Mt. Fishtail for New Years Eve

What better way to see off the year with a good tramp to a remote hut on the side of a mountain? This was the plan at least. The weather round here hasn’t been ideal for tramping recently as the cloud base has been relatively low and the odd driech day. This also resulted in my parents being stuck up here unable to fly back down to Wanaka but its good to spend some extra time with them and go out flying round the Abel Tasman where the weather has been better.

Flying Abel Tasman

As we wanted to be in the Fishtail Hut  for new years eve we knew we had to be there early to get a bunk as it only has 4 and there was 4 of us in the group as it was. So the plan was to drive over to the north bank of Wairau River which is where we would drive a short distance up the Pine Valley, park the car, and then make the short 40min tramp to the Pine Valley Hut. We would stay here for the first night so that we could hit the trail early and summit in plenty of time.

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The drive up Pine Valley. The sky moving above us looking pretty menacing.

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Ally, Cherie and Timo cooking up grub at the first hut.

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Ally reading the Hut book

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The 8 bunk hut, nice and cosy playing cards.

Meet a really nice family from Fairbanks, Alaska in the hut. The day before they had stayed in the Fishtail hut with their 5 and 6 year old boys who were full of energy and quite funny. They had some really interesting stories of hunting moose and some perpetual motion machine their friends used to catch salmon. Taught the one of the lads some essential dance moves he might need later in life including the reverse lawn mower. They also told us about some glow worms they had seen the night before so we all went out looking for them.

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This may look light a photo of dirt however there are a few glow worms in there if you look closely.

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The Pine Valley Hut

The next morning we were up pretty early cooking up some porridge and saying goodbye to our Alaskan friends. We managed to leave at the leisurely time of 9am and heading 30min along the trail to a river crossing before it was straight up the ridge for the rest of the morning.

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The track is mostly in thick bush so you very rarely get to see any views until you are pretty close to the top. We had seen a few notes in the DOC books about issues with wasps on the way up which we didn’t think to much of however some of the dying beach trees were totally covered in them. Definitely have to watch where your putting your hands scrambling up.

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The weather starting to clear, along with the bush, to provide the first proper view of Mt. Fishtail. (1641m)

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Ally chilling on top of the ridge.

The last part of the trail opens up and its a short traverse across a scree field where the Fishtail hut is perched neatly on a rocky bluff. We arrived at 12 so had made it up in 3 hours which was pretty fast.

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The Fishtail Hut.

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After a quick cup of tea and a setting things up in the hut Timo, Ally and I headed off to the summit.

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A pretty mellow hike up the North side of the peak.

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Looking out over the Wairau Valley.

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Ally up top

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Looking across the Richmond Range

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Ally and Timo sharing some dried mango which I missed out on….

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Way back down to the hut

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Looking down at the rain moving across the valley.

When we arrived back at the hut 2 others had arrived and informed us that 4 others were on their way up. 10 people in a 4 bunk hut, it was going to be a cosy night. In the end 4 folk put tents up outside and 2 of us slept on the floor of the hut. Ended up been pretty comfy but the tents sounded like they were going to get blown away. The hut wasn’t far from it either!

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Cherie proud of her swis army knife

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Another epic view

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Sunset

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Cherie sneaking a peek out the hut.

We had planned to get out of bed at 4am and summit again intime for sunrise however there was a severe risk of getting blown off the top and there wasn’t going to be much of a view anyway. The box of wine may have played a slight influence on this decision also.

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Timo getting ready for the quick decent down the hill.

We eventually got out of bed, cooked up some more porridge in the previous nights wine vassels, and set off back down. We were back at the car by 1pm. It was a really good way to spend New Years and I can’t wait to get back out again!

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