There was a big crew of us today. We drove in convoy on the 54km journey along the river in the stunning Matukituki valley into the Mt Aspiring National Park. The drive alone is a photographers paradise, and certainly today with the combination of mist in some areas with the light sparkling through and touching the contours of the hills surrounding the flats, it was a dramatic scene.
The road is definitely better with a 4×4 car with creeks, fjords and washouts all the way along which I’m sure would make it an exciting drive in stormy weather. The expansive shallow turquoise riverbed snakes down the valley. The only way I can think to describe it is like when you first start to twist and mix white and turquoise childrens plasticine and it goes streaky. This is the route the road follows all the way to the Raspberry Creek car park and is also a great entry point to the Mount Aspiring National park – an area of spectacular alpine scenery, snowfields, glaciers, sheer rock cliffs and waterfalls.
From the car park the walk begins. About 5-10 minutes from the Raspberry Flat car-park, there is a swing bridge crossing over the Matukituki river, downstream from the Rob Roy Stream junction. After the bridge the hike leads through a small gorge into an amazing variety of vegetation from beech forest, into alpine vegetation.
It’s the strangest combination of falling glacier and velvety ferns and mosses. It was unusual for me having come from the Swiss Alps to land in a country with this diverse ecosystems working close together. You hardly expect to be hiking in your shorts and t-shirts in dense rainforest to arrive at the foot of a glacier.
The hike is fairly easy although I was doing it with a camera bag and tripod so it was a little tiring, but nicely tiring when I knew the rewards. At one stage I slowed down to shoot some shots for Douchebags with Tori Beattie, and then told her to head on and catch up with everyone else whilst I shot some of the forest. I walked alone for around 15 minutes and the peace and the sounds of the forest and the birds was euphonious.
Once I had shot some forest images I rushed to catch up with everyone. The trees suddenly cleared and revealed a massive white glacier with a massive waterfall to the left. We were above the dense forest and the panorama that stretched out in front of us was exceptional. It was well worth the 3-4 hour round journey.