Hollyford Valley – cool walk

Headed to the Hollyford valley and a place called Gunn’s Camp. It’s in the upper Hollyford and has a number of rustic and rusty relics of days gone by. No power , no phones only add to the charm of this special place. We will leave the rig here when we chopper to Martins bay ( from Milford ) and walk back out up the Hollyford track.

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Had an afternoon to explore the places close to Gunn’s – including the Hollyford track start ( finish for us) a beautiful clear River popular with hunters as they can jetboat down to lake McKarrow and Lake Alabaster. ( requires a portage of the jetboat – so only very serious locals with battered boats need apply )

A short 20 minute walk takes you up to this majestic waterfall – Humboldt.

Winter arrives

The forecast southerly rolled through and as predicted it gave the first major dump of snow heralding the beginning of winter. Had our diesel heater running thru the rainy night . I knew that the rain was going to be snow at higher altitudes and we were not to be disappointed . The road was closed at dawn but reopened to traffic with chains from about 10. 30 am. We got very lucky and managed to get onto the Hollyford Valley Guided walk coach that had just dropped off a bunch of walkers into the Hollyford but still needed to take some staff over to Milford.

Close to the Milford tunnel we started to have traction problems and the driver had us out helping him in the tricky job of fitting awkward duel rear chains. We waited for quite some time due to a bus and some cars that were blocking the road on the Milford side.

The heavily snow laden beech trees and misty snow clad slopes were in huge contrast to the sights we saw only 24 hours previously. We rumbled down the 10% gradient descent before finally removing the chains and speeding on down to the Milford Sounds base for Fiordland Helicopters. We were late and the 2 choppers and pilots were ready to go

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View of the Milford sound Portal of the Homer tunnelA clearance of the low cloud and a break in the snow saw us take the direct route – straight over the top of the peaks and directly to Martins Bay. Only a short but magnificent flight with stunning views of Milford then all the brand new snow plastered all over the tops. Landed at the Martins Bay lodge – the place that the guided ” rich ” Hollyford walkers stay in before being helicoptered back to Milford. Our flight was a cheaper ” back flight ” as they are really only there to ferry these fee paying walkers out – we are merely a little icing on the cake.

Our destination was the DOC. hut at the river mouth of the Hollyford – took us about 1.5 hours . Stunning location but bitterly cold southerlies have seen us wearing multiple layers. The hut had only 5 other folk – plenty of room and nice and quiet.

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IMG_1275.JPGMartins Bay hut – our base for 3 nights

we had a walk to have a look at the coastline heading up towards Big Bay and a seal rockery. Packed some snacks and my fishing rod and camera and headed off in cool but fine weather . The savage winds had subsided but still from the south so very cool.

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IMG_1284.JPGPicked up a jetboat from Martins Bay – all the way up to Lake Alabaster. This avoids the so called ” Demons Trail ” a hard walk that has some 3 wire bridges that Barb was not keen to tackle ( yet 😉) it was a fine and sunny day without the strong winds that we had seen so we decided to make a push to walk the 20 Kms out to Gunn’s camp to beat the rain forecast for Friday.

Was a spectacular walk made very pretty due to the recent snow dump on the tops. Arrived back al the 5 th at about 4 pm – footsore but happy with what we had seen and done.

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3 comments

  1. Have been waiting expectantly for this update. Your photos are fantastic as usual and your trip sounds amazing. Would love to see Milford in the snow. Look forward to catching up with you both.

    • Been a great trip Jill – we start heading nth today from TeAnau – will stop at Tekapo tonight and hope to do some star gazing at the Mt John observatory. Will be coming thru AKL by about 30 th -hope to catch up then

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