Located in the southern part of the Hunter Hills, 15 km northwest of Waimate is Mount Studholm, which this 4WD club decided they would dry and climb.

It was like four wheeling in Bing Crosbie’s “Winter Wonderland”. (If you don’t know it, don’t bother to look it up, you probably won’t like it!)

Deep, untouched snow. Icicles. Pine trees. Everything a newly minted South Islander could possibly want in a 4WD club trip. And a bit overwhelming for a first ever South Island 4WD club trip.

Because of the anticipated snow level the trip nearly didn’t go ahead, but with the proviso that if it got a bit too difficult we would come out early, the convoy of eight trucks headed inland from Timaru to the Waimate Forest gate, and with a forestry access permit, to the back roads that eventually lead to Mount Studholme. Not that we expected to get that far.

In the end we surprised ourselves with how close we got to Mount Studholme, but with drifts on the main access road nearing the top of the ranges exceeding a metre deep at times, we were forced to abandon our mission. By that stage we had our leader being winched from the precipice after sliding a bit close to the edge of the road, and another truck needing a winch from the water table on the other side of track about 100m back.

We had had enough fun for the day.

It hadn’t been easy, but it had been exhilarating. A bit of snow ploughing, a bit of shovelling, a bit of winching,  the odd recovery, and mostly a lot of teamwork had got us as close as we were going to get to Mount Studholme without a lot more of the same. Mostly the shovelling.

Even then it wasn’t a complete walk in the park getting off the highest point of the track, there were a couple of drifts in sheltered areas that still had to be negotiated, with care, some of the drop offs had to be 500m straight off the edge of the road. Sometimes it was hard to ignore.

Check out more pics in the gallery above.

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