28 June 2010

New Zealand Jan 2006 - Wilkin River

Wilkin River revisited

A walk that had tantalised Helen and me for a while, was to walk up the Wilkin valley, over Rabbit Pass and down the East Matukituki. We dragged to boys back to New Zealand in January 2006 for a one-off whirlwind trip which proved to be A Ford Too Far...

Azure Wilkin RiverWe took the jetboat up the Wilkin to Kerin Forks (where Siberia Stream, mentioned in a previous walk joins the Wilkin) and commenced our tramp. We actually got off the boat well after midday, due to timing of public transport, but it was still enough time to get to Top Forks Hut, as the NZ summer days are light til after 9pm.
Walking alongside the river, it was fairly flat except for the up-and-down bits... There is a prominent hill directly adjacent to the river, a route which must be taken in high water, but we were able to clamber/wade around the side of it on this trip.

Wilkin River ViewNext day, we planned a day-trip up the Wilkin's North Branch to Lakes Diana, Lucidus and hopefully Castalia. Here we see Mt Pollux and Mt Castor in the background as we head off. Helen took this one.

Lakes above Top ForksWe spent several days at Upper Wilkin Hut, waiting for weather, and hoping Joseph's back would improve sufficiently for us to continue our walk. Our walk to the lakes was thwarted by some typical NZ mountain weather, which is capable of making it both stunningly beautiful and miserable at the same time...

Pink icingBy this time (day 4), it had been decided that we would not continue with the whole party over Rabbit Pass as planned, and that we would simply walk back out the way we came. However, Helen and I wanted to see what Rabbit Pass was like, so we got up early enough to see the sun rising on Pollux (or Castor) before taking off up the South Branch.

Waterfall Face from Waterfall Flat
Waterfall Face from Waterfall Flat, Upper Wilkin, South Branch. The Wilkin River falls on the left are 50m, but the Mt Taurus Falls on the right are 400m!!! The 150m climb of the tricky (some would say treacherous - depending on the weather) Waterfall Face is right in front of us.

Helen, Rabbit PassHowever, climb it we did, in fact we climbed up it, and back down (since this was a there-and-back-again day trip to Rabbit Pass). Tricky even in good weather, the Waterfall Face becomes virtually impassable for trampers in the wet or under snow. Here, Helen is descending on our return trip, which we found much more difficult than climbing up.

Upper Wilkin Valley
That day, we saw only two other parties. The one who took this picture, (behind us is the top of the 400m Mt Taurus falls), and a party much later on, as we were descending back to the hut. They had flown into Jumboland early in the day, and were walking from there up to Waterfall Flat in the one day. Several of them were in their fifties or sixties, and they were as tough as nails! Even though we walked only 13km that day, we ascended 800m, and descended the same.

Wilkin River viewAll that was left was to walk out from Top Forks hut the next day. We had to ford the Wilkin at Kerin Forks to continue on the true left bank, but were eventually able to flag a jet boat to come back to pick us up (much to the jet boat driver's annoyance and our expense). Even though we had many great memories of the beautiful area that we got into, we couldn't help feeling that we had missed the target here, and this is a walk that may see a repeat performance some time in the future.

As seen on Andrew Purdam's Bushwalking Treasure Box blog.

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