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April 2016 Issue
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Alpine Amphitheatre

Adelaide Tarn Hut squats above Adelaide Tarn. Photo: Ray Salisbury
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Adelaide Tarn Hut, Kahurangi National Park


Adelaide Tarn is arguably one of the most spectacular settings in the mountains of Aotearoa. The lakelet is cradled in an alpine amphitheatre, surrounded by a series of gnarly peaks named Trident, Douglas and Needle.

The effort required to reach this remotest of locations is offset by the jaw-dropping mountain architecture of rock and tussock. Here, the hills reach into the sky at absurd angles; none more so than the Dragons Teeth, just a couple of clicks to the south.

The easiest route is from the Aorere Valley, over Boulder Lake Track then up Arena Creek to Green Saddle. From here, a well-cairned route sidles south. This ground trail punches through tight scraps of bush, popping out onto sharp ridges which feature unusually-angled rock tors. Slipping through a rock gut named The Needle’s Eye, you will see the lake below.

You may want to bring a tent, as Adelaide Tarn Hut is not much more than a utilitarian garden shed with four anorexic bunks and a small cooking bench. The sole window looks north to Mt Clark.

If botanising appeals, the rugged ranges of Kahurangi National Park span an ecological smorgasbord, and this place is no exception. Speargrass and celmisia complement a gorgeous spread of alpine flowers.