Thesis Peak, Indiretissima

29-30 January 2022

Merv had this on the program and talked of an attractive campsite and pleasant travel along ridgelines. We were sold. Eventually conditions were ripe for the picking. The proposed route showed a deviation to bag two minor summits en route. That was the way they’d gone last time, so I accepted that these things will happen on club trips.

We drove to the road-end up the Harper Valley, though not as far as some of us would have preferred but Merv explained it was club policy not to oil the farmer’s palm with 4WD track charges. Considering the track was probably financed by subsidies back in the day, this would make it more galling.

We set off on a hot morning which had me dousing my head, then rushing to catch up. Others were carrying their own water supply so didn’t need to stop. We crossed the Avoca a little way up from where it joins the Harper and bee-lined for Centre Creek, stopping for lunch shortly before reaching the creek.

It was accessed via an overgrown 4WD track. The others had gone ahead but Frank waited for me at the turn-off. We scratched our way through matagouri and other low scrub to reach Centre Creek and met up with the rest of the team. Centre Creek was not fast travel, with a choice between beech forest regen or tutu-clad banks hiding boulders. We rested at an idyllic little clearing then carried on, passing hunters’ campsites that looked ideal.

Then it was time to find our campsite but not before Merv refuelled with a bit of magnesium for cramps. We carried on and located several flat spots on mossy areas close to the junction of the stream with the 33m waterfall and the eastern tributary. Wind was minimal so we had a pleasant evening and early bedtime for a wake-up call of 6.30am.

In the morning we headed north, passing the area where Merv and co. had camped on their trip 20 years before. We crossed the stream and I deviated to travel with more breeze up the fringe of scree in low scrub, while others followed Frank up through tussock. Both routes took the same amount of time. Then we snacked at a big rock and waited for stragglers to join us.

We rounded an attractive spur and lingered downstream of the 18m waterfall for drinks and to replenish water bottles. The party then travelled to view the turquoise-hued tarn in the upper basin (200m north of point 1625) though Frank waited for us at the edge of the tussock as he didn’t see the point of going for a look at a tarn we could see in the upcoming ascent. There were copious flat areas in the tussock for anyone wanting to camp further up the valley e.g. for climbing Packard Peak.

We discussed routes from the tarn to the summit ridge and decided a direct ascent to the enticing flat ridgeline north-east of point 1972 would be the go, so we angled across scree to successive leads of tussock, rounded a corner, sidling into the final tussock lead and gained the ridge, then soon after, our first summit.

We continued down the chossy ridge to a saddle, then pondered on the best way from there to follow the ridgeline. The way looked nasty and precipitous with foreshortening but proved to be a doddle with hands in pockets. At point 2021, we stopped for lunch, then dropped down and scrambled up finally to our objective of Thesis Peak. From here I was eyeballing a direct route to the valley floor. There was a bit of discussion on the best way. The ridgeline to a scree purporting to be good going looked nasty. It might be possible to drop down the western spur a little and then descend to this scree heading down to the Avoca, south of the peak but the scree leading NW looked as though it ran all the way to the valley floor. Merv’s recollections were a little hazy, so we choose the more northern option.

Initially it was good going with runs of finer argillite but we had to deviate where there was a chokepoint with possible bluffs. Most folks dropped down directly while Frank and I briefly explored to our right onto a small unpleasant spur, then dropped down to re-join the main scree with the others. At the 1500m contour the scree became larger chunks, so I moseyed over to the true right where I could see clayey terrain with small beech trees growing on it.

This was faster, more pleasant travel. We waited to regroup in tussocks and then headed down to the attractive park-like, more open beech forest, pushed through that and emerged on the flanks where a yazoo stream formed, where we could slake our thirst. It was now 4pm and we had 20km of mainly 4WD track to plod along. At 4km an hour it would take us 5 hours but people were saying we’ll be out before it gets dark. Unfortunately two of us had work the next morning. One of them was me.

We trudged down and crossed Basins Creek but avoided going up to the hut where the 4WD track continues down-valley. Frank goaded us to take a shortcut though the matagouri but no one was keen so he turned and led us down the creek to the main river. However, I left the main valley to see how far away the 4WD track was and indeed it was 200m west of where we were. Everyone but Frank had followed my deviation so Frank got ahead and we didn’t see him until we reached the road-end.

The route march continued down to the Avoca/Harper junction and south of Corner Creek we began heading towards a vegetated bluff where the 4WD track and Te Araroa trail run. We got on to the trail then lost it until I recognised where the track had crumbled away from a fence-line, though others had spotted the markers well before that. Down the Harper Valley we continued, gaining a 4WD track in the dusk but leaving our head torches unlit to assist in peripheral visibility.

Frank’s torches lit up our destination. I put my headtorch on to give him some indication of how far away we were and at 10pm we arrived at the car for a drive home that had us in bed around 1am with no dinner. The emails were appreciative of the trip but there were a few blisters among the stoic. I still have no idea why Sven Brabyn et al. chose to climb Thesis Peak indiretissima on that trip and why we had to replicate this on ours.

We were: Merv Meredith, Peter Umbers, Sue Piercey, Helen Binnie, Frank King and Honora Renwick. (HR)

Centre Creek – Thesis Peak (according to Merv)

This two-day round-trip was a repeat of a trip the club did in early April 2000. I had tried to schedule a repeat since but the weather didn’t cooperate. This time there was no doubt about the weather, except for a possible nor-wester.

Back in 2000 we went up Centre Creek to camp at about 1150m, then on day two, continued up and around to visit the big tarn below Packard Peak. We sidled left up the big scree to gain the range at point 1972m, along the range to Thesis for lunch and then down the fine scree just south of Thesis to the Avoca. It’s interesting to note how different the times were for people who were 22 years younger in 2000.


There were six of us, so the five from Christchurch met Helen at the top of the Zig Zag Rd and travelled on in convoy. Walking from the Glenthorne locked gate at 10am on what is now part of the Te Araroha Trail, we skirted outside the farm fences, closer to the river. Once in the Avoca and having crossed to the true left, we stopped for lunch, still some distance short of Centre Creek. Starting up the creek at 1.45pm was pleasant, although hot and often saw us floundering through tall ground cover. By 6pm we’d reached a good spot that offered three good tent sites, easy access to the stream and a nice kitchen spot. So, flies were pitched and we were all set up for a lovely evening.


Up early on another near perfect day, we were away by 8am, climbing easily to the east of the stream, right up to the big tarn below 2066m Packard Peak by 9.30am, for a look. Then came a big sidle up the large rock and scree face, taking us up to point 1972m on the range at 11am. Travel south, along the range has its ups and downs—down to 1900m then up to 2021m for lunch at 12.15pm. Then a dip and up again to 2042m Thesis at 1.45pm

Now it gets embarrassing. I was looking forward to the high-speed scree run down, that starts a little south of Thesis. All I had to do was look on the map to remind me but inexplicably I took off down the scree almost directly from Thesis. It wasn’t too far down when the scree run became a walk and it was obvious what I had done. Too late! And what a disappointment. We could only plod on down, reaching the Avoca about 4.30pm. The lapse probably added an hour to the day.

It was then a long walk back down the river. A drink-stop at 7pm beside a Centre Creek run-out was very welcome. Frank had taken off and got back to the vehicles before dark. We continued back around the loop as it got darker. When we got to a farm gate in the dark, it was too tempting to climb it and take the straight route directly back to the locked gate, at 10.05pm.

Sorry about missing out on the ‘hour glass’ scree run people. That scree will have to stay a great memory for me. We were: Helen Binnie, Honora Renwick. Frank King, Merv Meredith (leader), Sue Piercey and Peter Umbers. (MM)