Planned for a over year, this was to be an epic five day hike up the Matukituki Valley, over Cascade Saddle and down the Rees Valley, taking in some of the best alpine sections of Mt Aspiring National Park (between Wanaka and Queenstown). Unfortunately bad weather curtailed it to just over one day.
You don’t want to be on exposed and steep alpine terrain in heavy rain and wind, several people have died on Cascade Saddle during such conditions. So I played it safe, and thankfully had a pretty good one day at least.
Starting from Raspberry Creek I head west along Matukituki Valley to the bridge over the Matukituki River West Branch. Here I dropped my pack to relief after only fifteen minutes of walking, and crossed over to head up to the lookouts for the Rob Roy Glacier.
Not a patch on the mighty Perito Moreno Glacier, but still worth a quick look before returning to collect my pack and head up the West Matukituki Valley, where I got another, probably better, view of the glacier.
Helped by perfect weather but the Matukituki Valley is really rather nice… …and became even more so upon reaching Mt Aspiring National Park itself, and the cow pats were replaced by colourful yellow flowers (though they are weeds).
Energy was required to tackle part of the Cascade Saddle route. Speaking to the hut warden the weather was going to start to pack up tomorrow, with 100mm rain forecast for the day following, when I’d planned to cross the notorious Cascade Saddle. While the weather was fine though thought I’d get a taster of it.
Which got even better the higher I went, but after half an hour I started to get to the sections which have caused multiple fatalities over the years, steep rock faces, and slippery (when wet) snow grass. Took one last panoramic view of the West Matukituki Valley before heading back down to Aspiring Hut.
I’m not a fan of cows (particularly after my Moonlight Track experience) and heading back to Raspberry Creek required a fair bit of careful cow avoiding.
Reached the car park shortly before the bus back to Wanaka arrived. Unfortunately today’s bus was completely different to yesterday’s, with the only logo on the rear of the vehicle. Which I saw as it drove off into the dust… Thankfully a quick 100m dash and much arm waving managed to attract the driver’s attention.
A fitting end to this trip.