Mt Somers Hakatere Conservation Park
It began in late February at the Sharplin Falls Reserve car park (During their 38 days adventuring through the South Island – see also Bendigo trip report).
Two serendipitous conversations in the car park gave us an insight to volunteer involvement of locals in the park. The first was with a volunteer warden heading off for a week of wardening at Pinnacle Hut. The two huts on the Mt Somers Track require on-line booking during the summer season. The second conversation was with two volunteers beginning a day's work focused on wasp control along the track. There was much evidence of Vespex traps as we journeyed through the beech forest section of our day.
Information on access to, and features of, the Mt Somers area is available via the DOC website and brochure.
We travelled along the Mt Somers Track in a counter-clockwise direction through beech forest and subalpine scrub. Shortly after cresting Staveley Hill we left the round-the-mountain track and began a mostly direct ascent up a broad spur on the south face of Mt Somers.
The ascent route (650 m +/-) has a clear footpad and is poled. The terrain under foot is mostly unconsolidated and varies from pebbles to rocks. The vegetation changes from shrubs to tussock to lichens on the barren summit (1688 m).
From the summit there is an amazing 360o panorama of the Canterbury region, from the east coast to the Southern Alps. On the day we visited, the view towards Christchurch, over the plains, was occluded by significant smoke plumes from rural burn-offs. On the summit itself is a unique feature acknowledging the beginning of the current millennium. The feature includes an arrivals log-book, which revealed that the majority of recent signatories were not New Zealand residents.
The gentle breeze at that altitude on a fine summer day was not overly warm, but our slightly extended lunch break allowed us to savour the grandeur of the outlook. The return journey was made with care – downward travel is more challenging than upward travel on steep and unconsolidated terrain. We arrived back at the car after a seven-hour adventure.
- Party members
- Tricia French & Bill Allcock(scribe).