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Rees Dart        9th - 15th November

Sunday 9th November – Travel day

Judy, Colin, John, Christine and Chris were the group to travel down to Glenorchy to the start of the walk. We left Timaru late morning to give us time to stop in Queenstown and purchase Hut Passes. We had a brief wander around Queenstown for some final provisions and then on to Glenorchy. We stayed at the backpackers and had a meal there in the evening.

Monday10th November – Day 1

Up in good time to prepare to leave. With the car re-loaded we set off to Muddy Creek car park and the start of the walk. The weather was dry but overcast as we started along the 4WD track. There was a 5 minute side track up to Twenty Five Mile hut which was in a dilapidated state.  

The marked track continued over grassy flats which were very boggy in places. We eventually reached the park boundary and then we entered into the bush. By now it was raining lightly and in the shelter of the trees we stopped for lunch. We continued to climb steadily and the intermittent rain didn't prevent plenty of photo opportunities.

At last we could see Shelter Rock Hut and it wasn't long before we were over the swing bridge and into the hut.

First challenge was to get the fire started. Pretty difficult as there wasn't any dry wood but plenty of coal. Colin's saw was put to good use! After foraging up in the woods for some kindlers we eventually coaxed the fire into life although it required careful attention. The hut was spacious but a bit grubby as rubbish had been left behind, the floor needed a good sweep and the work bench was mucky......all minor details as we were glad to have arrived.

We knew the forecast wasn't good for the next day so every effort was made to keep the fire alight overnight.

Tuesday11th November – Day 2

A gloomy, cold, wet start to the day. We decided it was pointless rushing off as we were climbing up over the Rees Saddle that day. We agreed to wait and see if the weather improved. At one point we thought we might make a go of it but then it started snowing and the cloud descended so visibility was greatly reduced. It was an easy decision to stay put for the day, so we unpacked and went foraging for more wood and filled up the wood box. After lunch we passed the afternoon playing cards, solving suduko puzzles and code crunchers and reading a Kindle (my one luxury! ). Needless to say it was early to bed!!

Wednesday12th November – Day 3

Clear skies and sunshine this morning, the mountains looked stunning. We set off up the track enjoying the fine views but being careful over icy slippery rocks. The track was well marked as it ascended up through alpine scrub until we reached a tussock basin below the saddle. Colin made steps for us, in the snow, up the slope to the saddle. This was tricky and slippery at times but we made it safely. The saddle sits at 1447 metres. Fabulous view from the top and after a few photos we followed the marker poles down the other side taking great care over the snowy icy track.

It snowed intermittently as we descended but this just made the alpine scenery more picturesque. Our next challenge was to ford Snowy Creek. We knew the DOC bridge was not in place yet so we were hoping the river hadn't risen too much over night. When we arrived at the bridge site it was easy to pick out a suitable place to cross - and just knee deep.

Continuing on down towards the Dart Hut which is a large hut with running water and flush toilets. Two DOC wardens had just arrived that week preparing for the season so it was good to talk with them and they were able to give us an accurate weather forecast so we could plan tomorrow's trip.    Chris

Thursday 13th November - Day 4

Day excursion to Dart Glacier. After a moonlit night and a clear sky in the morning, up at the usual time 6.30am – 6.45 for me with all signs for a lovely clear sunny day we packed for a day return walk to the Dart Glacier. This was an amazing day with fantastic scenery and views. I enjoyed the interesting colourful rocks, alpine plant life and the presence of a couple of cheeky keas. We spent much time taking photos and gazing – taking in the amazing scenery.

The route followed the Dart River to its source the Dart Glacier. We climbed for half an hour the track towards the Dart Glacier, stopping just before the snowline where we sat and enjoyed lunch. After taking in as much as we could we made our return to the Dart Hut, this time a lot quicker than the 4 hours getting there. We settled into another quiet evening at the hut. The DOC staff had left this morning. We appreciated their weather reports and notes on the track ahead.

Friday 14th November – Day 5

Dart Hut to Daleys Flat Hut. 18kms and 7 hours.

Walking at 8am the track started out a 2 ½ hour sidle through beech forest to Cattle flat. A faint marked poled route lead us across the 4kms of Cattle Flat, crossing grassy terraces and gullies. Today we were spoilt to some lovely weather and found ourselves carrying most of our layers. After the end of this flat we took the 5 minute walk to check out the Rock Biv which was well worth the visit and quite a surprise after walking across the extensive grassy cattle flat. After a lunch break here we set out for the last part of walk which passed through beech forest to the 20 bunk Daley Flat Hut; Sand-flies presence was upon us here and didn’t take long to find us having a bathe at the Dart Riverside. Today we were treated to another fine day and found ourselves carrying, most of our outer layers. This was a reasonably big day walking and we appreciated arrival at the hut and once again relaxed and enjoyed a quiet evening to ourselves. With thought of our last day ahead and return travel we planned to make an early start and walk out then make return trip home to Timaru.

Saturday 6th - Day 6

After wakening to gale force winds, thunder and lightning in the middle of the night we lay awake thinking of plan B. However 6am arrived and all was calm so we were up and walking at 7am. High cloud above but calm we set out on this our last day from Daleys Flat Hut to Chinamans Car park where all going to plan our vehicle would be there for us. This was aprox. a 16km walk which took us 6 ½ hours. Starting out through Beech forest though to openings of grassy flats following the Dart River to the newly formed lake over Dredge Flat. Parts of the track now submerged by the new lake the track detoured by a new temporary route which was probably a lot slower walking. We were lucky enough that side streams were low and not a problem. By now the weather had deteriorated again with light rain. The track returned to its original course at Sandy Bluff which climbed high above the lake and gave us some good views down over the lake which we amazed at the size of. After following the benched track around Chinamans Bluff we were down to the grassy flats then easy walk to the car park where we were happy to see the vehicle ready waiting. It was approx. 1.30pm and the weather had just turned to cooler temperatures and rain. After a complete change of clothing, a Café stop at Glenorchy we set off for home.

Those on trip were Chris, Judy, Colin, John and myself.  Christine