Haupiri - Lake Morgan - Cone Creek Circuit

15-17 Oct 2016

Leaving Chch at 0630 got us to Gloriavale community at 10.30. We drove through the site impressed by the number of new buildings and size of the village. Being nosey four of us walked into the large office to sign in and observe some of the inner workings of the place. Bill’s vehicle was big enough to take the five of us and rugged enough to take us to a grassy flat very close to O’Shanessy Creek where the steep Bryan O’Lyn track to the tops begins.

On a fine day we were down to one layer of clothing as we climbed the crude but well-marked track through dense Rata Kamahi forest. Dracophylum and mountain cedar trees gave an indication that we were approaching the bushline and a lunch stop. I was surprised to see little tree dracophylums growing amongst tussock. Another surprise was seeing three boys and one man from Gloriavale up for a day walk. They were hoping one day to go all the way to Lake Morgan. Asked if they would take their sisters up the Bryan O’Lyn track, they said, yes they were planning to. Their Bryan O’Lyn route wasn’t ours; they had made a different track, presumably better

A long ridge track and some sidling got us to Brian O’Lyn then on to O’Shanessy with some big slabs of rock and snow to negotiate. A spur leads down to the six-bunk Lake Morgan Hut and we were happy to reach it at 7:30pm. Macaroni and cheese made for a quick dinner then we were off to slumberland. That was the end of the good weather. We exited the hut before 0800 in drizzle and headed towards Lake Morgan. The stream from the lake was flowing fast with snow melt so we kept on its true right to avoid it, took some misty lake photos, headed east up to the ridge then down a spur that runs roughly east-west. The basin below point 1368 had some useful snow as we headed to the branch of Cone Creek that runs roughly north, south. Scrub and the stream slowed us down, then at a clear patch where the two stream branches meet we picked up markers directing us down a narrow rocky track through forest. A steep gravel gully leads to the hut and we became spread out in an effort not to send rocks onto anyone ahead of us. We made Cone Creek Hut by 2pm and had a relaxing, dry afternoon.

Day three dawned drizzly for the walk down a rugged Cone Creek track. We had Merv to thank for track work he’d done in 2015. The path was well marked and there was only one bit where we used a rope to haul a pack up a steep slope where the track exits the creek-bed. The drizzle graduated to nearly steady rain so lunch was brief so we didn’t cool off too drastically. It took us four hours to reach the Haupiri River then another two to reach the car. A long section of 4WD track was more of a muddy river, more of a tractor track than a vehicle track. The rain conveniently stopped as we reached Bill’s vehicle so we could change to street clothes. At Gloriavale we checked out and drove away to a warm dry Canterbury. Our congenial band was:

Bill Templeton, Vesna Mojsilovic, Aarn Tate, Christine Leaver and Kerry Moore. (KM)