Rock of AgesIntermediate
Submitted by Malcolm Law
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Back country - remote
Out and Back
Undulating, small hills only
Native bushRiversideOpen farmlands
Not Suitable (Slow)
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Cross the Matukituki River on the swingbridge and follow the obvious trail as it bears right across open tussock and into beech forest close to the river. The trail stays close to the river for a km or so and then merges into more of a 4WD track which you follow towards a fenceline on your left.
Pick up the dead straight, 1 km long station road (gravel) that takes you into the Eastern Branch of the Matukituki and at the end of this follow the poled route across open country to the National Park boundary, adjacent to Glacier Burn.
Cross Glacier on the swingbridge (slightly upstream, just out of sight when you first enter the bush) and follow the trail north through beech forest. There are several places where it gets very close to the river, making for some very tempting swimming spots on a hot day. Most of this section is pretty rough with plenty of rocks and roots to fall over, and even a wee waterfall to cross with the aid of a chain. All rather magical!
On reaching Junction Flat turn left on to the Kitchener Track that heads uphill steeply into the magnificent Kitchener River and spits you out on to Aspiring Flats. The final few km you'll be on the river flats with no trail or markers, crossing the Kitchener where you can (take care, some parts run deep!) Finding the Rock of Ages bivvy isn't the easiest thing in the world - it's tucked away in the bush on the left hand (true right) side of the valley about a km upstream.
If your hunt for the bivvy is successful (well worth the search - it's a huge rock overhang) then give yourself a pat on the back and start re-tracing your steps back to the car.
There is one wee diversion on your way back that is worth noting - where the Kitchener Track rejoins the E. Matukituki Track, turn left and check out the scary 3-wire bridge a couple of hundred metres upstream.
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Features of interest
Stunning scenery the whole way, especially the views of the Kitchener Face of Mt. Aspiring that dominate the landscape up at Aspiring Flats.
The Rock of Ages divvy is a classic rock overhang bivvy that is worth hunting for. Swimming holes and a wobbly 3-wire bridge for those that dare!
Make Up of Run
Untracked / Route only: 5%
Technical Single Track: 50%
Moderate Single Track: 25%
Easy Single Track: 10%
Farm Road / 4WD Track: 5%
Gravel Road: 5%
Swing bridge across the Matukituki River 4-5kms from the end of Wanaka - Mt. Aspiring Rd.
Drive out of Wanaka through Glendhu Bay and continue past the turn off for Treble Cone Skifield. It's now gravel road all the way and can get severely 'washboarded' by the end of summer. Drive past the signed turn-off to Cameron Flat and about 3k further on you'll see the swing bridge. Plenty of safe parking on the grass next to this.
There are shuttles from Wanaka but having your own car makes it much easier. Parking is safe.
Make navigation of this route super-easy by using the RunHunters app on your phone. View on RunHunters .
It's all pretty obvious apart from the hunt for Rock of Ages bivvy which may require a little patience. But even if you don't find it the views from Aspiring Flats are gobsmacking and make the trip very worthwhile.
Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Gloves, Beanie/thermal headwear, Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival blanket, Cellphone, Map.
Plenty of water once you reach the National Park boundary. Maybe start with 500ml and fill from streams beyond this point.
Can get very muddy after rain, ice and snow a real possibility in winter.
Do not attempt crossing the Kitchener River if it's running high.
Main hazard is a swollen Kitchener River after heavy rain - do NOT attempt to cross it. Other streams are bridged, so you should be able to get most of the way in pretty much any weather.
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