Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sawcut Gorge - a fabulous place to visit

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Want a wonderful adventure filled walk with wet feet? This is it.

Getting there is a little bit of an adventure and a very nice trip. Turn off State Highway 1 on the north side of the Waima River Bridge 55 km south of Blenheim. Sitting on top of a large tank is an old bicycle on top of a water tanks advertising Peddlers Lodge? Drive along this road past the well tended grape vines, including St Clair Sawcut vineyard. Continue on up the well maintained shingle road which follows the river and then winds it's way up the hillsides offering fantastic views of the valley below.

After opening and closing a few farm gates you reach the last farm, Isolation (an apt name) where on the last gate you find instructions on car parking and an invitation to complete the visitor’s book on the veranda of the house. Those with four wheel drive vehicles can drive down to the river, others have to walk.

After examining the information board and map we headed upstream for one and half hours and tried to keep our feet dry but it soon became apparent that to get there we had to cross and recross the river by walking through ankle deep water to keep to the marked track.

Walking along the rivers edge, climbing up the banks and walking on narrow tracks, boulder clambering or walking in the river this is just a delightful walk.
Starting out with small river stones which gradually got bigger the further upstream you travel until the boulders are about two metres tall.

Finally after just over one hour out of the trees comes a sign saying "Isolation Hut" and a track heading uphill. We went straight on for about 10minutes and the turned hard left up a very narrow gorge and about 20 minutes in we arrived at the Sawcut Gorge.

This ultra narrow gorge cut into the limestone somehow maybe even an earthquake caused it as major fault lines lie in this area. Walking through the narrow gorge in ankle deep water added to the sense of occasion. Out the other side into a narrow gorge clothed in native plants and a nice meandering stream.

Moving on up about ten minutes there is another gorge this one not so narrow. After that it is about. Ten minutes to Isolation Hut.

Returning to the car is all downhill. Following the large triangle markers this time we took the track to the Isolation Hut sign turnoff before heading down stream for an hour or more to the car. Visitors have made it a little easier by creating small cairns to mark the easiest way down the stream.

After signing out at the house and a quick word with the friendly farmer we were on our way along the. Narrow. Shingle road to State Highway One and a continued trip the Blenheim.

This great walk is well worth the extra effort of putting on a pair of boots, sloshing through the river, climbing over large boulders and generally having a good time in lovely pristine surroundings. Don't think you will be alone this walk is becoming more popular with about ten different parties walking into the gorge on a typical weekend day.

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