was so glad that I did.

We were up before light on the Saturday and at 7.15 met up with 2 other vehicles on the outskirts off Timaru and thence off to Tekapo. A fine warm autumn day, perfect for the drive up the east side of the lake. We stopped at the top of lake and 2 fit brave cyclists, Christine and John left the comfort of their car and took to their bikes. The rest of us in 2 separate vehicles ably driven by Colin and Dave then headed off on a supposedly marked track up the side of the Macaulay R. Following the track required a certain amount of imagination and somewhat more off road driving skill. We did pass the intrepid cyclists but the going was slow. 2.5 hours later we arrived at the impressive Macaulay Hut: a large stone clad hut in excellent condition, built and maintained by the MacKenzie Alpine Association. Our party of 12 was the first party to arrive but we were joined in the late afternoon by a young couple from Wanaka which filled the hut and later by a family with young children who erected a tent. Lunch was consumed in fine warm conditions and followed by a delightful walk north up the West Bank of the river led by Dave. Then a lazy chatty evening as Dave and some of the other males of the party cooked dinner, both main course and dessert. We had solar powered lighting but most retired early and slept well in comfortable bunks. The next morning the party did 2 different walks. I again joined Dave’s party and scrambled up a steep ridge of a mountain in the east side of the valley, marvelling at Dave's horizontal placement of his wooden crook-like stick. A steep climb part way up the ridge resulted in stunning views down 2 valleys and then an exciting scree slope slide back down to the river. Barry seems to get a high from such scree slides and disappeared at high speed ahead of the rest of us. Ross sustained a leg laceration on the return leg, we saw a NZ falcon and then Hazel transforming into a mermaid in the river. Quick lunch then home: the return trip was again 2 cyclists and 2 cars but we took a rather different track which took less time. 

A wonderful weekend. Many thanks to Dave for his organisation, provisioning, cooking and leading the walks. To Colin for his skilful driving and to Judy for asking and kitting me out.

Dr Nicola Carey

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