Hello! I hope you all got out tramping a couple weeks back as it was a magical 3 day holiday weekend! 3 days is a nearly magical number of days for a tramping trip from Dunedin, since it allows a bit more flexibility for trips that are a little too far away for just a weekend. We decided to take full advantage and booked into the Copland track for the 25th and 26th. I actually did the Copland back in 2009, but Dylan hadn’t done it yet. And I had since heard about the amazing views up past Douglas rock hut of the Copland pass, so we were keen to check those out.
From Dunedin, we left Friday at 5 pm and camped at the Boundary creek car park (as the Haast pass is still closed from 6 pm-7:30 am). We got up early Saturday morning, heading through Makarora and getting to the Copland track car park (just south of Fox Glacier) around 9 am, and starting the track around 10 am.
The Copland is a popular track and Welcome Flat hut must be booked in advance. The first time I did it, in 2009, was prior to booking and there were something like 65+ people there. The hut sleeps 31, as an FYI. With roughly and additional 8 tent sites. In 2009, it was so packed we didn’t even get a proper tent site (oh, what a tramping newbie I was back then!).
You might be wondering why the Copland is so crazy popular. Welcome flat is built next to these:
Also, although the walk into welcome flat hut is quite long (18 km), the total elevation climb is only 400m and the track is more or less great walk standard. The river and bush in the area is lovely.
On Sunday, 3 of our party walked up to Douglas Rock Hut (8 bunks), another 9 km up the valley. We hoped the cloud would clear and we’d be rewarded with spectacular views of a beautiful basin, the Copland pass and the back of Mt. Cook but the weather did not cooperate. Instead, we racked up another 18 km total on a much rougher tramping track, and about halfway back to the hut started our usual shenangins. Fortunately, the hot pools were still waiting for us back at Welcome Flat hut.
Monday was the nicest day of the lot, and we had some glorious sunshine. Our goal was to make it back to the carpark by 4 pm (as we needed to be to Haast by 6 pm). However, some of our party got a rather later start than anticipated. Dylan ended up going ahead and catching a ride back with 3 other guys from Dunedin that we had met on the track and had an extra space in their car. Although myself and one other member of our party made it to the carpark at 3:50, the rest of the party didn’t make it back until 5:10, meaning we could not drive back to Dunedin through Haast. Instead, we had to drive north through Athur’s Pass. I arrived back to my car in Dunedin at 3:30 am Tuesday morning.
An important lesson to be learned here is to make sure you leave adequate wiggle room on your trips! Especially in those cases where you have to make transport by a certain time (many of the great walks!), make sure to leave plenty of adequate time! Especially if you frequently tramp slower than the estimated track times, as the last day your feet/legs/body may be more tired than you expected, blisters or other injuries could play up, etc. You just never know, so it’s better to be on the safe side.
Fortunately for future Copland trampers, the Haast pass is scheduled to re-open 24/7 from the start of November 2014.
For more information on the Copland track and Welcome flat hut, check the DOC website.