Rainbow – St Arnaud Range traverse – 23-24 February 2020
This tramp was delayed by one day because of bad weather forecast for Saturday. There were two groups for this tramp, day walkers and overnight trampers. Both groups met at Richmond and Wakefield at 7.30 and 7.45 respectively. We proceeded to Lake Rotoiti where we left two vehicles, then everyone went in two 4WDs up to the Rainbow skifield carpark. Together both groups headed to the top of Mt McRae 1878m, then after taking in the stunning views the overnight trampers headed down to the top skifield road and into the first tarn basin. As our way was not a marked or formed track, a map was consulted to find the best route. Each tarn basin was reached via a saddle and once on a saddle we got a panoramic view over the basin and could then plot a likely way forward. We were unexpectedly treated to the sight of gliders soaring close above us - I’m sure they could see us as well as we them. After six hours of reasonably hard walking up and down, over loose rocks and thick tussock grass we chose a nice clear tarn with a flow of fresh water entering it to make camp. From our camp site we got stunning views down to a lower set of tarns and the Wairau River. The temperature dropped quickly once the sun disappeared behind the ridge and so did we into our tents for an early night.
We rose next morning at 7am accompanied by the sun soon after. It was a perfect morning, no wind, no dew on the grass and a dry tent to pack. Once breakfast was completed and our backpacks packed we crossed into the neighbouring basin and then started the climb up and onto the St Arnaud ridge. The views east were clear and stunning, in contrast however, Rotoiti was shrouded in a thick blanket of cloud. We sat for a while enjoying the views before descending to Parachute Rock and then the long walk down to Kerr Bay and the cars for a cuppa. Rob and Jeannie braved a dip in the lake.
This weekend will be remembered for the fabulous weather, nature’s beauty and great company.
Those on the overnight tramp; Eric (scribe), Rob, Maria, Ian W and Jeannie.