Mt Owen Massif Trip Report - A goat for Christmas?


A write-up of my recent trip onto the Mt Owen Massif in NZ’s Kahurangi National Park is at the following link. Four SOTA summits, two days exploring an amazing karst landscape. And a Mountain Goat on Billy’s Knob.

Matt - ZL4NVW



You’ve given yourself a wonderful Christmas present.

Thank you for your exciting report and the great photos of this impressive landscape.

73 Armin

Brilliant report and congratulations on attaining Goat.

“Scrub-swimming” is a new phrase to me. Sounds like something you can keep over in ZL!

73, Fraser

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Negotiating the Marble Maze in the fog must have been “interesting”! :slight_smile:

Nice story line there Mat. Makes me want to visit and see it for myself. I could do one summit per day, perhaps?

I did look for you several times on 25/12 but was either 10 mins too late or propagation wasn’t friendly.

Congratulations on a very fast MG award. But doing it in a series of 3 or 4-summit days with 8 or 10 points per summit certainly eats up the points.

73 Andrew VK1DA/VK2UH

Thanks all.
@MM0EFI - NZ subalpine scrub has this ‘quality’. It’s intertwined such that you can’t push through it. It’s low to the ground so you can rarely crawl beneath it. And it’s almost (but not quite) supportive enough to walk over it. So you often find yourself sprawled bodily across the maximum surface area, crawling/swimming over the canopy of particularly dense patches. Not exactly fun!

@VK1DA - Yes - Granity Pass would make a wonderful place to base yourself for several days and is central for the 5-6 peaks on the range(s). Owen, Billy’s Knob, Culliford Hill would all be straight forward ascents from the hut (though untracked except Mt Owen). The sidle route to Lookout Range was hard to find, but once past that travel was easy - and there’s also a southern 6-point SOTA summit on that range too. Mt Bell required an ice-axe or other means of arresting on the steep route that I took.

Viable 10 pointers are very rare in ZL3. There are only 8 that have been activated, and perhaps 20-30 total that do not require real alpine gear and skills (i.e. roping up, etc - probably all need ice-axe and crampons). Pretty much all are single peak ascents from the base with no viable travel beyond the summit so typically need 1600m to 2000m ascent per summit from the valley floor. The only spot that I’ve found multiple 10-pointers can be achieved in 1 day (with reasonable ease) is Mt Alta & it’s 2 neighbouring summits. There are a few ranges in the 8-point altitudes that have viable travel along between summits. But mostly to string together multiple peaks along a traversable ridgeline with -150 to -200m saddles you’re down into the 4-6 point range where you are spoiled for choice in NZ.

The multi-peak trips do clock up the points. But they also provide a wonderful challenge in themselves. Hours spent pawing over maps looking at ridgelines for viable, efficient peak-saddle-peak sequences, identifying escape/alternative routes for tricky/exposed sections, nutting out the logistics of transport for through trips. That’s as much fun as the walk itself.

Add the fact that 3-4 day is enough time away from the pressures & stresses of work & life to stop thinking about all those jobs & challenges & responsibilities that you ought to be sorting out (instead of playing SOTA) and get to the point of living in the moment - living for the next summit, the next water-source, the next campspot. Liberating.


Hi Matt

This is just awesome. Thanks for the interesting report, and congratulatuions on your mountain goat. For me NZL is one of the most fascinationg places I have ever travelled. This was in 2017: 2 weeks North Island and 2 weeks South Island. I know we only scratched the surface. We can’t complain about our mountains in Switzerland at all, but “expeditions” like that just add another dimension to SOTA activations.
73, Fritz HB9CYX

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Beautiful landscapes Matt,

How to resist the call of the mountains?

73’ Alain