Rees-Dart Feb '67
Rees-Dart Feb '67
Remnants of pre-trip impressions spring to mind at this juncture - hurried toll-calls to Napier and Wanganui; paralysing the grocery check-out counter at Wright- Stephensons for ten minutes on a Friday night - after terrorizing the innocent bourgoisie with twenty spondlicks worth of kai on grossly overloaded pushcarts; carefully parcelling out dehy veg, pog, gravel, bricks etc to the last cubic Angstrom in a Karori dining room; and lugging a helluva weight of stuff onto the Whine.
Yo ho Gadzooks and we're away - such was the suspicious start, (please give your ice-axes to the purser etc). The ensuing twenty-four hours saw us projecting an image of North Island students (why aren't they working, the yokels?) in the ferry, taxi, Mt Cook bus, Queenstown kombi until let loose in the lower Rees, when we promptly turned into jolly good young folks, pride of New Zild's adventurous spirit in the mountains. Anyway, the first day was fine and about 98% humidity, so visiting the Old Invincible mine half an hour above the Rees on the true left bank made temperatures rise. Signor Edmund's temperature rose far more quickly when he discovered a thoughtfully provided brick amongst his alloted food ration. Slow chugging and cussing (ratio of chugs to cusses about 1:2) up to 25-mile hut, built close to a magnifique slit gorge, thru' which the 25-mile creek pounds, naturally enough.
The next day was judged unfit to do any day trip to Kea Basin, so a day trip to a mighty mountain behind the hut was substituted. Three hours hard climbing and baiting keas with Minty papers brought us to the summit of our chosen peak. All the way up this thing I had been wondering why such a magnificent great lump was not named on the map. Enlightenment was immediate on conquering it - behind this miserable wart of a 6000 footer lay the 8000 footers which were named on the map. Undaunted, our merrie bank withdrew strategically to the hut, the more fun-loving ones engaging in the happy sport of chundering huge disc-shaped rockes at a pair of bewildered goats which were standing about half a mile down a sleep gully.
(As the sun set behind Earnslaw on the first evening at 25-mile hut Gerald erupted for the second time. Foaming at the mouth he appeared at the door of the hut with a 2½1b milk tin full of good old Karori gravel. Poor lad, he had laboured under this mighty load from the bottom of the Rees, also labouring under the [unclear: a] misapprehension that it was Rice. Most unfortunate)
The food lapsed into dehy, the rain came down, the Rees came up and we fermented the next day in our pits.
4a.m. Giddup Giddup. We're going to Dart hut today. Away at 7a.m. in light rain. Over the Rees and pound away up the true right bank and into the bush and climb page break and the sun comes out and we halt outside Upper Rees hut, which could be mistaken for a galvanized shoe box, but it has a dirt floor, and after a brew and some bickies and a gawp at the mountains, away into the Upper Rees. By now, gentle reader, the terrain is becoming more rugged, as is the language of the more unfit. However, il fait [unclear: because] we stroll thru' tussock on a climbing [unclear: ale] on the true left bank once again. A lunch stop was democratically decided on just below the Rees Saddle (or is it Snowy Saddle?) and soon we were examing the crook bivvies and scanding on the saddle in glorious sunshine, glorifying in glorious glories of peaks galore. Progress was slower down the Snowy, although the only difficulty lay in negotiating a precipice which sidekick led us into. (This moan was propagated by the afore-mentioned sidekick - who should really be called leader - appropriating from Dart Hut a jersey which your scribe should have laid his hands on first), Enuff sed.
A day trip by four of the five to Cascado basin proved wet and miserable, but we did catch a view of the Matukituki before returning, by an [unclear: cesierrute] closer to the Dart Glacier, to the drier [unclear: lowlands.]
All departed next day to Cattle Flat in glorioue sunshine. The walk down thru' the forest with glimpses of surrounding icy peaks, next to a rather swift-looking, heffalump-coloured Dart, put them in good spirits. Deafening was the sound of the camera shutters. That night was spent in tents at the very bottom of the flat. As darkness approached a friendly hunter, with whom we had strolled down the flat, walked into camp with a newly shot' [unclear: nars.] Yodels of thanks from all.
In the morning all hopes of a trip to O'Leary's Pass vanished with the sunshine at about eight o'clock. A belated fast start was the order of the day as the first shower drove us into the nearby forest.
After a hard slag of nearly half an hour down the four lane track a bivvy-rock was espied just of the track, and after a brew, it was decided (undemocratically according to some) that here we would stay because it would surely rain with great heaviness that day. And so we did. And so it did - all [unclear: a] mornings, all afternoon, when the hare was boiled for about 5/12 hours, (then eaten) and all night. Card playing, chirping at the fearless ubiquitous bush robins and [unclear: a] [unclear: serfering] with the fire (which was situated just [unclear: utsiae] the shelter afforded by rock) served to break the monotony of the continuous rain and prolonged lack of movement Morning brought an easing of the pleut and a casual departure for the lower Dart. At a light to moderate, variable pace we passed thru' some really beautiful flats which served as an air-base for several million sandflies (...and yea, verily did they darken the skies). Casualties were described as heavy.
The dark interior of Hut was duly inspected, Dredge page break the party deeming this area a fit one to have lunch in. Luncheon consisted of buttering one's hands with sharp knifes and taking a swing with one's jaws at some hard mineral referred to in lighter moments as "Taraua [unclear: a] a cluster of packs, and even more [unclear: rapidy] becoming dizzy [unclear: a] at the [unclear: sandflaes]. Much fun was had by all.
Many squashod sandflies later we headed for sandy Bluff. Due to a Dart still swollen from the night's rain this bluff was clambered over instead of circumnavigated. Thunder began booming a [unclear: a] decended the downriver side and progress hastened until a [unclear: siderstream] with 'Not Negotiable' written all over it was encounted. As it turned out, we crossed it with a pole quite safely and pressed on to Survey Flat where the to tents were pitched on dry ground. That night lightning flashes made the tent glow a bright green. In spite of the dowepoor, which lasted most of the night, the tent [unclear: eloore] still consisted of a dry comfy spagnum mass in the morning.
The last noal day of the trip saw us round Chinamans' Bluff in dampish weathers, ferverishly gobaling lunch at a new No. Z.F.S. hut below Dan's Paddock: listening to tales of the old days of gold and sheelite mining in the Dart and Rees in the Miller's kitcheon; walking five miles on a flooded road towards Glenorchy, then being delivered to its wharf in a [unclear: dalaphiated] taxi by a horribly delaphidated driver; and sleeping in the Glenorchy whart shed.
Little drips and drabe of after tip details now come to mind - the bus catching fire on the way to Queenstown; storming out of a Queenstown fish and chipery in a bad temper; Lesley and [unclear: a] walking two and a half hours out of Queenstown before getting a ride (after watching Clive and Graham hurtle by in a the bus): arriving at Christchurch station that night to meet a surprised Ulize and Graham, and lastly listening to comments such as My, look at their huge boots on the Wahine again.
Scribe and leader (in name only): Peter Radcliffe
Sidekick: Clive Bolt
Cooker of Teas Lesley Ragnall.
Carrier of gravel and bricks Gerald Edmunds
Chief Assistant to the Assistant Chief: Graham Duncan.