- Road end to Lower Junction, 2hr; Lower Junction to Salisbury Lodge, 2.5-3hr
- Salisbury Lodge (22 bunks, $15)
- From Cobb Dam Road
With a maximum altitude of just over 1300m, hummocky tussock lands and a choice of huts and alternative tracks, this Cobb Valley route should be possible in most winter conditions. The access road up the Cobb is single track in places and winds up past the power station to an information shelter above the reservoir. It’s advisable to carry chains.
Climb gently onto Cobb Ridge. Below, the glacially-sculpted valley is now flooded by a reservoir, providing head to the power scheme. The Cobb area contains some of New Zealand’s oldest rocks and is a mosaic of geologically complex interactions.
At the junction with the Bullock Track, it’s decision time. If there is little snow it is possible to continue past Peat Flat to Peel Ridge, Lake Peel and Balloon Hut (14 bunks, serviced). There is avalanche danger on this section, so if in doubt, head left up the Bullock Track.
This then descends through forest to the Lower Junction. Heading up river, more options from the Upper Junction lead to the Flora area. A couple of rocky overhangs at Growler Shelter and Dry Rock Shelter are best suited to summer-time trips. Salisbury Lodge (22 bunks, serviced) is named in remembrance of Thomas Salisbury, who climbed from the Motueka Valley side in 1863. Gold prospectors followed from the 1870s, leaving some evocative names.
Returning to the Cobb, there is an option at Lower Junction to continue through the old mine near Asbestos Cottage – the haunt of legendary Henry Chaffey and his wife, Annie Fox. These recluses spent nearly 40 years living in the area and Henry developed a reputation for carrying loads of over 32kg, often including a case of whiskey. What better way to warm the cockles on a clear winter’s night.