Nowadays, it is a hidden gem for tramping tracks providing stunning views as the treeline on the northeastern slope of Mt. Robert is unusually low due to erosion following the loss of the Original beech forest by fire and subsequent grazing. The slopes of Mt Robert, once held stable by beech forest, have become active with erosion scarps and scree slopes from the loss of trees by fire in 1887
. For many years after that, early settlers kept the northern face of Mt Robert bare of trees through grazing of sheep and occasional fire, to maintain the grass cover. It could take many centuries for the forest cover to fully return. Fortunately, the beech forest on the upper Pinchgut Track escaped the ravages of fire; red tussock, home to native tussock butterflies, flourishes around Bushline Hut and across the ridge top. Knowing this, we read about the Mt. Robert loop walk - a walk for 5 hours up the mountain (850m - 1421m) over steep Zigzag tracks (The Pinchgut Track), then it continues along a ridge to Bushline Hut, before descending via de more gentle Paddy's Track. From this side of the mountain, stunning lake views (Lake Rotoiti) and surroundings! Mt Robert Circuit (5 h return - well, 3 1/2 for us)
The Mt Robert Circuit is a loop track around the northern face of Mt Robert with spectacular views over Lake Rotoiti. We chose to start this walk from the Pinchgut Track, which begins at Mt Robert Car Park, and to return via Paddy’s Track, which ends 500 metres before the Pinchgut Track on the Mt Robert Road.
The Pinchgut Track zigzags up the steep, bare face of Mt Robert on a well graded track before entering beech forest
. After climbing for one and a half hours, we reached Bush Edge Shelter, located where the forest gives way to alpine herbs and shrubs and the vegetation zone changes. From here the track continues across the open ridge top where we reached a second shelter (Relax Shelter) a few minutes on. On the rim we could not see anything, which was quite scary as we did know that it was going downwards to both sides but could not see a thing, neither how steep it was. At a junction just past the second shelter, Paddy’s Track began and we were heading east to Bushline Hut, a great place to stop. Normally it is regularly visited, but here we encountered volunteers who we helping rebuilding and maintaing the hut. Even more spectacular - everything was brought there by hilecopter, and Maria was jeaulous for a ride... :-)
As we have not had a good walk for a few days, it was time to prepare ourselfes for the Abel Tasman Walk that we planned to do the next day. So today would be a great excercise and we surprised ourselfes by doing this track in just 4 hours. Maybe it was the cloudy weather and some light rainfall at the end of the day but tired and satisfied we awarded ourselfes with a defiintely deserved and aboslutely great hot shower at the DOC Campside in St. Arnaud.
Later that evening - after a quick bite at the shores of lake Rotoiti, seeing the Mt. Robert in the Background - we moved on to Marahau, the Barn Campsite.
Abel Tasman, here we come!
Murchison Car Park is in the North-West of the Southern Island and is located in between mountain ranges. Beautiful lush green hillsides with sometimes snowcapped peaks. It is also halfway between the West-Coast and the Noth side of the Southern Island. From here we are heading towards Abel Tasman National Park, but beforehand we decided that we will visit St. Arnaud, which is a small Alpine Village holding a few shops for the locals and the tourists who pass by. Once there were ski facilities here, but the lack of snow kept the people away.