Inland Pack Track
Monday February 4th
Descending from Fox caves to the river
Dilemma Creek [aev]
We drove up to the Punakaiki DOC centre, where we left an "intention
notice" in the office and the car in the carpark. We then had pancakes
for breakfast before walking back towards the pub while trying to hitch
(we needed to go 12km north to the Fox river crossing). Joe was picked
up fairly quickly, while Adrienne and I were eventually picked up by a
laundry truck doing its twice-weekly round up the coast.
We followed the track up the northern bank of the river to Fox Caves,
where we had lunch. Joe and I went into the caves, which are described
as "safe" and an easy walk in, but which seemed pretty hairy to us,
clambering along narrow slippery ledges above deeply cut cracks.
(It didn't help that my torch batteries were almost flat, something I
didn't realise till much later.) We turned back after going maybe 20m in.
Joe thought he'd been there before, but it wasn't as he remembered at all,
so we don't know what was going on there.
I changed out of boots and into sandshoes
at this point. Instead of going back downriver to cross to the other
side we scrambled down a steep bank to the river, waded across, and
climbed up a small rockslide to the track on the other side. We stopped
there for a while, only to find when we set off that the signs on either
side of us said "danger, falling rocks". When we reached the junction
of the Fox and Dilemma rivers, Adrienne waited while Joe and I waded
up the Fox to the Ballroom, a huge overhang that would fit hundreds.
Then we went on up the Dilemma, wading calf-deep up wide flat riverbeds
running through lush rainforest. (The walk follows an old cart route,
used before the coastal road was built.)
Our campsite [aev]
We camped at a nice spot right at the junction of the Dilemma and Fossil
creek. There were annoying numbers of sandflies and an intermittent
drizzle, but we lit a fire (using the first twenty pages of my crappy
copy of The Last of the Wine
) and had a solid meal. My boots
were useful for keeping the sandflies off my feet. There was
a bit of rain overnight.
Tuesday February 5th
The Inland Pack Track is about 25km and can be done in anywhere from one
to three days. We'd originally planned to do it in three, but given the
weather and the not so attractive next campsite (near Bullock Creek farm),
we had pretty much decided to walk out when we set off on the second day.
It's probably worth taking three days over it and using the extra time
to do some exploration further up the Dilemma or the Fossil.
Keeping an eye out for grikes [aev]
We started with what was perhaps the nicest bit of the route, wading up
Fossil creek. Leaving the creek, the track then goes through beautiful
forest, in limestone/karst country cut by gullies - and with signs warning
of the dangers of "grikes" if one strayed off the track. (A grike is
"a deep, narrow, vertical or steeply inclined, rectilinear slot with
almost parallel sides", but it sounded like a kind of monster to me!)
There was also bit of mud, but nothing very difficult (and no leeches).
Pororari River gorge [aev]
At the Bullock Creek farm we stopped for a fairly miserable lunch, with
the rain getting strong enough for us to bring out our rainjackets (the
only time I used mine on the trip) and the sandflies a right nuisance.
There was, however, a view of the mountains (Euclid and Warning?) to the
east, and a temptingly signposted Mt Bovis track... When we reached the
Pororari we separated, with Joe continuing on to the Punakaiki river,
while Adrienne and I went down the Pororari. That brought us out right
at the pub, where I had a quick drink before walking up to the DOC centre
to meet Joe and get the car.
Up: New Zealand South Island 2002