Hope Arm – Lake Manapouri. A nice start to summer, by Aimee Paterson

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    Tony Gazley
    Keymaster

    Lake Manapouri

    This was a great little overnight trip using our packrafts.

    To access the track to Hope Arm you need to get across the Waiau River. Our chosen vessel was the packraft. This involved an incredible amount of faffing (an hour and a half to pack up, paddle and repack on the other side) and some unusual packrafting technique (legs hanging over the tubes so there was room for a pack inside the boat). We launched from the boat ramp at Pearl Harbour, crossed the river, and floated downstream to a little wharf that provides access to the trail.

    Start of the track to Hope Arm

    Unusual paddling technique – but it worked

    Faffing now out of the way, it was wonderful to be walking on a tramping track again. The track is in very good condition and well sign-posted the entire way (one or two little diversions made us wander about for a minute). Tony initially took my boat as well as his own but he was walking with a scary lean, so I demanded that I be able to carry my boat myself!

    Aimee on the track to Hope Arm

    Tony on the track to Hope Arm

    Hope Arm Hut is at the end of a long beach with plenty of idyllic campsites. Tony spent the evening explaining to me how in 24 BC Eratosthenes estimated the circumference of the Earth (and I tried to pick a hole in the theory by asking how he could know the lines to the sun were parallel?) We fell asleep listening to gentle rain on the tin roof.

    Morning at Hope Arm

    Ready for the day’s paddling

    The morning was fine and clear, and we packed up and paddled the short distance to the track leading to the ‘Monument’. The start of the track was nicely marked with an orange triangle at the rocky end of the beach. DOC warned it was at least two hours return, and they were right! The second half of the ascent is steep, and at one point there is a chain to help you up a little rock chimney (like the one on the Shark’s Tooth at Mount Taranaki). Tony was carrying his camera in a yellow box that I called his lunch box. Getting both people and lunch box up the chimney was exciting! We were rewarded with lovely views back to Mount Titiroa, and out onto the lake. Had we left our boats a little bit more exposed (and not hidden under a tree) we would’ve seen them on the beach directly below too.

    Aimee climbing the chimney on the way up the Monument

    After a wobbly descent we were back in boats and setting sail for George Bay. The wind had picked up a wee bit by then so progress was slower and bumpier. However, we did not have far to go, and we soon identified our little beach landing spot. Again, DOC have kindly marked the portage track with an orange marker. The portage track is wide enough to carry a fully inflated packraft. We made two trips – one with Tony’s laden boat, and another with my light boat and paddles.

    Paddling back to Pearl Habour

    On the other side we leisurely paddled back along the coast, with a tailwind, to Pearl Harbour boat ramp. Once back on dry land, the faffing was over much quicker. The trip was finished with an ice cream at the Manapouri Café. What a way to start summer!

    Aimee P and Tony G, 26 to 27 December 2021

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