Two down, 19 to go in peak challenge

18:37, Feb 14 2013

Two brothers with the goal of climbing 21 peaks in the Nelson Lakes National Park in 21 days have completed two mountains.

Laden with heavy packs and a determination to conquer, Christchurch brothers Nathan Watson, 27, and Nigel Watson, 25, started their quest on Sunday.

The brothers have spent eight months doing hours of strength training at the gym and in a fitness regime that included trekking up hills near Wellington and Christchurch with heavy packs to prepare for the load they are carrying up the mountains.

The expedition, which involves climbing 21 peaks higher than 2000 metres, is the second of seven Sport New Zealand Hillary Expeditions for 2013.

The expedition is aimed at encouraging Kiwis to make the most of the outdoors, while raising money for and awareness of the Kea Conservation Trust and the decline in kea numbers.

Their father, David Watson, said yesterday the brothers were accompanied by a support crew of five when they set out on day one of the challenge.


At daybreak on Sunday, with the help of a farmer, they headed up the Matakitaki Valley in 4WDs and were dropped off at the confluence of McKellar Stream for the first leg of their journey.

On reaching the 2000m summit ridge of Mt Ella, their goal for day one, the party had to return to the basin for the night as the ridge became too unstable to travel safely. On following day they successfully scaled Mt Magdalene before they again had to go back down the valley for their food drop, which was left at Downies Hut.

Loaded with nine days' food and packs weighing about 26kg, they headed for Bobs Hut.

On Tuesday, their attempt to make the 2236m Faerie Queen was thwarted 100m from the summit by strong winds.

In total, the pair will cover 220km and climb a combined total of 16,000m over the journey.

To sponsor the brothers and follow their progress, go to their Facebook page: 21 peaks in 21 days.

The Marlborough Express