Mt Owen via Granity PassIntermediate - Experienced
Submitted by Mike Steel
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Back country - remote
Out and Back
Undulating, some big hills
Native bushRiversideOpen tussock/grasslandsOpen ridges/topsOther
Intermediate - Experienced
The exit from the 'Mines of Moria' (where Gandalf fell into darkness), and the highest point in Kaharangi National Park, Mt Owen is a spectacular high limestone landscape with sweeping views on a clear day. Most easily approached from Courthouse Flat to the north. A marked track/route the whole way, making for pleasant and varied running.
Cross the bridge and head up either the stream or the ridge following a well-marked track. A short steep descent (`the staircase') drops you down into an eerie forest, a dry stream bed and eventually Granity Pass Hut. From here follow ground trails and markers up across a low pass, where you see Mt Owen for the first time straight ahead. A trail leads down past the tarns then up along and up the fissured limestone bluffs to the broad summit. The true summit is east (remains of a trig) and if you look closely you will see a large sleeping dragon curled up below you to the east. Return the same way (with the choice of the two tracks at the end).
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Features of interest
Interesting geography and bush, quite unique. The cast features on Mt Owen are particularly amazing - like walking on a heavily crevassed glacier, but of rock rather than ice.
Make Up of Run
Untracked / Route only: 20%
Technical Single Track: 40%
Moderate Single Track: 40%
From Tapawera drive to Tadmor and on to the Wangapeka River then up to Courthouse Flat (good spacious and flat campsite).
Plenty of parking at Courthouse Flat. Seems safe parking, and far from the road.
Although it's tracked, make sure you have a topomap and compass. Note where the trail enters and exits the dry streambed in a section below the hut so you are confident of following this on the return. In fine weather, there's no issue navigating the route from Granity Pass to Mt Owen (and there is a trail and cairns) but if cloud comes in take more care with navigating this section.
Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Beanie/thermal headwear, Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival blanket, Cellphone, Map.
Water at hut and various streams along the way
Will be under snow in winter.
Watch your footing on Mt Owen - the rock is grippy and it's not difficult, but take care not to disappear down a crevasse while you're gazing at the scenery.
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