Photo by Rodney Meiklejohn
|Year first climbed:||Unknown, but European settlement commenced from 1854|
|Nearest major airport:||Dunedin|
|Convenient Center:||Kurow (to the north-east) and/or Oamaru (to the east)|
Thanks to Rodney Meiklejohn for adding this peak.
Mount Domett, which had its name officially corrected from 'Domet' in August 2002, is a prominent landmark on the North Otago western horizon when viewed from the coastal town of Oamaru.
It was named by Commissioner Walter Mantell on 25th October 1848 in honour of the prominent New Zealand politician, Alfred Domett. It would have been first ascended sometime after 1854 when the area went through an extensive period of European settlement. No doubt an ascent was made by a landowner or shepherd on an exploratory excursion into the range.
The peak offers a variety of year-round routes, ranging from interesting tramping ascents over rock and scree during the summer months from November to March, to moderate snow and ice routes in its gullies during the winter months from May to September.
Although not a difficult mountain to ascend, the St. Marys Range in which it stands, is notorious for the ferocious winds that rip across its crest, making walking conditions often unpleasant. Winter conditions are of an alpine nature so all necessary precautions must be taken during these months.
Mount Domett and the other peaks of the St. Marys Range are frequent objectives for tramping and climbing parties from Oamaru, although the peak is within day-trip range from the southern city of Dunedin, two hours away by main roads. Road access to the peak ends no closer than 10 kilometres, although further access on foot or by 4WD vehicle is possible over old, disused vehicle tracks (although often washed out).
Ascents are generally made from the south-east by way of the Otekaieke River which offers overnight shelter in the restored Chinaman's Hut, an old goldmining hut in the upper Otekaieke valley, 1-1½ hours walking time from the entrance to the Otekaieke valley. Access is from the Danseys Pass Road connecting North Otago with Central Otago. The ascent by this route can take 6 hours.
Another popular ascent route is from the north-east from the Kurow Highway in the Waitaki Valley, via Otiake and Domett Roads, followed by a 4-5 hour ascent of the peak of Little Domett (1860m/6104ft) before the further 1-1½ hour traverse across to the higher (by 75m/246ft) Mount Domett. Overnight accommodation is now available due to an elaborate hut established near the head of the the Lone Creek valley, at the base of Little Domett, 1 hour walking time from the end of Domett Road in the Waitaki Valley.
The mountain offers views of the North Otago and South Canterbury coastal plains and the Waitaki River and its hydro-electric lakes, to New Zealand's highest peak, Aoraki/Mount Cook, and the chain of the Southern Alps running south towards Mount Aspiring/Tititea. There are further spectacular views to the south and west, towards the Strath Taieri and the Maniototo Basin and the western ranges of the Otago province.
Be prepared for the relentless wind. A calm day is indeed a rarity!
Thanks to Rodney Meiklejohn for this description.