Mt Maitland (left) and Pakeke Peak (far right) from Gunsight Pass

Finally, a trip that goes to plan. It’s been a while (May 2019).

“There are a few cracker descriptions floating around on the internet”

“We’ll leave the dregs of uni at 6pm sharp on Friday evening, then drive 3.5hrs up to the Temple Conservation Campsite.”

The Exped Gemini II is a fairly light (~2.4kg), apparently robust tent that sleeps two (very long) people. It has a green fly and an orange canopy and pegs (although you can get new pegs in a different colour if you want). Unfortunately the green is not particularly photogenic, and merges into the landscape, so if you’re after aesthetic camp photos keep looking. It has two doors and big vestibules, lots of storage pockets and is generally very spacious. The pole set up is numbered so you cannot screw it up provided you can count to four, however you cannot set the tent up with the fly on when it is pouring with rain which is a serious disadvantage. I now have a footprint too, which is rather niggly to use with the entire tent (rather than just the fly, which it clips into), and does take a while to get good at setting up effectively.

“On Saturday bounce up the North Temple and ascend up to Gunsight Pass via a bit of a gut.”

Peraxilla tetrapetala. Red Mistletoe. Pikirangi. Pirirangi. Pikiraki. Pirita. Roeroe. Rorerore. Pirinoa. New Zealand has a number of incredibly cool and rare mistletoes, and P. tetrapetala is one of them. The flowers are bright red, and typically pollinated by birds. Flowers remain closed until a bird comes and tweaks the tip with its beak, upon which the flower springs open, showering the birds face with pollen. This is termed ‘explosive flowering’. Unfortunately possums find them absolutely delicious, and they are classified as At Risk — Declining.

We deliberate briefly and decide to cautiously attempt the pass. We follow the stream up, then the small branch that leads up to the left and Gunsight Pass. Gunsight Pass is not actually that bad. There is a lot of loose rock, some horrendously deep snow patches which I volunteer to lead the way through, and the porridge near the top of the pass which is probably some of the steepest terrain of the trip, consisting of gravel and small rocks which you sink and slide into; imagining that you are walking up a mound of extremely cold porridge is a surprisingly apt analogy. The pass would be bad if avalanche risk was high or if there was any rockfall happening, neither of which was the case. Helmets are definitely still a good idea, and caution is advised to avoid knocking loose rocks onto those below you.

The aforementioned porridge slope

“Then scream with joy as we supposedly slide down a scree slope into South Temple.”

Everyone “screaming with joy” on the descent into the South Temple

“Can either camp in the head of the South Temple or crank up the fire box at South Temple Hut.”

No one goes hungry tonight. Not even Kendall, who we discover, eats enough for two people her size, and was holding back at lunch time. Dinner is followed by some classic banter until eventually people crawl into their sleeping bags and fall asleep.

“Australians are the best kind of New Zealanders aren’t they?” — Luca

Questionable at best.

“[Kerry] he’s a cracker lad. Cracker” — Luca

Less questionable.

Heading down Temple Stream South Branch

“On Sunday it will be a relatively straightforward plod back down South Temple back to the car.”

A very straightforward plod.
The Barrier Range with Ohau Forest below

“If people are more enthusiastic, and conditions allow it may be feasible to do an energetic side trip.”

We head off up one of the ski pistes, to the top of one of the lifts, then straight up onto the ridge. The views are spectacular, and there is a lengthy photo break before we finally get moving again and head towards our goal; Mt Sutton (2007 m). We have a second photo break on a small peak where there is some snow and an obligatory fight ensues, then we get back to the task at hand, climbing up an easy ridge to emerge onto a huge plateau that leads us to the summit of Mt Sutton. There is a short break, we admire Dumb-bell Lake and the small partially frozen tarn just above it, then head down to the car via two variations of the direct route. Kerry et al. head right to some bluffs, then down somewhat stable slopes, while I head down some loose scree slopes which I had been eyeing on the way up. We arrive on the road at almost the same time, pack the car, and hit the road for Dunedin.

Approaching Mt Sutton