Thursday, 5 January 2012

Leg 7 Waikaia to Alexandra Description

A big leg this one, but also spectacular. It starts out easy enough as you meander up the Waikaia valley to Piano Flat (DOC campground) and through one of the best remaining examples of mixed beech forest featuring both the red beech and silver beech.

Piano Flat DOC Campground
The beech forest provides a welcome respite from the summer sun as you continue past Piano Flat to Christies Hut and Waikaia Bush Road. If you hit Canton Bridge (locked gate at opposite end of bridge), you have missed the turn off back up the hill and to your right! At the top of the rise Waikaia Bush Road continues across the paddock and through the gate (a bit tricky to spot).

Just down over the edge of the hill, in the grass, is Christies Hut. A somewhat unmaintained but still functional tin hut with a long drop loo tucked into the beech forest above the stream.

The climb up onto the Old Man Range starts here. The track is good but the climb is steep but you will be rewarded with the views.

Waikaia Bush from Old Man Range
A popular 4WD and Trail Bike trip, the road across the top of the range is well formed and easy to navigate. Just remember to hang a left and continue along the main ridge at the start of Kopuwai Conservation Area. Another small tin hut (A Hut) marks the intersection of Waikaia Bush Road and the track along the range (you are heading to the left of the hut). For more comfortable accomodation Potters Hut sits off Waikaia Bush Road a km or two back.

Waikaia Bush Road
From here it a straight run across to the Obelisk (visible from Alexandra, a 26m high rock tor atop the Old Man Range).

Across the Old Man Range

Just after the Obelisk keep left along the Prospect Hill Track (not Omeo Gully which is to the right). You head along the Obelisk Range to Prospect Hill and a steep descent onto Frasers Dam Road. After the steepness of Prospect Hill, Frasers Dam Road eases you onto Earnscleugh flats and the banks of the Clutha River.

Hang a left into Marshall Road and pop onto the Alexandra-Clyde River Trail for some nice singletrack into Alexandra itself (pop up onto the road at the steel bridge to cross the Clutha to Alex).

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