|The Mt Owen massif, with Mt Bell and Mt Replica flanking the flat-topped Owen.|
|New Zealand mountain buttercup (Ranunculus insignis). The Owen plateau is rich with alpine flora.|
Mount Owen is the highest mountain in Kahurangi, at 1,875 metres. The Owen plateau is regarded by scientists as the finest example of glacial karst (weather worn limestone), in the Southern Hemisphere. It contains the longest cave system in New Zealand. All approaches to the plateau are on rough steep tracks. On day 1 we climb a steep track approximately 4 hours through beech forest, then drop down into Blue Gorge, and then into Granity pass (total time approx 6-8 hours).
The track ends here near a small hut, the only one on the plateau. We will base ourselves here or at a nearby campsite and spend one, two or three days exploring the untracked plateau with its towering limestone walls, tussock grasslands and moonscape like limestone formations. Weather permitting, the top of Mt Owen should be reached.
This area has one of the most diverse varieties of alpine flora to be found in New Zealand. Rare bird sightings may include, Rock Wren, Kea, Kaka and Falcon.
The return trip from Granity Pass Hut follows a slightly different route to afford new views of the remarkable Mount Owen landscape.
|A giant fissure in the karst limestone base of Mt Owen.|
Duration: 4 days
Fitness level: Above average
Fully serviced option:
Self catered option (minimum 4 persons):
4-7 persons, $1200 pp
8-10 persons, $1100 pp
"I had been promised an interesting experience on Mount Owen Plateau and I got it - cold winds, rain, snow! In spite of lack of warm weather we had a good climb up to Granity Pass hut. Finally, in sunshine on our last day. Bill and Colin gave me a wonderful experience climbing Billy's Knob. They both went out of their way to make it a unique experience."
Margaret Varley - Edinburgh
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