A New Zealand mountain traverse

In February-March this year, Grant Dixon and I undertook a long walk through the trackless coastal mountains west of Mount Aspiring/Tititea – part of the Te Wahipounamu/South West New Zealand World Heritage Area. This was one of the most satisfying wilderness journeys I have undertaken.  We crossed part of the Northern Olivine Range and then traversed the Red Hills to Red Mountain and the full length of the Skippers Range into the Hollyford valley, crossing the near-sea-level valleys of the Cascade River and Pyke River along the way.  Then, as planned, Grant continued on to Martins Bay and Milford Sound, while I exited via the Hollyford Track.

In three weeks we saw no-one else in this remote wilderness country.  The weather was relatively kind (for the New Zealand Alps), with only a few storms and one decent snowfall, and we were able to do everything we hoped.  Highlights included the stark ultramafic country around Red Mountain (which we climbed), gnarled bushline forests, the superb alpine tops of the Skippers Range and panoramic views across the Main Divide, out to the Tasman Sea and south to Mount Tutoko and the Darran Mountains.

Grant on the Skippers Range, evening.

Grant is also a photographer, but we were both forced to ‘go light’ on this one, opting for small mirrorless cameras, and only one lens for me.  Given the constraints, I was pretty happy with the results, and you can see them now in “New Images” or later in the New Zealand gallery.