Freehold Creek to Tarns 1479m

Freehold Creek to Tarns 1479m, 13th May 2023

The planned trip up to Snowy Gorge Hut could not go ahead due to high river levels in the Ahuriri, so our flexible and accommodating group of five trampers decided on a day trip up to the tarns above Freehold Creek instead. After previous days of snow and rain in the hills, we had a perfect day.

Leaving Oamaru at 8am (a 7am start would have given us longer daylight for this trip in mid May), we started walking from Glen Mary Ski Hut at 10am. From here it took an hour to the Freehold Creek bridge, then an hour up to the bushline. The beech forest was alive with birdlife: rifleman, fantail, tomtit, grey warbler, bellbird (thanks to the trapping done by Ohau Conservation Trust.) After the heavy rains we were delighted with innumerable fungi springing up in all colours: purple, orange, yellow, brown, pure white, some with fluted edges.

From the bushline we crossed the creek and followed a narrow track up to the right, finding a poled route up to the tarns at 1479m, clambering over rock and sub-alpine vegetation for one and half hours. The fresh snow and soft autumn light made for a beautiful setting, and the views to the peaks above and the turquoise lake below were magnificent.

After lunch at 2pm overlooking the first tarn, (the second tarn is 5 minutes up the slope), we descended quickly to the bush and were back at the car by 4.30pm. The air was cool and our feet were cold after creek crossings, so we warmed up at Ohau Lodge with hot drinks before heading home.

Thanks to Roz, Anna, Jane, and Claire for genial company and a great day in alpine scenery.


Jenny Kitchin