Blue Lake

The trip started with the ferry crew handing out free boxes of chips to everyone on board – their way of compensation for the 2-hour delay to our departure. I bought some fish to go with my chips and the crew gave me even more free chips. Feeling fully carb-loaded, we set off for Lake Rotoroa and arrived at the campsite after dark. The next morning we did our best to avoid the sandlifes and caught a water taxi to Sabine Hut. The jetty at the north end of the lake was barely above the water but the jetty at the south end was submerged, allowing for some great ‘walking on water’ pics. 

Kannie walking on water

From Sabine Hut we walked up the Sabine River. There was a brief climb and descent to begin with but after that it was a very gradual gain in elevation. The trickiest part of the trip came after about 2 hours, where the route out of a side-stream involved hugging onto crumbling rocks on a narrow ledge overlooking a steep drop down to the river.

Rock scramble next to the river

We took 2 hours longer than the 5-hour DOC time to reach West Sabine Hut, our destination for the night. Our group included several relatively new trampers, and we took a bit of time crossing the many side streams on the way as people tried to keep their boots dry.

At West Sabine Hut we met another tramper who warned us about a difficult glacier we would have to traverse to get to Blue Lake, where we were headed the next day on a day trip. We set off a little anxiously the following morning, but the glacier turned out to be a long chute of snow – possibly the remnants of an avalanche. It was a bit tricky to get up to and across, but we managed.

Crossing the glacier

The weather on the first day had been good, but on day two the mist set in. Unfortunately that meant our views of Blue Lake were somewhat less spectacular than the photos we’d seen online. 

The group by the lake

It was also a bit chilly at 1200 metres, so we were thankful for the fire that some hunters had got going in the hut. After waiting in vain for the mist to clear, we headed back down to West Sabine Hut and a dinner of satay noodles.

We woke the next day to clearing skies and cursed our luck: Blue Lake would have looked great that day, but we were headed in the opposite direction. By now everyone was embracing the feeling of cold wet boots and we ploughed straight through all the side streams and mud patches. This helped shave an hour off our time, and we were able to soak up some sun before catching the water taxi back across the lake and disembarking into a swarm of sandflies. A few of the sandflies hitched a ride in the van as we headed off, stopping off in St Arnaud for an ice cream before catching the ferry home.

Sitting in the sun by the river

Trip times:

Sabine Hut to West Sabine Hut: 7 hours

West Sabine Hut to Blue Lake Hut: 3 hours 40 minutes

Blue Lake Hut to West Sabine Hut: 3 hours 30 minutes

West Sabine Hut to Sabine Hut: 6 hours

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