Danseys Pass provides an interesting unsealed route between the Waitaki valley and the Maniototo Plain of Otago. We had driven it a few years ago and stopped for a break at the Danseys Pass Coach Inn, an original hotel built in 1862, restored and extended in the 1990s. Looking for a place to get away from it all for Christmas this year, we decided to stay at the hotel for three nights and explore the area.
They put on a great Christmas meal for guests and visitors, and we highly recommend it as a place to stay.
On Boxing Day we needed to get out and work off some of that meal – so, SOTA time!
On the trip down I had checked out the access to ZL3/OT-360, an easy-looking summit adjacent to the Pass. My original idea from looking at the topo map was to start slightly east of, and higher than, the Pass and walk along the fenceline all the way up, but an initial look showed this to be thick with thigh-high tussocks, and speargrass cunningly placed between them. A closer look at satellite photos seemed to show a faint vehicle track running directly up the hill from the power pylon access track on the Pass. This was easy to find and follow (route shown in red below), and led us to easier vegetation to climb through up to the fenceline and along to the summit.
We briefly visited the summit proper for some great views, before setting up slightly lower on the western side, using the fence for antenna support. Contacts within ZL were difficult, those with VK on 20m somewhat better.
The walk down was just as easy, leaving the fenceline when the tussocks got too thick and picking up the vehicle track again from above.
Then off for a late lunch in Naseby, followed by a 16km cycle ride along part of the Otago Central Rail Trail. An active day.
Height: 1295m ASL
Directions: From the summit of Danseys Pass walk up the 4WD track between the two power pylons. At a point almost exactly between the pylons, a less distinct vehicle track sets off directly up the hill. Follow this until it peters out at about 1050m ASL, then pick your own way to the summit, avoiding slips on the left. As long as you remain on the west side of the ridge (roughly the fenceline) you are on conservation land.
Time to summit: 1.5 hours ascent (400m height gain) from Danseys Pass Road. 1 hour descent
Summit marker: None
Land access permission: Not required, Timber Creek Conservation Area / Oteake Conservation Park
Repeater access: Good into Oamaru 146.7, Waitaki 146.95 and National System 434.9
Cellphone access: Vodafone/2degrees 3G from the summit
Map: NZ Topo Map
More information: sota.org.uk