Exploring the Potts River, Ashburton Lakes

Exploring the Potts River, Ashburton Lakes

Written by Mark Wilson of NZ Hikes...

In New Zealand’s mountain covered South Island there is endless potential for adventure. Valley after valley of pristine forest, bush and snow-capped peaks, each with their own unique beauty.

I will always be impressed with the rugged places the Suzuki Jimny can go. The little beast has kept my constant need for mountain environments to camp in fore filled. We are very lucky to have so many beautiful remote locations, perfect for the weekend warriors to drive too.

On maps a lot of places have marked tracks, but over time we have discovered that these ‘tracks’ are merely a rough guide as to where to drive when travelling in the mountainous terrain.

Potts River, Ashburton Lakes

My cousin and I have always enjoyed going on missions together, and after a few trial runs we organised a small transportable village which we can load into the Jimny, and drive to remote mountain locations. After ventures into the stunning and very rocky Havelock Valley, and the suspension testing Wilberforce River Valley, we now turned our attention to a far smaller and easier valley to camp in.

Just beyond Lake Clearwater Village is the Potts River. The river flows into the Rangitata Valley, and the deep gut of the river valley provides protection from the wind. Access was via an old farm track up the valley until it petered out where the river runs into a small bluff. For us it seemed too good to be true, as during the last couple of missions finding an epic spot to camp involved many, many rocks to bounce over, and rivers to cross and re-cross for hours. But surprisingly we found ourselves in an epic spot with very little effort!

After arriving it was time to construct the mobile village, starting with the trucks new side and back awning, along with the inside of the truck, serves as Adam’s tent/bedroom. As well as this we also had a marquee shelter, which covers my tent, and also serves as our cooking tent.

It is safe to say that when we head into the mountains we definitely go for the ‘Glamping Style’ of camping. For the gourmet camping meals we create, we use an excellent Weber BBQ, and normally the ‘camping meal’ of choice is a huge piece of steak and assorted vegetables.

We also have music in the form of a large bluetooth speaker, and this is probably the reason why we don’t see many animals when out on our missions. With music cranking and our campsite ready to go we now needed something to keep us warm, and that is in the form of another one of our legendary campfires.

To make this happen we traveled the grueling distance of ten metres to the Potts Riverbed, and collected driftwood to be chopped into convenient pieces for the fire using a chainsaw.

Although the forecast was for evening drizzle, turning to rain, we were treated to a clear night with a great display of stars, one of the rare times an incorrect weather forecast worked in our favour. As camping sites go it couldn’t be any better, and real world problems were temporarily put on hold as we enjoyed our perfectly cooked steak beside the roaring fire.

After an evening of whiskey ramblings we retreated for some much needed sleep in our own ‘bedrooms’, and during the night the rain forecasted arrived.

An early-ish start was greeted with the rumble of the Potts River, and increasingly heavier rain. Due to all the protection we had above us we were dry and happy under the marquee shelter.

The morning coffee and eating breakfast was really just delaying the inevitable soaking we were going to get once the defenses of the marquee and awning was removed. After a brief team meeting we made a plan, and put hoods up preparing for the rain, and set to work dismantling the 'City of Potts River'. Pack down went very well, and we managed to survive the ordeal without getting very wet.

Yet again we had another successful adventure in the New Zealand mountain’s, and we were both excited about the mobile village and its future potential.