17 February 2015

Alpine Horse Safaris - Part Three - Mount White Station to Waitohi Downs

Leaving Mt White Station in good weather we wound up to a terrace on the true right of the Esk and proceeded up the valley. We passed the grave of Raymond Marshall one of the early runholders who left the Station after twenty years only to find leaving the high country too much. To our right the Puketeraki Range was snow covered but melting as we rode up-valley.   The Esk was much more attractive than I'd thought it might be.
Riding up the Esk Valley
Cattle Creek Hut
The terraces took us through beech forest, manuka  and tussock country and we lunched at the interestingly named Nigger Hut. From here we crossed the Esk and continued up the Eastern branch to the interesting and historical Cattle Creek Hut in a little clearing - constructed by Lawrie's father from beech logs. It was a comfortable hut with a good supply of firewood and handy water. As usual, first a brew!

Boiling the Billy at Cattle Creek


The following day dawned fine with the prospect of a great day. We wound up the remains of Cattle Creek to the Ashley Head Saddle on the Puketeraki Range - to traverse northwards through shingle and tussock and up over Black Rock for a couple of hours before descending steeply towards the Mt Whitnow Station. It was one of the highlights of the trip, striding atop horses along the top of the "Pukety" Range for a couple of hours - like princes (yes ladies, honorary Princes).

Climbing up the Puketeraki Range

Descending the "Pukety" Range to Mt Whitnow Station

Lawrie's Sidekick, Corrina and her Horse



Our last night out was at Mt Whitnow and next morning we rode north towards the Hurunui River, down its true right banks to Waitohi Downs, Lawrie's Base and farm.


Ginga Greets the Hurunui River - Nearly Home






At the farm we cleaned up and hosed the horses down - "home and hosed" - their mates came down from adjacent paddocks and they all greeted one another over the fence. After a fine (what else from Jenny) meal and a good rest we left for Christchurch and our respective homes. The journey had been a challenging one but the back country splendour, horses, company and friendships (we were a happy group) made it all worthwhile. If, as Lawrie would put it, you are a "tough bastard" I'd recommend the Tekapo Main Divide Expedition thoroughly. Go to Alpine Horse Safaris to find out more including shorter treks in North Canterbury where you don't have to be quite so tough - nor a bastard.