Lake Nerine – Rockburn – North Col

12 -15 March 2011

This is Hannah Keith’s account of the Lake Nerine trip which she did as a practice trip for her Duke of Edinburgh Silver award.

Day one: We all got up after having spent a night at the Glenorchy Lodge and made our way to the Routeburn Shelter where we left our cars and started the tramp. We walked on the Routeburn track for about 15 – 20 minutes before we reached the Sugarloaf track turn off. We then climbed up a very steep track up to the top of the pass. At the top of the pass we had lunch and there were some amazing views of Pluto and Mt Earnslaw. We then had a very steep descent on the other side of the pass and at the bottom we walked by the river on the track that would lead us to Theatre Flat, our campsite for the night. When we got there we were all exhausted and our feet sore so we quickly found a good sheltered spot under some trees, cooked our dinner and when it got dark we all went to bed.

Day two: We woke up early—thanks to the paradise ducks—cooked our breakfast and got on our way to the next stop—Lake Nerine. We walked up to the top of the valley where we had lunch under a rock bivvy and then we climbed up the steep hill onto Park Pass. We then made our way up the ridge and sidled on a very steep slope around the rocky cliffs at the top of the mountain up a small valley, over a saddle and finally made it to Lake Nerine after some navigation troubles in the thick fog that rolled in during the afternoon. By the time we found a good campsite the weather had turned bad with rain and wind coming our way, all this after a warm sunny morning. We quickly made some dinner and retreated into our tents where we could stay warm. That night was long with the gusty wind and rain on the tent keeping me awake.

Day three: We awoke and got on our way early because it was cold, windy and the weather was expected to get worse. We walked over a small saddle by the lake and sidled around on a terrace to North Col. This was an interesting experience. We had to climb up and over North Col which then dropped down into the valley we were walking down and on the way up and over, the wind was really strong—possibly over 100kph. It was hard to keep upright but we all got over safely. We then walked down a very rocky face at the top of the valley passing the remains of winter snow, then struggled without much luck for an hour or so to find a sheltered place out of the wind and rain. In the end, we stopped behind a large boulder out of the wind and shivered terribly while trying to have lunch and keep warm. We moved on quickly and made our way down the valley, crossing the same river many times, following the cairns that led the way and sometimes walking through overgrown bush when we struggled to find cairns. Eventually, we reached the flats in the north branch of the Routeburn. By this time it was very wet and the rain continued non-stop. We all decided that instead of camping another night in the miserable weather we would walk the entire way out to the car-park where we started. So we walked for another hour till 7pm and stopped for some more food at the shelter near Routeburn Flats Hut. The Route Burn’s North Branch was a roaring torrent. For the last one and a half hours we walked out the Routeburn track in the dark with our headlamps on. We got to the car-park around 9pm and drove back to Glenorchy where we had a warm shower and bed at the camping ground.

Overall this was a very hard, but fun tramp to go on and it was a really good experience. We had bad weather on the last day which was a shame, but I managed to put lots of skills into practice, such as a lot of river crossing and navigating.

We were: Raymond Ford, Chris Leaver, Bill Hotter, Brad Willson, Karen Keith, Hannah Keith

(HK - Year 13, St Hildas College)