Mavora Lakes and Walter Peak Station: Feb 4-6, 2023
Joint report from Kerri and Mike (Mavora and Forks Hut) and Leigh (Walter Peak)
Waitangi weekend trip to Mavora Lakes, Saturday Feb 4th, meeting at Five Rivers at 9am.
Dave Trip Leader in his trusty Landcruiser, Paul in his Surf, Leigh with Shaune, Melanie, and Mitchell in their shiny new Ford Raptor, Ray in his capable Mitsy Pajero and us (Kerri and Michael) in Tina Turner the Land Cruiser 76.
A cruisy start to the day we ventured to Mossburn for a last stop fuel up and toilet break. Keith and his passengers Susan and Jude, with a head start were waiting for us at the Mavora Lakes Campsite and the start of the track. Keith’s passengers got a little antsy waiting for the group to arrive so started to tackle the track by foot.
With the gate unlocked and a quick chat to the folks trying to sneak in behind us we made our way along the beach track to Careys Hut. Track was dry and made for an easy drive into the hut for a lovely lunch by the lake. From there we started to make our way to Boundary Hut. The normally paint scouring matagouri had had a nice wee trim up and made for a more delightful trip and less painful drive along the hill side. Now some might ask why you would drive the ruts as opposed to the slightly easier track to the side, but there were NO Pavement Princesses in this group so we all successfully navigated the deep ruts leading to Boundary Hut. Michael was stoked after several attempts over the years to finally get through the ruts! Silly leaf hangers!
Arriving at Boundary Hut around 2pm and so much of the day left, Keith made his way home, Leigh and her passengers decided to hang out at the hut and enjoy a swim in the Mavora River. Dave, Paul, Ray and us decided to go on a little side mission to Forks Hut. We have been turned around on a previous trip by a locked gate so we sent Dave a head to check the gate before we joined him on the bumpiest track ever!
We had joked about having heard the track was bumpy but nothing could have prepared us for the 1.5 hour drive, of being tossed around. Forks Hut was stunning at the end of a beautiful valley, definitely worth doing once. Since Dave was on dinner duty he raced ahead on the way back to camp, unfortunately his spare tyre gear bag didn’t survive the bumpy ride.
The evening at camp was lovely, Dave’s stew was on point as always, sandfly factor was low, and the predicted 100k winds didn’t eventuate.
Sunday started with a bit of drizzle, Ray, Paul and Michael packed the trucks and left the others to sleep. We headed back along the main track to the campground and to the hot coffee waiting in Mossburn.
After a very windy night the only two vehicles left – Dave followed by Leigh and Shaune, with passengers Melanie and Michelle – headed off towards Walter Peak station turning off Mavora Lakes Road onto Mt Nicholas Station Road in cloudy conditions. The next few hours were a frustrating trip having driven the road before more than a decade ago, and knowing what a beautiful big wide valley and stunning views the crew was missing out on. Thankfully there were several sites of interest to explore, including the cute and nicely restored Bullock Creek Hut.
The opportunity to re-check the weather forecast meant hopes weren’t high for camping at our destination, the DoC campsite at Walter Peak, but we all agreed to plough on. After progressively losing elevation while mostly following the Von Loop River, we emerged finally at Lake Wakatipu in mild drizzle. The road here hooks right and passes the turn off to Mt Nicholas Station on the lakefront, ending at the tourist-village part of Walter Peak Station.
Sadly, the restaurant lunch service was just finishing so our hopes of a cuppa and a bite to eat were dashed. Dave decided to have a crack at driving to the campsite, only to encounter a locked gate. A final check of the weather forecast showed that even if we’d walked the last few hundred meters with our tents in what was now heavy-ish drizzle, it would have been another windy night and also quite a damp one. Michelle made a few phone calls and exited via the Earnslaw back to Queenstown, saving her the long drive back. Not a bad deal at $50 one-way. The rest of us then commenced the long drive home and were rewarded with clearing weather as we headed inland – so much so, it was tempting to stop and get the camera out every few miles. Lunch stop was the picturesque Mt Nicholas Station homestead, rebuilt in part from the remains of a fire many years ago. Pushing on, Dave led us off meandering from the main road to check out numerous – mostly working – farm huts. Again, photo opportunities abounded.
All driving from Mavora Lakes Rd to Walter Peak can be done in a regular car. And while it’s an easy metal road drive, it’s a long one, with Google Maps showing it takes four hours to get back to Queenstown from the wharf. HIGHLY recommended when the skies are clear.