Favourite places


My claim that the Rob Roy Glacier walk in the Matukituki Valley is one of the top 10 day walks in the country, and therefore the world, may be subjective but was reinforced on our last expeditionsix weeks ago.

Previous trips had been in February, January and June. It was even better in November with more snow on the mountain tops and the river full with the early summer thaw.

We also got a reminder of the power of nature – the story boards which used to greet trampers just above the bush line have gone. All that remains is one post, everything else is buried under huge rocks which must have been brought down by an avalanche.

The track had been upgraded since our last visit. My farmer and I both thought it was steeper. We’re blaming an increase in the power of gravity due to climate change which is a kinder explanation than declining fitness.

Kea spotted – no passport


At the top of the Rob Roy glacier walk we met a kea.

It had a red band around it’s left leg, but it didn’t have a passport.

kea hp

We also spotted a family of mice.

We were just above the bushline, there was snow on the ground and wondered what they live on and why they live there.

Update: Rob’s got a much better photo of a kea  at the same spot.

The best day walk in the world


The road from Wanaka travels up the side of the lake, past Glendhu Bay then past Treble Cone, Cattle Flat Station and on to Aspiring Station, into the West Matukituki Valley to the end of the road at Raspberry Hut.

After a fifteen minute amble along the side of the river we came to a swing bridge across the river and in to the bush to start the Rob Roy Glacier walk.

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After a  good hour’s climb on a clearly marked track we came out of the bushline and less than 10 minutes later we reached the end of the track.

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One of the signs at the top has an extract from a book written by Maud Moreland who did the walk in 1908.

We were now at the entrance of a gorge that looked as if the mountains had been cleft by some terrific force: on one side they rose black and precipitous with trees clinging wherever they could find a little soil but generally they were sheer walls of rock. On our side the mountains were clothed to within a few hundred feet of the top with dense bush.

Leaving the horses tied below we began a toilsome ascent through a belt of tutu – a stout herb growing as high as our shoulders. This bit was very steep, followed by a belt of fern, then across screeds of slate, shale and faces of bare rock with only cracks for footholds when we clung by our fingertips.

The heat grew greater every moment and the glare from the rocks scorched us and made us terribly thirsty as we worked our way from gully to gully.

After a tedious climb we at last saw the head of the gorge – a wonderful sight on which not many eyes have gazed. It is closed by a semi circle of cliffs, precipitous and black. And wedged as it were between three mountain peaks lies an enormous glacier. Not a long river of ice, but a mighty mass of ice, breaking off sharp at the top of the stupendous peaks.

How much easier it was for us today, on a well formed track and not encumbered by the clothes a young woman would have had to wear in 1908.

This is the fifth time I’ve done the walk, although the first time in winter. Each time I’m awe struck by the beauty from the river flats, through the bush to the view of the glacier.

A friend reckons it’s the best day walk in the county.

In my – biased and parochial opinion – I agree and that puts it up with the best day walks in the world.

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