Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Trip Report: Mavora Lake to Forks Hut - Southland

One sunny weekend in November, Elmo and I set out to explore a section of the Mavora Lakes Conservation Park. Poor Winston is recovering from an injury, so he stayed home. There is very little in the way of poison operations planned for this area this summer, so hopefully this will be the first of many trips. I talked to the DoC office in September. Dogs are allowed up to Forks Hut without a permit, and to Taipo Hut but not beyond, outside of lambing season.

We also took the opportunity to test out Elmo's new backpack, and Sunday Pets freeze dried food, more on these in separate posts.

It was an early start on Saturday as Elmo woke up with the sun, and we were walking by 7.30am and admiring the mist in the valley. The first part of the track is following a four wheel drive track through bush, which soon opens up to tussock land. The NZ Herald ran an article recently complaining about the state of the tracks, and the damage done by 4WD vehicles, and I certainly saw many signs of that.

Two and a half hours of easy walking later (I'm a bit slow) we came across Careys Hut, and had morning tea there, while chatting to a lovely couple from Wanaka who had come down for a weekend of fishing

After Carey Hut the track quickly rose from the lake level to give beautiful views of the head of the lake, and plenty of time to look down and plan a route across the upcoming rivers, the Mararoa River and Windon Burn.

The river crossings were wide and smooth, both about knee deep at the time of crossing (my knees, not Elmo's!). This was the first time Elmo had done river crossings of any significant width, and he tucked himself in on my downstream side the whole way across. He's not silly!!

An hour after leaving Careys Hut we were safely across both rivers. From here an unmaintained 4WD track follows the true right of the Windon Burn, This track is boggy in places, and underwater in others, and we both ended up doing a lot of walking through tussock to avoid bogs. Elmo loved this bit, apparently I should do it more often! This did however slow our progress. By this time the mist had well and truly burnt off and we were getting quite hot! I was very grateful for Elmo's extra water bladders.

We reached Forks Hut at around 2pm, after a stop for lunch, and a couple of smaller river crossings. Although smaller, they were also deeper and had more large rocks, making them more arkward than the ones earlier in the day. We had a look around the hut and signed the hut book, then headed back down the valley.

The return trip to the confluence of the Windon Burn and Mararoa River took around three hours, so I decided to pitch the tent near here for the night. Once across the rivers, there weren't really any more good campsites until very near Careys Hut.

Elmo was exhaused, and lay on his side the entire time it took me to pitch the tent and set up camp, only moving when I called him for dinner, after which he proceeded to curl up on my sleeping bag and resume his nap. Unfortunately my camera battery was dead by this stage so i didn't get any photos of the campsite or return trip.

Sunday morning allowed a bit of a sleep in, followed by the two river crossings, and an easy walk back to Careys hut for morning tea. The fishing couple from Wanaka had gone by this stage, although I was passed by three off-road trail bikes heading back towards Mavora Campsite, presumably having come out from Boundary Hut.

From here it was a short wander back to the campsite, and then the long drive home.

Local DOC Office

Murihiku / Invercargill Office
Phone:  +64 3 211 2400
7th Floor
CUE on Don
33 Don Street
Invercargill 9810
Email: invercargill@doc.govt.nz

Te Rua-o-te-moko / Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre
Phone:  +64 3 249 7924
Fiordland National Park
Visitor Centre
Lakefront Drive
Te Anau 9600
Email: fiordlandvc@doc.govt.nz

I have to make a mention of Karin Dougherty particularly as being extremely helpful when I emailed to confirm what areas dogs are allowed in.

Pest Control Operations

DOC Land

Closest Vet

Northern Southland Vets
Te Anau Clinic
133 Govan Drive
Te Anau, New Zealand
Phone: 03 249 7039
Open Hours: Monday to Friday - 8.30am - 5pm (24 hour, 7 days a week, 365 days a year emergency service)

Further Information

Mavora Lakes Campsite
Mavora Lakes Park PDF (note that the information on where dogs are allowed here is slightly different to what the DoC office told me, When in doubt I prefer to go with the most up-to-date information)
Snowden Forest and Mavora Dog Access Area Map

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