Sylvester Hut - Iron Hill Kahurangi National Park
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 adventure was anchored by participation in two club multi-day trips, plus a variety of day trips and some short rambles. This was one of those day trips.
Sylvester Hut is situated on the verge of the tussock zone on the western side of the Cobb Reservoir at an altitude of 1,325 m. Access details to the hut are available on the DoC website. We woke to a calm blue-dome morning; and having the hut to ourselves, we relaxedly got our day underway. The feeling of 'trampers' euphoria' immediately wrapped itself around us as we moved along the track to Sylvester Lake and Little Sylvester Lake - unrestricted vistas, no wind, gentle gradient [see photo]. Industrial remnants at the lakes are indicators of previous generations' foresight and ambitions – the lakes were part of an engineering precursor of the current Cobb valley hydro operation.
Beyond the lake, travel was through an untracked tussock landscape, punctuated with rock outcrops. The gradient up to the ridge-line was comfortable. The tussock gave way to small grasses and shrubs, and then loose rock rubble, followed by consolidated rocks and boulders on the crown of the ridge. We were on a southern offshoot of the Lockett Range.
Travel along the ridge top was mostly 'line of least resistance'. The ground underfoot was mostly jagged rocks of varying size that required careful foot placement. Prominent outcrops often necessitated short, careful sidles. We got to Iron Hill (1,695 m) and enjoyed an extended lunch taking in the panoramic vistas. To the southeast was the Arthur Range, where we had been two days previously, and to the southwest was Peel range, the range we had crossed the previous day. Immediately to the west we looked down into the Cobb River, and beyond, to the west, were the ranges of the Tasman Mountains.
The afternoon was spent retracing our route back to the hut. Impressive patches of vegetable sheep were more prominent in the afternoon sun. By the time we got down into the basin where the two lakes lie, the afternoon heat ensured a refreshing swim was enjoyed.
By the time we got back to the hut for a welcome cuppa, there were sufficient people to occupy all of the 12 bunks. However, two chose to sleep out in individual tents. Of the twelve at the hut that night, four of us were residents of New Zealand. The day had been a relaxed journey, with an altitude gain of under 400 metres. The weather and the vistas left us inspired to dream of adventures in other parts of Kahurangi National Park.
- Party members
- Tricia French and Bill Allock (scribe)