Nelson Lakes double figure eight with a reverse twist
January 2008. A seven day epic up and over Lake Angelus from Speargrass Hut, then up the Sabine River, over Waiau Pass, Lake Thompson, Thompson Pass, down the D'Urville, back to Speargrass Hut and then out over Robert Ridge. Two days of not seeing another soul. Many days of beech forest, some of it humming with wasps.
Having tramped a lot on the main range, we thought we'd try the more northern end of South Island. We were looking for some back-country tamping, and had heard about Waiau Pass. Because we wanted a loop, we devised a trip that took in Lake Angelus, Waiau Pass, Thompson Pass and eventually Lake Angelus again, crossing as a figure eight at both Speargrass Hut and Sabine Hut.
Day 1. Robert Carpark to Speargrass Hut 6.5km Down 100m, up 300m (started in the afternoon - easy stroll)
Day 2. Speargrass Hut to Sabine Hut via Lake Angelus 11.6km Up 800m down 1300m (beautiful views from the flanks of Mt Cedric, killer descent to Sabine Hut)
Day 3. Sabine Hut to Blue Lake Hut via West Branch of Sabine River 21.1km Up 700m (heavens opened whilst walking up to Blue Lake Hut - whole of Mahanga Range became a sheet of water)
Day 4. Blue Lake Hut to Lake Thompson via Waiau Pass 8.8km Up 300m Down 100m Up 500m Down 500m Up 350m (Well, it's alpine! Despite dark clouds in the morning, was a gorgeous day)
Day 5. Lake Thompson to Morgan Hut via Thompson Pass and Upper D'Urville River 21km Up 100m Down 1350m (gorgeous alpine route over the Pass though tricky getting onto the track around the upper D'Urville)
Day 6. Morgan Hut to Speargrass Hut via Sabine Hut 24km Up 800m Down 100m (extra long day. The route from D'Urville to Sabine River is not always there. High reaches of the Sabine-Speargrass track seemed to go on for ever)
Day 7. Speargrass Hut to Robert Carpark via Robert Ridge 15km Up 700m Down 900m (beautiful walk over Robert Ridge though sometimes a big claggy).
In total: 7 days, 107km, up 4550m, Down 4350 (so due to rounding, you end up 200m higher than you began!)
John Saunders Very impressive - beautiful tramping country. I got over the Waiau Pass, but couldn't see a bloody thing for two days over the Thompson Pass- Three Tarns Pass route, so I had to bail out through St James Station. I always regretted that decision.
13 October 2012