Dawn on the Tin Range, Rakiura N.P.
Te Anau Helicopters dropped us off at the upper end of Cook Arm, Port Pegasus at low tide providing us with a good view of the terrain on route from Bluff. From here our group of five had allocated up to ten days to get back to Oban after checking out the granite peaks of Gog & Magog in the Fraser Range and then cross country to Belltopper Falls, in the North Arm of Port Pegasus. From here we had a route to follow over the Tin Range to Rakeahua Hut and a muddy track to our water-taxi pickup at Fred's Camp Hut on Paterson Inlet.
The timing of the trip was built around having low tides in the mornings at the start of the trip. This enabled us to traverse the shoreline to maximise the distance travelled during the earlier days of the trip around Port Pegasus which was much quicker than bull dozing thru the scrub on the coast. After setting up camp close to where we had been dropped off we started off to explore the imposing Fraser Range granite peaks. We found a ground trail that lead thru the sub-alpine schub to the granite outcrop of Hielanman and then up the north eastern side of Magog. From here we had great views south to Port Pegasus, south to the imposing peak of Gog and out to the west coast of the island. The trip there and back quickly established that travel thru the thick 1-2m high sub-alpine scrub was going to be really slow going and for the remainder of the trip we avoided this zone where possible.
Over the following days we made our way north along the foreshore at low tide and then thru the bush keeping where possible to the low altitude forest (<100m) of Rimu and Totara which provided reasonably good travel in valleys. This was the opposite of our usual off track modus operandi where we usually travelled along ridges and spurs where the vegetation was more open. On reaching Pegasus creek above Belltopper Falls we found this in full flood running at least two meters higher than expected. With no suitable camping spots and limited time we made our way N.W. and started crossing the smaller tributaries. Camping beside one of these we found by the following morning it had dropped significantly and we easily crossed it and made our way east until we hit the well cut Surveyors Track providing access onto the Tin Range.
We found travel over the Tin Range reasonable straight forward as there is a well trodden ground trail which was cairned with rocks or a vertical stick. We found good campsites at the dam on the Tin Range Tramway and another in the valley between Mt Allen and Blaikies Hill.(marked on the map) We found the campsites at either end of the tarn below Mt Allen to be very exposed and the extra hours travel to the valley floor well worth the effort.We had poor visibility as we traversed Blaikies & Table Hill and we needed to really pay attention to the sometime infrequent markers. This was especially important as we exited Table Hill and entered the thick sub-alpine scrub zone. A well worn trail provides access thru this to the Rakeahua river where we encountered Rakiura's famous muddy tracks. From here we had lunch at Rakeahua Hut and then on to Fred's Camp Hut making use of a low tide to speed up travel along the shoreline.
I was lucky to be on this Auckland Tramping Club trip after a participant had to pull out. Feel free tp contact me if you have any questions regarding the trip.