Report by Kate Bowmar
Trip dates: 31st July and 1st August 2021.
We had 10 members meet in Tekapo on Saturday morning. With five Toyota 80 Series trucks there was a lot of accessory envy going on!
We managed to get to Lilybank Station in 40 minutes along past the Roundhill ski field. There was no snow on the ground, and no frost. Turning right up to Macaulay Hut along the deer fence we had the first incident; Paul in the Jeep got a flat tyre. He had lots of helpers to help change the tyre (it may have been the bribery of home baked chocolate chip cookies). He could have turned around then and there, but Paul decided to carry on even though he now didn’t have a spare.
We stopped for a quick look at the natural spring that comes out of the rocks on the way up the valley. When we got closer to the hut everyone was looking for the smoothest track up the valley, but every way up was very bumpy. The passengers in the two short wheel bases were feeling a little car sick!
We arrived at the hut about 1pm and all made lunch. It was sunny, warm, and the hut was empty. Those of us who had chosen to stay in Tekapo were regretting that decision and Dave, Bert, Vaughan and Matt were almost gloating.
So with heavy hearts six trucks left them there and about 20 minutes down the valley we saw a bunch of trucks coming up. There were about eight trucks in total, all full with a least 4 people in each truck… 32 people in total. They were Lincoln Uni student heading to the hut to stay for two nights. Now who was gloating? We had very big smiles on our faces.
Keith and Paul decided to head south back home, while Hayden, Mark, Lynden and myself and our partners decided to have a steak meal in town before meeting to do it all again the next day.
On Sunday a new member, Slim and his wife Janina with a Toyota 79 Series, along with Hayden, Mark, Lynden and I met in Tekapo for the next day of driving. My Mitsubishi Pajero looked like a dwarf in the land of giants.
We had arranged with the 4 trucks from Macaulay to meet at 10.30am at Lilybank Station and head 25km up the valley to the Red Stag hut. The biggest surprise was the changes that recent flooding and slips had made to the valley. In the past 10 years I have been going up the valley I have never seen the Godley River, let alone crossed it. Now the river flows over the 4wd track and you have to cross it numerous times. The advantage of having five 80 Series trucks on the trip is nominating one to be leader. Thanks Hayden. One of the first puddles of water we came across was so deep it went over the bonnet of the Pajero and up the to the windscreen. After that, Donald attached the strop to the tow hook and had it ready to attach it to a 80 Series in front just in case we needed a tow.
After about 2.5 hours of bouncing (and more bouncing) we made it to the Red Stag Hut. This valley was the complete opposite to the Macaulay Valley. The wind chill felt like -6 degrees and it started spitting with rain. Even the merino clothing and beanies came out. Mark was hoping to go to the melt lake but I made a trip decision that the Red Stag hut was our turn around point.
The way out was a bit quicker and we were back in Tekapo by 5pm. It was a great trip with a good turnout, with 10 trucks on Saturday and 9 on Sunday.