Wednesday, February 9, 2022

A little slice of the Catlins

Waitangi weekend came, but with low cloud making it impossible to chopper in to the hut, our hut renovation project got postponed a second time. So I headed south to Tuatapere to meet Greg, one of the Permolat Southland board members and fellow tramper and packrafter, and then made my way to the Catlins to tick off a couple more huts.

Mouth of the Waiau, part of a scouting mission for a future trip...

On the way I explored the south coast from Monkey Island to Riverton, before heading inland.

I'd tried to get to Thisbe Creek three years ago, but took the wrong road and spent a night stranded and bogged. This time I took the correct route.

I parked the car just off the road and walked through the unlocked gate, over private land, through another gate, across a small stream and then across a meadow to a stile and the start of conservation land. I met a mother with her two daughters walking back out, having spent a pleasant night at MacLennan Hut with a couple of hunters.

Once on DOC land it was a wander through Manuka and gorse to rejoin the stream and enter the forest. It's a beech forest with a fairly thick understorey of crown ferns, suggesting perhaps too many deer. Deer preferentially munch on broadleaf plants, leading to a loss of plant biodiversity and an overgrowth of crown ferns. There was evidence of an extensive trapping program in the area, though the birdlife wasn't prolific.

The stream was pretty and the forest refreshing. There was a gentle climb to a saddle and then a bit of a steep descent to MacLennan River, which was then followed upstream to the hut. I'd met the two hunters on their way back out, so had the place to myself for the night.

The walk out was just as pleasant, and I stopped at the bivs just inside the conservation land for lunch and a cuppa. These bivs are used for the trapping program, an effort to preserve the mohua still present in the valley.

The farmer had locked the gate at the road end, so I had to climb over it to get back to my car. Then I drove down the valley to Owaka, and out to Surat Bay to visit Jack and Ester. But they'd gone away for a few days so I headed off north instead to climb some hills.

That's next.

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