So Long, South Island
As a way to say goodbye to the South Island that we’ve called home for over 7 months, we recently made the full day’s drive down to Wanaka for one more mountain adventure. The beautiful West Matukituki Valley lies in the heart of Mount Aspiring National Park, which has captivated us time and time again with beech forest, tumbling glaciers, and mountain meadows. The chance to spend two days high above and encircled by the Southern Alps proved the perfect farewell.
Ascending 4,000 feet in just 2 miles, the route from Aspiring Hut to the north ridge of Mount Tyndall is a punishing ascent through snow grass and precipitous crags.
But the view helps take the mind off burning legs and lungs.
A small hollow at the top of the ridge makes for a perfect campsite: just enough protection from a stiff east wind, and incredible views across the valley to Mount Aspiring.
A full moon rises, and the Southern Cross and Orion dominate the bright night sky.
New Zealand’s changeable weather brings consistently inspiring sunrises. First light hits Aspiring and the West Matukituki gleams like mercury.
The twin summits of Mount Tyndall, our objective for the day, beckon beyond our camp.
A few hours later, we stand atop the lower northeast peak. The precipitous east face drops into the arc of the river valley far below.
The main summit is an impressive pyramid from here.
We trek across the Isobel Glacier to the base of the pyramid. Crumbling rock plagues our ascent from here, making an otherwise straightforward climb an unexpected challenge.
The summit is small and very satisfying. The mountain falls away steeply in all directions and our view extends over three national parks and countless peaks.
Back at camp in late afternoon, we perch on the valley’s edge. Certainly one of our favorite views in the country.
Another alpine morning, another stunning sunrise. The Rob Roy Glacier glows in morning light before the clouds roll in for good. We descend to the car and hole up in Wanaka while rain pours down during the night. A perfectly timed trip.
So long, South Island!