05-Mar-2007 -- Continued from 47°S 168°E.
This is the remotest confluence point in New Zealand and the only one left that has not even been attempted at the time of writing. I had assumed that a visit would not be straightforward, so I contacted the DOC (Department of Conservation) well in advance via email, explaining where we wanted to go. The DOC at the Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre replied in a short email that there is no permission required for the area around Lake Moat, but that we had to find our own transport.
I started to study the map of Fjordland Park intensively, but however I looked at it, at all solutions required an unpredictable number of days of hiking without any paths. My only hope to get to the confluence was that the forest would be more passable than what we had been confronted with at 47°S 168°E. The options I saw were:
- Hiking the Hump Track along the South Coast and then find a way through the wilderness along Lake Poteriteri or Lake Hakapouna. Unfortunately both lakes have extremely steep cliff lines.
- Sailing along the coast and set anchor in the Long Sound. From the very end of the sound it is "just“ a 10km-hike. Alas, there is no such ship unless you hire it for quite some money.
- A company is running hunting tours to lake Poteriteri. Their boat goes upstream the Waitutu River into the Lake and from the lake it would be less than a 10km-beeline-hike. Sadly, at this time the water level on Waitutu River was too low for boats to get into lake Poteriteri.
We decided to do the Dusky Track (picture #3) which is the an official track that comes as close to the confluence point as any other hiking track. We would do the track and do a deviation from the Lake Hauroko Hut (picture #4) to do the confluence.
For to get to Lake Hauroko Hut, we had to take a shared taxi and a water taxi (can be booked by Lake Hauroko Tours). But as we got into the area, and seeing these steep impassable grades of the mountains in Fjordland, it very soon became clear that it would not be realistic to reach the point. The GPS showed a beeline distance of 22km. Even on a path, such a distance takes two days in one direction - hard to imagine how long it would take without a footpath! Probably it would be best to get above the treeline and then hike along the ridges, rather than fighting through the dense low land canopy in the rain forests.
It turned out, that the Dusky Track itself held a sufficient high degree of difficulty for us with flooded areas and days we were forced to wait until parts of the track got passable again. After a week’s hike we reached the other end of the track (Supper Cove), from where we flew back into civilization by helicopter. There, we passed the confluence region (picture #1).
In my point of view, the best would be to hire a water plane and land on Lake Moat. Ask the pilot to pick you up one or two days later - that should give you enough time to visit the confluence. From the north end of Lake Moat it is 3km beeline distance to the CP.
CP visit details:
- Distance to a track: ca. 22km
- Distance to a road: ca. 45km
- Distance to a lake: ca. 3km
- Distance to the coast: ca. 10km
- Topography: steep mountainous area, dense jungle.
- Minimal distance according to GPS: 21 km
- Given Name: The Remote Fjordland Confluence
After we came back from the Dusky Track, there was an email waiting for us from the DOC with more information how to tackle this confluence. Unfortunately too late for us, but we’d like to pass this information further for future attempters:
"Dear Mr Mautz,
Thank you for your email regarding visiting Fiordland National Park. Access into most of the park is unrestricted and open to all visitors who are there for recreational purposes. Where any commercial activity is taking place within the park, a concession may be required (see www.doc.govt.nz and look in the 'about DOC' section for more information about concessions).
The area you wish to visit is remote and will require people with good fitness. There are no tracks or huts within the vicinity. I would suggest three options for getting to the site:
- 1. Employ the services of a helicopter or float plane to drop you off. The drop off site may not be close to Lake Moat as landing points within the park are restricted. One company which is located near Tuatapere is South West Helicopters www.southwesthelicopters.co.nz. I suggest you contact them or another company to find out more.
- 2. Walk in via the South Coast Track (see www.doc.govt.nz and go to parks & recreation>tracks & walks>southland>Murihiku and look for the Bluecliffs to Wairaurahiri via Port Craig Track and Wairaurahiri to Waitutu Track descriptions). There are huts along this route and it would take three days to reach the Waitutu Hut. From there you would need excellent navigational skills to find your own way up to you destination. There are no huts within this area and Emergency Person Locator Beacons (EPERB) should be carried.
- 3. Employ the services of Vaughn Reynolds (ph 027 565 9463) who holds a concession to take a jet boat from Lake Hauroko, down the Wairaurahiri River, along the coast and up the Waitutu River to the mouth of Lake Poteriteri. You would then need to walk to your site similar to option two above.
It is important to stress the remoteness and wilderness terrain in this area. Excellent navigational skills and a high level of fitness will be required. Topographical maps, GPS, EPERB and clothing for extreme weather conditions should be carried and your trip intentions left with a reliable person.
I hope this information has been helpful.
Programme Manager - Community Relations, Murihiku Area Office, Department of Conservation“
Story continues at 44°S 169°E