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Lake Aorere – Centre Mountain – Mt Dommett – Gouland Range – Mount Inaccessible tramping traverse

Mount Inaccessible.jpg
Lake Aorere, or “Heart Lake” could be a romantic spot, if the weather wasn’t so generally bad. It’s a cute, heart shaped lake, nestled between Beautiful and Ugly Rivers, on the main divide between rivers draining east and west, tucked below shapely Center Mountain and rugged Mt Dommett. Luckily my heart was bursting with the pleasure of a fine day in the wilds.


Climbing out of the Roaring Lion was steep, through speargrass and boulder. Steep granite curves flowed off Center Mount, as windswept beech showed how wild this saddle can get. I scrambled up the steep haul to the summit of Mt Dommett, but sadly clouds suddenly condensed.

The Spey River wiggled away below, and I spied my route up a steep ridge toward Gouland range. The Spey is easy going, bush travel gives way to shingle flats. Deer trails make life easy.

Mount Inaccessible.jpg I was overjoyed to make the summit ridge of Gouland Range, as mountains stretched for miles under a puffy cumulus ceiling. The Tasman Sea glowed on the horizon, steep bush catchment of Gouland River wound below, and the Heaphy track is visible as a straight line through red tussock.

Gouland Range.jpg

Some of the best views in Kahurangi, from Mt Owen and Garibaldi in the south, to Farewell Spit and Dragons teeth in the east. Why hadnt I come here before? Lying stunned by the vista, I scoffed all the rest of my food. Mount Gouland has great views, and I had to try climbing Mount Inaccessible. A hill in fact easily accessed, by animal trails and dodgy climbs around massive rocks balanced ready to fall. One I named Space Shuttle rock, angled in landing position.

The long trudge down and up Kaka Saddle was made easier by the old track markers from NZFS days – metal diamonds poking out from trunks, the easiest to see of all markers. But in fact marking only a deer trail – or have deer kept open the people trail? A definite people trail takes you down to Perry Saddle and DOC, as I raced down the Heaphy highway in the dark without stumbling once.
Gouland Downs.jpgGouland Range.jpg


Comment from Jen
Time: July 6, 2010, 1:57 pm

Wow what an epic trip! Garibaldi Ridge looks really interesting, how long did it take you to get there?

Comment from Laura McLeod
Time: March 26, 2011, 1:45 pm

Look amazing-how many days did this take you?
What area would you recommend for a 5 day tramp in the Kahurangi area at Easter time??

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