Sunday 4 July 2021
Five trampers set off at 9.45 am from the Bethunes Gully car park in north Dunedin, having driven the 114 kms from Oamaru. The day was fine – not a cloud in the sky – and brisk, with a heavy frost in the secluded valley. The track is dual purpose in its lower reaches, although no mountain bikes were seen, and it winds steadily at a reasonable gradient up from Lindsay Creek. It initially passes through stands of towering conifers with native undergrowth, but this soon changes to lowland native forest, becoming more stunted as it climbs and transiting to subalpine associations dominated by Dracophylla near the top. At about the half-way point, a short loop track goes off to the east, where we stopped for smoko. We then re-joined the main track via the apparently unused return leg of the loop and carried on to reach the top ridge shortly before midday. There we turned left for the final 20 minutes up to the summit, dominated by the 105 metre television mast.
We loitered on the summit to take in the 360o panorama, from the snow-clad Lammerlaws and Rock and Pillars in the west, past the Silverpeaks and Horse Range to the deeply sculpted coastline to the north, the spectacular Otago Harbour in the east and Dunedin City to the south. We then returned down the track to settle in a sunny, sheltered nook overlooking Blueskin Bay for lunch.
Lunch over, we set off at 1 o’clock back down to the track junction where we took the east branch. This headed gently down into a saddle, past Buttars Peak and reaching the famous Organ Pipes after about half an hour’s walking. As we sat admiring the standing basalt columns of the ‘pipes’ high above us, we speculated about what had brought down the many pipes in the jumble where we sat and the chances of more falling on us.
The return journey, retracing our steps, took 1 ½ hours to reach the carpark at 3.15. All agreed it had been a great day with interesting bush, spectacular views and perfect tramping weather. The numerous walkers of all ages, many with dogs, and runners we had met seemed to share that view. Those enjoying it were Sylvia, Uwe, Bev, Margaret and John.