[SUBW-A] REPORT - Inland Pack Track, NZ, Feb 3rd/4th 2002

Danny Yee danny at anatomy.usyd.edu.au
Fri Mar 1 09:58:43 AEDT 2002

Inland Pack Track, South Island New Zealand
February 3rd and 4th, 2002
Joe Li, Adrienne Vukovic, Danny Yee

[Punakaiki is on the west coast of New Zealand's South Island]

     Monday February 5th

     We  drove  up  to  the  Punakaiki  DOC  centre,  where  we  left an
     "intention  notice"  in  the  office and the car in the carpark. We
     then had pancakes for breakfast before walking back towards the pub
     while  trying to hitch (we needed to go 12km north to the Fox river
     crossing).  Joe  was picked up fairly quickly, while Adrienne and I
     were  picked  up by a laundry truck doing its twice-weekly round up
     the coast.

     We followed the track  up  the northern bank of the river to Fox
     Caves, where we had lunch. Joe and I went into the caves, which are
     described  as  "safe"  and an easy walk in, but which seemed pretty
     hairy  to  us, clambering along narrow slippery ledges above deeply
     cut  cracks.  (It  didn't  help that my torch batteries were almost
     flat, which I didn't realise till much later.) We turned back after
     going  maybe  20m  in.  Joe  thought he'd been there before, but it
     wasn't  as he remembered at all, so we don't know what was going on

     I changed out of boots and into volleys at this point. Instead of
     going back downriver to cross to the other side we scrambled down
     a steep bank to the river, waded across, and climbed up a small
     rockslide to the track on the other side. We stopped there for
     a while, only to find when we set off that the signs on either
     side of us said "danger, falling rocks".  When we reached the
     junction of the Fox and Dilemma rivers, Adrienne waited while
     Joe and I waded up the Fox to the Ballroom, a huge overhang
     that would fit hundreds.  Then we went on up the Dilemma,
     wading calf-deep up wide flat riverbeds running through lush
     rainforest. (The walk follows an old cart route, used before
     the coastal road was built.)

     We camped at a nice spot right at the junction of the Dilemma
     and the Fossil creek. There were annoying numbers of sandflies
     and an intermittent drizzle, but we lit a fire (using the first
     twenty pages of one of my books) and had a solid meal. There
     was a bit of rain overnight.

     Tuesday February 5th

     The Inland Pack Track is about 25km and can be done in anywhere
     from one to three days. We'd originally planned to do it in three,
     but given the weather and the not so attractive next campsite
     (near Bullock Creek farm), we had pretty much decided to walk
     out when we set off on the second day. (It's probably worth
     taking three days over it and using the extra time to do some
     exploration further up the Dilemma or the Fossil.)

     We  started  with  what  was  perhaps  the nicest bit of the route,
     wading  up  Fossil  creek. Leaving the creek, we then went across a
     limestone/karst  plateau,  cut by gulleys and with signs warning of
     the  dangers  of "grikes" if one strayed off the track. (A grike is
     "a  deep,  narrow,  vertical  or steeply inclined, rectilinear slot
     with  almost parallel sides", but it sounded like a kind of monster
     to  me!) There was also bit of mud, but nothing difficult (and
     no leeches).

     At the Bullock Creek farm we stopped for a fairly miserable
     lunch, with the rain getting strong enough for us to bring out
     our rainjackets (the only time I used mine on the trip) and the
     sandflies a right nuisance.  There was, however, a view of the
     mountains (Euclid and Warning?) to the east, and a temptingly
     signposted Mt Bovis track...  When we reached the Pororari
     we separated, with Joe continuing on to the Punakaiki river,
     while Adrienne and I went down the Pororari.  That brought us
     out right at the pub, where I had a quick drink before walking
     up to the DOC centre to meet Joe and get the car.

[A web version of this with photos will be available at some point, 
on my bushwalking and travel pages at http://danny.oz.au/travel/ .]


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