NZ 4×4 Treks Ltd
Itinerary South Canterbury High Country-West Coast-Buller-Marlborough-North Canterbury 2018
Day 1 – The assembly point for the start of the trip is Fairlie , a pretty township nestled below the Hunter Hills Range and the Two Thumb and Four Peaks Ranges in the West leading into the Southern Alps, motel accommodation ,and a meal this evening is included in your trip fee. A full briefing including Safety Procedures wii take place in one of the Motel rooms prior to dinner. This is a chance to meet the team, relax and discuss highlights of the trip ahead.
Day 2– Assemble on grass verge outside Motel for a briefing on our planned route for the day. Then we head North out of Fairlie taking Clayton Road through Sherwood Downs and Clayton with beautiful views of Mount Fox on our Left, the Four Peaks Range on our right and the Clayton and Ben McLeod Ranges to the North. As we progress North you will also get great Views of the Two Thumb Range in the Southern Alps.We cross the Orari River into a private High Country Station and follow the river through open country dotted with native bush, poplars and willows. The track heads East into the gorge of the Orari River with views of Mt. Peel ( 1717m ) in the north and the Four Peaks Range now South as we follow the river to finally head out to Tripp Settlement at tracks end. Our accommodation this evening is in Geraldine where we relax, and discuss the days events over an evening meal.
Day 3– Assemble outside Motel for briefing. This morning we head North through Mt. Peel settlement and follow the Rangitata River to Mesopotamia Station with uninterrupted views across this classic glacier fed braided river. The scenery is breathtaking with mountains on all sides as we explore alpine country very few people in New Zealand and particularly overseas visitors have ever experienced. The track takes us across an alpine flat with views of Cloudy Peak ( 2399m ) , and Potts and Big Hill Ranges to the West in the Southern Alps. We follow the private Station track along the river’s edge to enter the Rangitata Gorge, then on to a classic musterer’s hut for lunch, all the while taking in the magnificent views of the Main Divide and Mt. Arrowsmith ( 2795m ) immediately to our right. Our return journey takes us along the river bed to the old station homestead where our hosts tonight are the Station Owners who will give us a taste of life in the High Country and enjoy a traditional home cooked New Zealand meal.
Day 4 – Assemble outside the station accomodation , our route today takes us East through the Rakaia Gorge, west to Lake Coleridge and North to Lake Lyndon where we join the main highway to cross the Southern Alps through Arthurs pass to the West Coast. We will stop at the Arthurs Pass lookout to observe one of New Zealand’s most ambitious Civil Engineering Projects undertaken to the present time. If the conditions are suitable once on the West Coast we will climb the ridge to access some classic West Coast scenery in the Taipo Valley before heading out to our Motel in Greymouth and a relaxing meal in anticipation of tomorrows highlights.
Day 5 – Assemble outside Motel then head North towards Reefton, our track today is classic West Coast scenery in stark contrast to the previous three days with limestone cliffs, tea coloured streams and stunning Beech Forests. A climb up and over a ridge once inhabited by a mining town takes us into Nobles Creek stream bed which winds it’s way between limestone cliffs and Beech Forest full of native birds. The creek exits through two natural tunnels formed by the stream and later expanded by the miners so they are just big enough to drive through, so with lights on we travers these very unique features to exit into the Waipuna River. A fun drive down the river gets us to the Main Highway and on to Reefton for a well earned meal and nights rest at the Reefton Auto Lodge.
Day 6 – Big River is not that big at all but the track in to one of the West Coast’s most well preserved gold mining sites takes us through West Coast rainforest, with its ancient beech trees draped in Lichen and moss of every shade of green. At one time the track was the lifeline to the mining settlement of Big River, in the first quarter of this century 100 people lived in the town at the end of the track. The mine that drew them there surrendered 100,000 ounces of gold before its quartz reef gave out in the 1940’s.
Waterfalls cascade from switchback corners as you zigzag down through the steep valley walls. Past the site of the old Merrijigs Hotel we begin to see the relics of the old gold mining with tunnels winding into the hillside now providing residence for impressive looking cave Wetas. After a sharp drop into the tea coloured waters of Big River we arrive at the Settlement Flat, site of the town and gold extraction plant and an opportunity to explore the 10 head stamper used to crush the quartz that came down the aerial ropeway from the mine itself.
This evening we get a second night back in Reefton with a chance to try something different on the generous pub menu.
Day 7 – Reefton to Westport and Waimangaroa on the coast where we take the road to the Denniston Coalmine made famous by the incredibly steep Denniston Incline rail road which for many years was the mines only access. Magnificent views of the West Coast Stretch North and South as far as the eye can see while reading the history and studying the huge array of relics from the mine’s colourful past. The track passes seams of coal smouldering away under the surface and winds it’s way into Beech Forests and the familiar rugged terrain of this area. Weather permitting we will cross the Mackley River and continue out through a very pretty track to the Iron Bridge and St Arnaud, a pretty alpine village right on the shores of Lake Rotoroa where we get to stay in lovely log cabin accomodation, dinner this evening is at the tasteful Alpine Lodge with great hosts Leighton and Alexandra
Day 8 – We retrace our steps from yesterday travelling down the Main road following the mighty Buller River to Longburn just North of Murchison to explore the delightful forest glades on the Braeburn .
The Howard Valley South of St Arnaud will be our entry to more iconic Beech Forests that make the West Coast and Buller Gorge Region so special. Our destination is the challenging Porika Track which starts at Lake Rotoroa and switchbacks up to some magnificent views of this lovely lake for a well earned morning tea break. We continue through Beech forest glades on the Porika Track after smoko to Howard Valley before heading up the Buller Gorge past St Arnaud to start the afternoon track.
Beeby’s Knob is in direct contrast to our morning programme with wide sweeping views over neighbouring mountain ranges including those that we came through on the previous day reaching a breathtaking 5,000ft in altitude. It can be icy cold on this windswept plateau so back at the bottom a visit to the historic Tophouse Pub is a mandatory stop to be entertained by the owner with the Pub’s gruesome history and savour a drink poured by your own hand at the quaint little self serve bar.
Accomodation this evening is back at Nelson Lakes Motels and dinner is at the Alpine Lodge with Hosts Leighton and Alexandra and the team will get together for a final meal and prizegiving to relax and relive highlights of a memorable trip with old friends.
Please note that all tracks are weather dependant and changes may be made to this itinerary if the listed tracks are inaccessible.
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