Words: Dave Mitchell Photos: Dave Mitchell & Ditte van der Meulen
Early March is a great time of year to be holidaying. You are less likely to encounter tourism overload, aka people pollution. Yes it was less busy everywhere and the weather had run out of changes of clothes and settled into a warm slumber in a comfortable chair. Behind the sprawling metropolis of Hawea township Nook Road heads to the start of the one and only Grandview Mountain Track. The name says it all.
Ditte climbs through the kanuka
An initial piece of singletrack meanders through elephant grass to join a rough and ready farm 4WD track and a minefield of black Angus elephant poo to dodge. Thankfully the climbing starts gradually so the body and soul can warm to the occasion. Multiple crossings of Grandview Creek are the order of the day.
Single track and Breast Peak shadows
As the track finally leaves the creek the going gets gnarly and the gnarly gets going or gives up in disgust. The double track ends abruptly at the 820-meter contour where purpose built bench singletrack, constructed by some clever responsible campers with a fun little digger, ensues. Stunning views present themselves across the steel blue mirror of Lake Hawea and these contrast with the shaded rugged rocktors, schist faces and gullies of Breast Peak. For us the scene was just lighting up and catching the early morning rays in a large and completely imaginary AGEE jar.
Mid climb, Hawea township in the background
An angry spaniard mob nearing Grandview mountain
The singletrack zig zags its way up the snow grass and spaniard covered slope joining a steep 4WD track that continues up onto the ridge top just below Grandview Mountain. Ditte and I roamed along the undulating tops doing a full 180 degree circuit of the Grandview Creek catchment rim, before striking north towards Breast Peak and beyond. But what was that shepherd hallucinating about when he named that bump in the ridge line. I'm sure the dogs weren’t impressed.
To the ridge top
This certainly was not a flat line on the ECG with more ups and downs than a U-Boat. We collected over 850 meters of ascending browny points along the way to and from the relatively newly minted Pakituhi Hut, perched beside the ever evolving Te Araroa Trail. The eight bunk hut is hidden in a short gully just up from the 4WD track. It’s sheltered with great views across the Lindis tiger country.
TA plummet above Lake Hawea
It's a sign
Out of pure curiosity we headed up the track behind the hut to the ridge top overlooking Lake Hawea. This is where the TA route plummets over 1000-meters to the lake edge in little more than two kilometres through a Hawea Station easement. An official looking sign on the boundary fence asks vehicles to drive slowly.
The tops track goes on forever
We headed back the way we had come, making a brief deviation to the very top of Grandview Mountain in anticipation of the forthcoming unrelenting downhill from this 1400-meter loft. It's pretty fast and wild in places and in retrospect makes the climb up feel a bit slow-mo-ish, no thanks to gravity and middle age spread.
Singletrack to Grandview Mountain
Exit the Grandview top
The temperature rose remarkably as we headed down from the cool but surprisingly windless tops to the bottom-feeders and a baking hot valley floor. It was time to re-hydrate, pack up and head back to base camp Wanaka, after a mere 47kms and 1850-meters of up. There is another hut a further 14kms along the ridge, but that was a bridge too far and will have to wait for another day or maybe it would make a good overnighter trip while the sun shines? Over and out. Next stop Wanaka Town.