Awatere Tussock Track - Reflections

 Down the valley.
View From Cregan Hut

I've just returned from hiking the Awatere Tussock Track, New Zealand's best ever private walking track. It's a safe, yet serious route in the high country of Marlborough. And it's left me semi-speechless - for once.

You see, it's been my most amazing hiking experience ever. On my first night home, familiarly safe in Pond Cottage with Minimus the snuggly cottage cat, I transported myself back up to the high ridgeline, at 1200 meters. Then I zoomed down a rocky spur and peered up at the 'tops' - much, much higher than I'm used to. Aargh!

The Best Moments

Time to relive the best moments - the roped down-scramble between Twin Peaks, safe and scary at the same time, the deep gullies down-side of the track early on Day Two, shingly Billy Goat Saddle, the smoothish grey bulk of next-door Mount Malvern (which I didn't climb). Above a fence-line strung along the edge of nothing I sat firmly down and looked over rows of peaks towards Mount Tapuae-o-Uenuku (Tappy for short) where the young Edmund Hillary practiced. Wow.

 At just over 800 metres.
Day One Lookout

Love My Hiking Boots...

Be warned - I can't stay semi-speechless for long about this wonderful experience. I've unpacked and stashed important things like my GPS (great for pin-pointing position, and particularly elevation) and my hiking boots (I love my hiking boots). Then (oh joy) my camera, from which I've slowly unpeeled over three hundred pictures of blue skylines, tussock hills, rocky mountains, shelters, vegetation in gullies - and me, smiling in my blue shorts, gaiters, and shirt.

So here I am some days later, still basking (wallowing?) in my memories of the trip, congratulating my legs, and consulting the Thesaurus for appropriate adjectives. The description of 'majestic' mountains doesn't work for me - those I've been treading on and sidling around have been solid and friendly. Of course there's the question of scale, with beauty in the hugest things (crowds of surrounding ranges) and the smallest (a scruffy alpine plant, a stunted blue Echium, a nicely-angled rock).

 Warm and cosy.
Cregan Hut

Love the Blonde Tussock

I also loved wandering over the blonde tussock hills along the farm roads, and following the sheep tracks around lumpy corners, stretching out the mind as well as the legs. Greeting mature iconic Cordylines like old friends, and appreciating the covenanted native reserves in their watery gullies. You see, the Awatere Tussock track had a bit of everything to offer.

Merino Sheep

And I haven't even begun to talk about the cosy Cregan Hut where I stayed for two nights, munching our hostess's biscuits and watching lines of silly merino sheep play follow-the-leader...

Please watch your step, take care, drink plenty of water, and enjoy the photographs. There are three more pages, on which I've included each day's gushing and rambling trip notes. For someone who claims to be semi-speechless, I haven't done too badly, have I?