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Wilberforce-Moa River

Days One and Two

On Waitangi day we drove over Rakaia Gorge and up to Glenthorn Station where we swapped $20 for a key and continued on farm tracks.

We took an hour to drive up to the Wilberforce River and passed Fang hill Hut (private), stopping opposite Moa Hut (private).

After a quick lunch we set off walking up the Wilberforce. Where it turns right we had a view of Browning Pass but we turned left up the Unknown River. WE had lovely views up the unknown and the Moa Saddle. A 300m climb to tackle in 2 days. After a swim for 1 of the party who could not resist the pool under a waterfall we arrived at the Unknown hut at 5pm. It was a classic NZFS 4 bunker, used twice in the last 12 months. January and checked by DOC last June.

Friday was another stunner, so we departed on a day walk up the Gibson stream. WE stayed pretty much in the bed with the rock sizes increasing as we went further. Some were large house size boulders but we went around those.

After lunch Catherine and David set up a scree aiming for a saddle. Colin, Judy and Lynley set off

 up the River to the forks. We were all amongst Alpine flowers and looking at large waterfalls up either fork. Nobody found a good round to Mungo Pass but that was never our aim.

2 hours later we regrouped and descended back to the Unknown.


ays Three and Four.

Saturday dawned clear and sunny as we left the hut in anticipation of the proposed climb up and over Moa Saddle – at only 800 plus metres not a big ask (or so we thought). The start of the upward track was not easily located and did not appear to have been used a great deal in recent months being very overgrown in parts and with markers sparse. Intrepid volunteers bashed ahead to determine the best route and then encouraged the rest of us to follow  -  through, under and over the dense undergrowth, up a waterfall, across a shingle scree and scrambling up rock faces until finally the top and the most stunning views of the Southern Alps and other surrounding mountain tops and passes in the area.  The trek down the North Branch of the Moa River was initially easier following the river bed but then also presented its challenges where the river gorge narrowed or large boulders blocked the way.  The Moa Basin Hut was a welcome sight and even more so because the hunters who had been in residence there the previous two nights had recently departed so we had it to ourselves.  

The next morning we enjoyed an easy walk out via the Moa River to the Moa Flat Hut (pictured), then back across the Wilberforce River to the waiting vehicle.  The weekend was all the more enjoyable for hearing David reminiscing from his experiences as a young man working on Algidus Station and also from a previous visit with Annette and their  two children.  It is a special place and one I too always wanted to visit ever since reading “A River Rules My Life” many years ago.  

Thank You David






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