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Rob Roy bivvy rocks

18 December 2010

Coordinates 44°27.051′ S, 168°40.977′ E

Rob Roy bivvy rocks and Glengyle Peak, from the water supply. Photo Jaz Morris


A cluster of bivvy rocks in a boulder field above the bushline, on a terrace above the Matukituki River West Branch, at 1260m of elevation on the western slopes of Rob Roy Peak. At least 4 rocks have been turned into bivvies, offering indifferent shelter for 6 to 10 people. The most comfortable rock is the largest boulder, at the lower edge of the boulder field; it sleeps 3 or 4, mostly dry but not in a southerly. Three rocks higher up sleep one to two people each; only one overhang looks like it would be dry in any weather, on the downside it’s a claustrophobic hole that is too tight to sit up. A pot and a shovel are stored under one of the overhangs, and water is available from a small tarn 20m to the north. The Rob Roy rock bivvies are seldom visited since they are out of the way, and are really only useful for ascents of the west face of Rob Roy Peak, or of Glengyle Peak.

Taking in the views from the upper Rob Roy bivvy rock. Photo D Hegg


The bivvy rocks on Rob Roy were discovered by climbers, probably in the 1960s or 1970s; Paul Powell and Frank Cooper came across an overhanging rock after their descent of the west face of Rob Roy Peak in December 1954, but there is no way of telling if this was one of the rocks in use today [1]. The bivvies have been used by the guiding company Mountain Recreation for at least 20 years [2]. The track leading to the rock bivvies was also cut by the guiding company, and is locally referred to as “Geoff Wyatt’s track”.

Approaching the Rob Roy bivvy rocks. Photo D Hegg



Rating: tramping route, moderate                         November 2010

Rob Roy bivvy rocks map. 1 grid square = 1km. Left click to enlarge.


From Aspiring Hut in the Matukituki River West Branch, follow the track up valley to Shovel Flat. A couple of hundred meters out of the forest edge, the track descends small escarpments from alluvial terraces down to the river flat proper. Leave the track at the bottom of the escarpments and aim straight to the east to cross the Matukituki River West Branch in the middle of shingle flats. Once across the river, pick up a rough track in the bush, marked at the bottom with a well concealed orange triangle behind a fallen log, downstream of a large windfall area. The track is lightly marked with flagging tape and climbs straight up the hill until it emerges at the bottom of an old slip. Keep zig-zagging up the slip, bypassing two steps in the bush or scrub to the right (south), until hard under an obvious overhang near the top. Here the track exits the slip to the left (north) and zig-zags through the sub-alpine scrub before it peters out in the alpine tussocks. Aim diagonally up the hill in a northerly direction towards a cluster of large boulders at the toe of the obvious band of bluffs. Time: from Aspiring Hut to the rock bivvies, allow about 4 hours.

The main bivvy rock offers some decent bouldering, with Islington Dome in the backdrop. Photo D Hegg


[1] p99 in Powell, P. (1967) Men Aspiring. AH & AW Reed, Wellington, 183 pages

[2] p90 in Hersey, P. (2009) High Misadventure. New Zealand mountaineering tragedies and survival stories. New Holland Publishers, 166 pages.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Kyle Beggs permalink
    30 December 2012 5:56 pm

    Hi Danilo, thanks for the route description. It did however send us badly off route in the slip section as we followed your description precisely and went left at the first “obvious overhang” we saw. Unfortunately that overhang completely obscures a second higher overhanging section, and this didn’t become apparent until we were well and truly stuck in some very steep and difficult sub-alpine scrub! Can I suggest you modify your description to say “bypassing steps and an obvious overhang in the bush or scrub to the right (south), until hard under an second overhanging section near the top”. We did find the correct route on the way back down thankfully. All the best Kyle Beggs & Mark Hooker.

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