Ultramafic Magnificence – Geocache of the Week

by Tim+Jed
New Zealand
S 44° 33.235′ E 168° 12.560′

EarthCaches are a special type of geocache. They are not physical containers, they are geological locations where people learn about how our planet is shaped by geological processes and how we manage Earth’s resources. You can find them in many places — one might be at an easily accessible lake or a ravine in a forest near you. But then there are EarthCaches like our Geocache of the Week which is so remote that it took almost six years for someone to claim the FTF.

FTF marks the spot
FTF marks the spot

Ultramafic Magnificence is located on the south island of New Zealand on the boundary of Fiordland and Mt. Aspiring National Parks. The Red Mountain range in this area is made up of ultramafic rock, thrust up 10 km (6.2 miles) up through Earth’s crust by tectonic actions of the Indo-Australian and Pacific plates. This causes the rock to appear in isolated patches (ultramafic intrusions) which contrast dramatically against the surrounding, more typical alpine rock. Ultramafic rock is rich in iron, which gives the hills their distinctive deep red/brown rusty color, but is deficient in other essential minerals, thus no vegetation grows there.

About 30 km (18.6 miles) south of Red Mountain you’ll find ultramafic rock at Cow Saddle. As you climb over the col, you notice a striking difference between the ultramafic rock to the east and the more traditional rock to the west.

If this sounds like the type of EarthCache that gets you excited, there are a few things to keep in mind before you decide to embark on the journey.

The trek to reach the site of the cache takes three days, and you must be proficient in deep wilderness hiking. You have to bring all necessary equipment such as shelter, clothing for all weather conditions, cooking gear, food, and emergency equipment. You need to be able to cross a river, read and navigate a map, and be prepared to face harsh weather. There are no cabins or marked tracks.

So far the cache has been logged by five fearless geocachers and it is highly recommended to read the logs of their amazing journeys. Will you be the next adventurer to find and log this cache?

Continue to explore some of the most amazing geocaches around the world.
Check out all of the Geocaches of the Week on the Geocaching blog. If you would like to nominate a Geocache of the Week, fill out this form.