The best volcanoes are those that happened a long time ago, leaving their fingerprints to be discovered.
Post-holiday freshness. Energy, enthusiasm, perspective and patience. It seems a shame to go back to work and ruin everything.
A quick fix is to run for the hills. An emergency supplement from nature is just a job to make one believe that rejuvenation can be resumed and continued throughout the year.
Organ Pipes walk is close to town on the side road to Waitati. It’s only about a 45 minute walk one way, but the first part is really steep. That said, three generations have recently been seen doing it, from the elderly and playful grandmother to the baby literally in her arms.
After zigzagging through the bush, the road gently curves around the hill. A trackside rock bivvy evokes survival fantasies, but signs of dampness mean the reality would be grim.
Mist can embrace these hills as the resulting vegetation is classified as “cloud forest”. Mountain cedars thrive in mist. Their intricate, tight foliage catches the cloud and converts it into droplets that drip onto the roots below.
On a sunny day, the view improves once you reach the rock formation the trail is named after.
Initially, you are faced with a crisis of bits and pieces. But that’s just the rubbish that fell from the main event above. To look for. Columns of basalt rise skyward, just like… well, yes… the pipes of an organ. Someone nailed the name.
To overlook the top of the organ pipes is a short scramble on all fours up an uphill river of fallen rocks.
Go out and enjoy the outlook.
The columns are the exposed remnants of our founding father, the long-extinct Dunedin Volcano. From its depths, hot lava rose and pounded the air, slowly cooling then shrinking and cracking like drying mud. Hence the geometric shapes rather than a solid slab of rock.
From there, one option is to continue up Mount Cargill or just return.
The surface underfoot is generally level, although you will occasionally walk over semi-submerged pieces of fallen rock columns. Strong stages were built solidly, using the sponsor’s product.
– Claire Fraser