Flying from Nelson or Motueka, our 25 minute helicopter flight with its ascent up Blue Creek is a dramatic introduction to the area, before we land in the alpine meadow called “The Hay Paddock” (not that hay would ever have been made up here), surrounded by impressive landscape near Sentinel Hill on the Mt Owen massif.
The Owen Plateau is a raised platform of limestone with curious geology, old gold history and the highest peak in the Northwest Nelson region. After the helicopter departs to its standby location, we have the option of winding our way through the labyrinth of karst boulders and fissures to the flat top of Mt Owen, where we have 360 degree views of the Kahurangi and Nelson Lakes National Parks, or taking a more gentle route to explore the saddles and valleys between the various summits on the massif through to Poverty or Castle Basins.
It’s around 300 metres of non-technical climbing from the tussock basin through curious and convoluted rock structure, full of crevasses, slumps and sinkholes; a strange and at times adventurous landscape requiring some agility to negotiate. The top is relatively flat topped with stunning views of the upper South Island and Kahurangi National Park.
Your guide will provide a delicious lunch on the mountain.
Rejoining the helicopter near Sunrise Peak, we fly past the impressive escarpments on the southern side of the mountain where the entrance to Bulmer cave provides access to over ninety kilometres of caving system, then take a superb descent through the narrow bush clad Granity Creek on our way back to base.
Depending on where you are staying (near Nelson City or in the Motueka area), we will either collect you by vehicle and drive to a nearby helibase, or we can collect you from your Lodge by helicopter (there may be an extra charge for this depending on your location).
From the Wakefield helibase, it is around 15 minutes of flying to Mt Owen, from the Motueka helibase around 20 minutes.
Landing on what is known as the “Hay Paddock” at around 1600 metres , we commence our climb through the unusual rock structures worn by past glacial action. The climb is steady and non-technical, but involves clambering over rock surfaces at times. Time to the summit usually takes around 2 – 2 1/2 hours and we will suit the speed of climb to your fitness and enjoyment.
Once on the relatively flat top of the mountain there are superb views in all directions, and time for photos, tea and cake.
It’s a further 30 minutes off the western side of the summit close to where the landscape provided a backdrop for filming on the first “Lord of the Rings” movie, down to where the helicopter awaits.
Helicopter, guide and lunch.
We can supply extra clothing, day packs and walking poles if you require them.
How strenuous is the hike?
It is a 300 metre (100oft) steady climb which requires reasonable fitness. There is a route rather than a track, which at time requires scrambling over firm marble surfaces. It is not technical.
What would happen if bad weather descended quickly?
The helicopter remains on the mountain with us. We have radio and phone contact with it, and in the event of a sudden change, such as low cloud/poor visibility we are able to call the helicopter to leave immediately. There is also a hut about 40 minutes walk from our landing site on the mountain which can be used in the event of an emergency.
What kind of gear/clothing do I need?
This is an alpine trip and the weather can change quickly in New Zealand. You should have a polypropylene or wool undergarment next to your skin, shirt, and a warm fleece or wool pullover, plus a windproof jacket. Most New Zealanders wear shorts, preferably of the quick drying type, although travel type trousers are fine. Avoid cotton garments if possible. We can usually supply this type of clothing if required. Trainers or running shoes are adequate for this trip, light hiking shoes or boots are better. A day pack and water bottle are useful. (we can also supply these)