A Ridgeline Adventure

Posted on March 09, 2013

On a sunny morning, our driver, guide and owner/operator of Ridgeline Adventures Mark Orbell collected us from the Lodge. His sturdy and trusty vehicle being a long wheelbased Land Rover Defender took us to places completely inaccessible to the general public via private 4x4 tracks.

As I have lived here for quite some time and made an effort to know my new home-land, I thought I knew quite allot about the area – A day with Mark and I discovered I was quite mistaken.

A climb up out some of the most remarkable farming countryside in New Zealand into windswept tussock blanketed hill-sides put the Land Rover through its paces. We learnt all about the native flora and fauna, what was introduced and who by, and also the benefits of many of the introduced species.

It occurred to us when nearing the top of the hill we had climbed why Mark had named his business the “Ridgeline Adventure”. An adventure yes, and the view from our coffee & biscuit stop right on the ridge contributed to the best view I think accessible by any land based vehicle. We looked back towards the Wanaka Township some 20km away and also up Lake Wanaka over the islands of Mou Tapu & Mou Waho.

Mark, needless to say, has an incredible view from his office!

The decent over the other side of this ridge was toward the lake and Colquhoun’s Beach an early settlement with great significance to Wanaka and Mark even has some photography from ages passed that validates his unbelievable explanation of how people lived here.

Significant Maori sights are here too and Mark explains what Maori had to do to survive in these unforgiving landscapes. The giant Moa now extinct is also something Mark can tell you all about standing nearly 7ft tall.

The twisty 4x4 track brings us back to current day with a visit to a working wool shed. Here the process is revealed as to how that NZ wool made it to the jumper on your back or the merino thermals you rely on in winter.

A drive back along the road passing Glendhu Bay –I’ve been told one of the most photographed areas in New Zealand and the only place you can see Mount Aspiring from Lake Wanaka’s edge. Here Mark tells us of the efforts made by him and many other volunteers to control and maintain this incredible area of natural beauty and significance. The projects that Mark is involved in are namely re-planting indigenous species of plant that have been nearly wiped out by farming across the area.

Back to the lodge in time for lunch, we thanked Mark for a morning of absolute treasures – A man so attached to the area and proud to show it to those who care for it, and to those who were originally naive to it.