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South Island 6 The Grand Traverse Part A

South Island 6 The Grand Traverse Part A

Postby past my sell by date » Mon Sep 28, 2020 11:04 am

Date walked: 15/01/2003

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New Zealand control their Great Walks very tightly. You have to book them - on occasions as much as a year in advance, - and once booked to you have to stick rigidly to your schedule, even if it means tramping in appalling weather. :( Camping is forbidden within 200m of the track)
Although there is always a good track and no perilous river crossings - everything is bridged - you still have to carry all your food and equipment - quite a burden at my age :( :lol:
Of all the ones in South Island The Milford and the Routeburn are probably the finest and best known. The Greenstone - named after the green stone - a form of jade that the Maori found there is also quite stunning, and it is possible to tack this on to the beginning of Routeburn to create the Grand Traverse - lasting about six days.
On this occasion I decided to it in style with "Ultimate Hikes" who provide guides , carry everything except for your personal equipment, put you up every night in comfortable catered lodges and provide lunch on the track as well :D :D I was also lucky in having mostly fine sunny conditions. I booked it the previous May
whoile walk.jpg
Map of the entire walk

Day 1 Queenstown to Steele Creek lodge
day 1.jpg
Day 1 map
We set out early from Queenstown on the road to Glenorchy - stopping for an early breakafst at "Foxys" and took a jet boat from Glenorchy wharf to Greenstone pier. I was at the back hanging on for grim death :lol: :lol:
Early morning view looking North up the Lake from Bennets bluff to Pikirakatathi - Mt. Earnslaw (2819m) the third highest peak in Otago
From the pier the route went through thick forest of Southern Beech
Southern Beech forest
Southern Beech (Nothafagus) is a fast growing softwood found extensively in South island and also in Tasmania and in Chile.. There are at least three species Red, Black and Silver. The British settlers called it beech because the forests reminded them of beech forest back home. Nothofagus translates as "false beech
First open view of the Greenstone river - just above it's junction with the Caples
steele creek lodge.jpg
Our first night's lodging: Steele creek lodge lies at the point where the Caples track heads off Right up Steele creek

Day 2 Steele Creek Lodge to Lake McKellar

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Day 2 map
The track continues up the Greenstone valley through a series of gorges and "flats"
Looking into the Mid-Greenstone gorge early in the day
Looking back down the river valley
The route follows the valley upwards sometimes in open grassland and sometimes in forest
Looking back down the river valley from beside the gorge
The track follows the edge of the gorge through bog pine and other interesting vegetation to another longer flat
The beech forests across the gorge are particularly beautiful
Upper Greenstone flats just above the gorge
Looking back down the upper Greenstone flats
In mature Beech forest
Last view back down the Upper Greenstone flats
Nearing McKellar lodge at the end of the day - a meadow at the head of the valley
Mackellar lodge.jpg
McKellar lodge


Day 3 was a "rest day" for those who wanted - though the trip so far could scarcely be described as arduous :lol: , but there was an oppportiunity that most people took to climb quite steeply to "The Lookout" - a stunning viewpoint on the Divide at 1543m where we could look down on Lake McKellar and Lake Howden - the Greenstone Saddle lies between them - but also across the Hollyford valley to the Darrans - mecca of all New Zealand rock climbers. While the quality of most rock in the Southern Allps is dire :lol: the Darrans are composed of Diorite - comparable to - if not rougher than - Skye Gabbro :D :D
Early morning on the climb - looking through the trees to Lake McKellar and the mountains beyond
Another view through the tops of the beech trees: threads of white lichen abound
A giant of the forest - blocks out the sun
Lake McKellar from just above the trees:
A last view back down the upper Greenstone - some daisies in the foreground
A number of large red (possibly erratic) boulders litter this part of the hillside
Another view of the boulder looking South towards the Livingstone mountains
First view of Mount Christina and the Darrans - point 1543 is up to the Left
Lake McKellar and Lake Howden from The Lookout. The Greenstone Saddle lies between them. In the Lake District they are Passes, in the Alps Cols, in the Highlands Bealachs: In New Zealand they are generally called Saddles. The Greenstone Saddle is also the Divide : The waters from Lake Howden flow into the Hollyford and West down to the Tasman Sea; those from Lake McKellar back to lake Wakatipu and the East
The Darrans from just below the summit: the most prominent is Mount Christina (2474m)
From the summit Looking NNE down Lake McKellar to the Hollyford: The Caples track comes over the saddle above the lake - left of Jean Batten Peak (2012m)
Looking NW across the upper Hollyford valley to the Darrans.
Looking South from the Summit to the Livingstone mountains - the highest peaks are just over 2000m
The grassy and rocky terrain around the Lookout also boasted a host of glorious flowers.
Yellow Marguerites. All the other flowers are white as they are pollinated by small flies that have very poor eyesight
Right - Mountain Gentians - apart from the colour these are very similar to the field gentians found in the Swiss Alps in great abundance: L - New Zealand Willowherb
Mountain Daisies - Celmisia semicordata
Sword-leaved Daisies - Celmisia Lyalli - also known as False Spaniards
Woolly Spaniard - a close cousin of the fearsome Horrid Spaniards that we would encounter later
A different Daisy with hard leaves (Celmisia Bellidoides) and mountain Coprosma a small berried shrub
Above New Zealand Eidelweiss and cushion moss - Below - the aptly named vegetable sheep :lol: :lol:
Above - Mountain Primula - Ourisia Macrocarpa; below - Unknown white fllower - perhaps a Euphrasia related to Eyebright

Eventually it was time to return to the hut - but what a stunning day :D :D I took a couple more photos on the descent
Left - looking through the trees to Jean Batten peak - Right - another view in the forest

Continued in Part B https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=100603&p=432677#p432677
past my sell by date
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Re: South Island 6 The Grand Traverse Part A

Postby litljortindan » Wed Sep 30, 2020 7:43 pm

Amazing landscape.
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Re: South Island 6 The Grand Traverse Part A

Postby past my sell by date » Sat Oct 17, 2020 7:11 pm

litljortindan wrote:Amazing landscape.

Yes - It has everything that Scotland has, plus this extraordinarily diverse forest :D and it's totally benign :shock: :shock:
The most dangerous thing in New Zealand I believe, is a tree nettle than can give you an anaphylactic shock if you are susceptible. :crazy:
Compare that with its near neighbour OZ where almost everything you meet is potentially lethal :lol: :lol: :lol:
past my sell by date
Posts: 812
Munros:282   Corbetts:84
Grahams:27   Donalds:6
Sub 2000:3   Hewitts:146
Joined: Apr 24, 2013

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