45 river crossings before 11.30 am

Crossing Fox River for the third time.
Crossing Fox River for the third time.

The Inland Pack Track in the Punakaiki Region of the west coast was our next NZ adventure. This track entailed a 1.3 day journey, with promises of limestone gorges, forest and lots of river crossings.

We started the track from the mouth of the Fox River at Tiromoana at about 3 pm. Our first destination was the Fox River Caves on the north of the Fox River, and to reach these, we only had to cross the main river twice; which was chilly, but nothing to tricky. The track to the river cave was a diversion from our intended route, but it was well-worth it. The cave entrance was quite spectacular, and the 200 m or so of cave was well-decorated, having lots of stals, all covered in white popcorn-type stuff. After a brief explore, we back-tracked onto the main path, which welcomed us with a wide, crotch-deep river crossing (very chilly!).

Fox river caves.
Fox river caves.
The umbrella and mallet formation.
The umbrella and mallet formation.
Rachel lights some formations.
Rachel lights some formations.

Another 30 mins along the path came another river-crossing, equally as chilling. Another 4, less challenging, river-crossings led us to our campsite for the night, which was under a huge rock shelter, probably 100 m long, and overhanging by about 40 m. We set up camp, cooked tea and then watched the glow-worms in the roof of the cave. That was until we heard rustling and noticed that there were rodents and possums about, so the next 20 mins was consumed with deciding what to do with our food (in the end, we wrapped it in 2 rucksack liners and a dry bag, and Richard used it as his pillow!).

Crossing Fox River for the third time.
Crossing Fox River for the third time.
The Ballroom Overhang.
The Ballroom Overhang.

The following morning, we left camp around 9:30am and headed into Dilemma Creek. We think the ‘Dilemma’ at stake was whether or not to cross the river when the gravel banks petered out. In actual fact, there wasn’t really a dilemma as crossing the river was necessary to avoid deep pools. In total we crossed the river 45 times in Dilemma Creek and the subsequent Fossil Creek! Most of these were only knee deep but some were thigh deep and resulted in us having very cold feet! However, the limestone cliffs on either side of the gorge, and the contrast between the white of the rock and the green of the vegetation made up for the discomfort.

Yet another river crossing, this time with an added challenge!
Yet another river crossing, this time with an added challenge!

About 11:30am we came to the end of the river section of the track and started the forest yomp. We trekked through the forest for about 4 hours, admiring the birds, trees and the many many caves and shakeholes.

The last leg of the journey was down the Pororari River Gorge. There was both a bridge and a path along the river, so our feet remained warm! This section of the trail had pretty, almost tropical vegetation, namely Nikau Palms and Keikei vines, which kept Richard snapping with his camera. After a bit less than an hour, and just as the drizzle started, we reached the carpark where we had left the car. We celebrated surviving all the river crossings with cookies, ice cream and apples.

A Nikau Palm against the cliffs of the Pororari Gorge.

Series - New Zealand '12

  1. We’re in New Zealand…
  2. Dunedin – Sealife Central
  3. Tramping the Rees-Dart
  4. Ascent of Mount Fox
  5. 45 river crossings before 11.30 am
  6. Sea kayaking at Abel Tasman National Park
  7. Abel Tasman coastal track
  8. Karori 3 hour rogaine
  9. One day in Bangkok

6 thoughts on “45 river crossings before 11.30 am”

  1. Those rock formations in the cave next to Rachel’s leg look like sculptures! On the left side, closest to Rachel’s leg, I can clearly take out the figure of an old man, with crooked back, leaning over his walking stick. 🙂

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