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Oteake  Conservation Area    10th – 11th October


When I saw Catherine was organising a trip to this area I thought it would be great to have a weekend tramping after a winter tied up indoors, but the destination would be just retired farmland walking on a 4WD track. Well I was only a little bit right.

On Saturday we left the car an hour or so before lunch and headed up to Omarama Saddle, stopping for lunch at the base of the climb. On the saddle we had a good view across Lake Ohau and Pukaki. Cloud was crossing over to the east side of the Alps west of Ohau. The land south of  the saddle were hills with flat table like tops. To the east it was more like Central Otago with tors jutting out in the landscape. We headed down the track to top hut. I have now been to several top huts. This was down on the valley floor. The hut had 8 beds, perfect for our group of five.  Soon after our arrival we were sitting outside enjoying the sun and shelter from the wind and saw a party of 6 coming to join us.

We stayed in the hut whilst these others joined us in the hut but 2 opted to sleep outside under the stars. I’m sure it was a frost but they assured us they slept well. Who would have thought you could do a PhD  with tramping socks the topic for research. We got no benefit from this study- wool socks are good, Merino doesn’t wear well and 2 socks stops friction. I’m sure she had a lot more info.

On Sunday the wind abated a little so the walk along the ridge was in order. We stopped at Omarama saddle, then finally left the 4WD track. We zigzagged to the highest point then walked along the ridge. Wow was the scenery good. Mount Cook was dominant in the lovely view along the range. The view went from Lindis to north of Pukaki. Then we stepped to the east of the ridge and the view was the Hawkdun Range to Dansey’s. It was also out of the wind and very pleasant. After a couple of patches of snow we arrived back on the ridge and descended to Little Omarama Saddle, then back on a 4WD track down to the car.

When driving in NZ it always seems a long way but when you are on the tops you can see so far and NZ is tiny.

I’ll never doubt Catherine’s ability to find a great destination but it was luck that we went before Labour Weekend when the tracks are opened to vehicles. I will be back in Oteake again.

Catherine, Dorothy, Judy, Colin and Robert had a great weekend.


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