Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Mt Bradley - 30 November 2013

Visiting Mt Bradley via Kaituna to Packhorse Hut Track

The weather has not been cooperating with my tramping plans this year. I had planned to visit the Robinson Valley last weekend but because of rain and high wind forecasted decided to try a trip closer to home.

A day trip to Mt Bradley, Banks Peninsula

I was walking to the summit of Mt Bradley, via the Kaituna Valley - Packhorse Hut track. Mt Bradley is the third highest peak on Banks Peninsula and a worthy destination in its own right. I was out for 8 hours on the day and didn't see another person the whole time.

The 'beast' parked at the Kaituna Valley car park

Kaituna Valley - Mt Bradley area

I parked my car at the Kaituna Valley track end, and followed the familiar track across farmland and up to the saddle the hut sits on. This is the 5th time I have walked this track, 3 times in the last 2 years

Mt Bradley is the ridge in the far distance

The track passes over the local farm and along a 4 W/D track right up to the hut, it is located on the saddle between the two peaks in the centre of this photo.

On the Kaituna Valley - Packhorse Hut track

Lovely lush greenery as there has been a bit of rain recently, the track cuts through the occasion patch of brush and bush as it ascends.

On the Kaituna Valley - Packhorse Hut track

Lots of native bush to left and right of the track through this section, also a couple of very small streams.

View west towards the Remarkable Dikes area

This is a substantial area of regenerating bush in a gully to the south of the track. The peaks at the top of the photo are the rear of the Remarkable Dykes, a  bluff like volcanic up-welling. There is a short track from Packhorse Hut if you would like to visit the area.

Mt Bradley from the Kaituna Valley - Packhorse Hut track

Above is the view of Mt Bradley as you see as you ascend the track.

View SE towards Kaituna, Birdlings Flat and ocean

Here I am halfway up the Kaituna valley track, the car park is located near the trees in the middle of the photo.

Packhorse Hut atop Kaituna Saddle

You get a good view of the hut as you top the last rise in the track. If you are thinking of staying overnight in the hut you should collect some dead fall wood in the patch of bush you pass near this spot. The hut is warm but there has been no firewood the last two times I have been there, it can get cold if the weather is bad.

This is a great location for an overnight trip - even in winter - the track is easy to follow, you are only an hour away from the bottom of the valley.

Note: Since 2017 Packhorse Hut is on the DOC Hut booking schedule...book before you go to secure a spot. 

A view to the South-West from near Packhorse Hut

Gebbies Pass from Kaituna Saddle

Another view showing the antenna farm near Gebbies Pass, this is an alternate route, you ascend through the forest to the hut.

Lyttleton Harbour, Sugar Loaf and the Southern Alps

Looking North down into Lyttleton harbour, with the Sugar Loaf and the foot hill of the Southern Alps in the background.
Packhorse Hut

Packhorse Hut, it is a great for a lunch stop overnight stay. It is also the closest DOC hut to Christchurch so it can be busy in the weekends.

From the hut you continue east on the Te Ara Pataka Walkway which starts next to the hut. The track moves through mixed tussock, gullies and bush remnants until you reach the side track to Mt Herbert. The track slowly zig zags up the southern flank of Mt Bradley until you reach a point where it sidles eastward. You leave the track at this point and make you own way uphill to the summit.

Below are several shots taken as I followed the track, you can see Packhorse Hut for most of the way.

On the Te Ara Pataka Walkway- back side of Mt Bradley

On the Te Ara Pataka Walkway

The track sidles upwards through the tussock, around rocky tors and over low shrubs.

View due South from flank of Mt Bradley

Packhorse Hut is situated in the middle of the saddle, with the Remarkable Dykes behind.

On the Te Ara Pataka Walkway- heading towards summit

Here we can see the valley from near the top of the mountain.

The Port Hills and North Canterbury from Mt Bradley

I finally made it to the top of the mountain, the views from the top are spectacular. Here is a view from the summit looking north over Lytellton, the Port Hills and out to Kaikoura.
The forest around Gebbies Pass from Mt Bradley

The view down towards Gebbies pass, and South West to the Alps.

View South along the apex of Mt Bradley

 This is South along the ridge line, you could walk along here and make your own route down to  Packhorse hut, you would need to watch out for bluffs. and other hazards
 It was just possible to make out Aoraki/ Mt Cook when I first reached the summit  it was soon covered by an approaching front. I didn't stay for long on top as the wind picked up and the cloud drifting over the mountain made me worry about visibility on the way down.

McQueens Forest from Mt Bradley

Heading back down,  this is Lake Ellesmere, South Canterbury and in the extreme distance the Southern Alps. You can see the front that was making its way up the South Island.

Te Ara Pataka Walkway- Mt Herbert 45 mins that way

This is the track heading towards Mt Herbert, it would be another 1 - 1.5 hours away from this point. It is a rough route, following the base of these bluffs: it is exposed to the weather, steep and there is a big drop on one side to contend with. Not for the faint hearted.

The Te Ara Pataka Walkway runs along those distant hills

Here are the distant ridges at the top of Kaituna Valley, an extended traverse is possible along these tops.
The secondary ridge down to Kaituna Valley

View down the ridge line to the Kaituna valley and ocean in the distance. Once you leave the track you basically follow this spur all the way to the top.

My rest spot on flank Mt Bradley

I stopped for a rest on the way down: it was quiet and peaceful laying in the tussock out of the breeze. Below are shots to the right and left of my resting area. I was quite comfortable here in the lee of the mountain with a great panorama all around me.

The Remarkable Dikes in middle distance, Lake Ellesmere behind

Native bush regeneration - Mt Bradley

There are significant areas of re generating bush in the steep sided gully's on the sides of Mt Bradley.

Mt Bradley: An old Walkways Commission marker

The marking of the track to the Mt Herbert is ludicrous: these are examples of the markers used. The track is distinct but there are no signs/maps/notices etc. to say that you are on the correct route. I had to get the map out and triangulate my position on the climb up as I was concerned I might be following the wrong track.

The track is very basic (it is actually a route: this is the most basic category of trail in NZ), this is typical of the conditions you face while accessing this area. This is a proper tramp.  If you were under equipped and struck bad weather you could get in a lot of trouble. I was carrying all the gears as a safety measure: wet weather/thermals/bivy etc. as I had heard how rough the going was.

Southerly front approaching from South

View to the South again, here is the front coming over the Alps in the distance.

Mt Bradley Massif- native bush in the gully

This is a beautiful wooded gully on the south flank of Mt Bradley, there is always a tremendous amount of birdsong coming from this area. Small pockets of bush like this are slowly regenerating across Banks Peninsula, in 40-50+ years a goodly percent of the peninsula will be forested much as it was before Europeans arrived.

I wont be here but I like to think about how my kids will be able to enjoy it.

Heading back to Kaituna on the Kaituna Valley - Packhorse Hut track

It was a great trip, I will come back early next year and walk all the way around to Mt Herbert.

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