Thomson Range - Mavora Lakes Conservation Park, Te Wahipounamu/South-West - World Heritage Area
In February and March of this year we spent 38 days adventuring through the South Island. Twenty-four of those days we spent wholly or partially in the conservation estate. Our trip was anchored by participation in two club multi-day trips and also included a variety of day trips and some short rambles. This was one of those day trips.
We started our day from the DOC campsite near the southern end of South Mavora Lake. We had a stroll of about a kilometre north along the road, until we picked what looked like a straight-forward spur up to the crown of the range. A compass bearing was taken, and we were off-track for the rest of the day.
From the road, easily traversed tussock led to beech forest. The forest was easy to travel through, with significant bird song and a mostly padded ground surface. The spur we had identified became defined in the forest and comfortably allowed us to travel up and break out into scrub/tussock/rocky-outcrop terrain. As we ascended above the tree line the ground underfoot become increasingly loose; and when we reached the top of the ridge there were primarily rocks and pebbles underfoot.
We had arrived on the crown of the southern end of the Thomson Range at an altitude of about 1,150 metres. The remainder of our forward progress was along the crest, avoiding the occasional tor. At times, careful foot placement was required because of the erratic nature of the sharp rocks and boulders. We had an extended lunch at our farthest point of travel – pt 1,590.
We were treated to a magnificent 360 degree vista. To the north and west were mountains and mountains, with the Livingstone Mountains rising immediately from North Mavora Lake. To the immediate east we looked down on the Mt Nicholas Road, imagining cyclists pedalling their way along that section of the 'Around The Mountains' cycle trail; and we also watched a travelling dust cloud generated by a couple of stock trucks. Beyond the valley were the Eyre Mountains. To the south was the valley of the Mararoa River.
The impression we were left with at the lunch stop, and along our return south along the crown of the range, was 'big country'. The blue dome day with minimal wind made for an embedded sense of the grandeur of this area of Te Wahipounamu – South West New Zealand World Heritage Area.
Our descent off the range crest was on a spur just slightly to the north of where we went up, but the soft footing and bird song were still enrapturing. There was no end-of-the-day haste. The day was a special adventure through untracked, varied terrain.
Upon our return to our tent we acknowledged our new cycling neighbour, as we had another the previous evening – both doing the Round The Mountains circuit as multi-day trips.
The time spent in the Mavora Lakes Conservation Park was special in its entirety because of its isolated position. We acknowledged that this visit for us would be 'a oncer' – the lakes are at the end of a thirty-five kilometre gravel road off highway 94, in northern Southland. A special time - a special place.
- Party members
- Tricia French & Bill Allcock (scribe).