Return to Dillon Cone - back for unfinished business

Damian Stones is a Mountain bike adventurer, Instructor and Guide.
Damian has been involved in pack rafting and mountain biking for 20 years and is Brand ambassador for a number of different companies, including Jetboil. See more of Damian's adventures on his YouTube Channel.

Jetboil cookers have been a key component of my back-country adventures, for a number of years now. Back in 2017, I did a trip from Nelson Lakes to Kaikoura using bikes and packrafts, the outcome was Waiau Toa Odyssey adventure film. On that trip, we had five people and only two Jetboil Micromo's the crew were super impressed with these very capable, compact cookers and their efficiency in sustaining five people boiling water for five days. On this trip, we ran out of time for one of our objectives to climb and ride off Mt Dillion Cone.

Mt Dillon Cone packrafting adventure

Photo credit: Dylan Gerschwitz

So back in the summer of 2022, a team of us went back to packraft the mighty Waiau-toa awa (Clarence River) and to summit Dillon Cone and ride some epic scree lines. The mission was unfinished business from the 2017 trip the outcome was this film "Return to Dillon Cone".  

So this last trip back to the inland Kaikouras lived up to all its expectations for being a very special adventure. 4 days in the hills and on the awa with some rad humans and the reward of finding some deep soft scree lines. 

On this trip, we had two cookers the Jetboil MicroMo and Flash 2.0 both were excellent. With every food break, our routine was to get the Jetboil fired up first! Our main source of food on this trip was the freeze-dried Real Meals so with 5 people equals lots of boiling water quickly and making coffees with a Jetboil coffee press. It was useful to have a couple of sizes of cookers on this trip, especially on the day climbing Mt Dillion Cone, the smaller MicoMo was great for boiling water for a quick warm meal and sunrise coffee on this massive hike a bike. 


Day 1 was straight to bike rafting to paddle down Waiau-toa awa to the base of Mt Dillion Cone to camp the night next to the unnamed musterers' Hut. I always do a double take when getting on the river when I see my trail bike strapped to the front of my packraft, but the focus soon changed as we had a very challenging gorge to navigate through combined with high river flows.

Mt Dillon Cone Hike a Bike 

On day 2 we started at sparrows fart to hike a bike to the summit of Mt Dillion Cone pretty much a 10-hour day. This day on the mountain was beyond expectations. The views from the summit were spectacular and the descent was even better dropping into some epic scree lines, it was a powder day on bikes.  The top of the mountain was like riding on moonscape it was super fast, big and wide down tightly packed gravel. The lower half of the mountain was a little bit trickier to navigate but rewarding wants we had found the gullies to descend. We got back to the hut just before dark for some well-earned dinner. The mountains in this area are absolutely massive you could spend weeks scoping out ride lines.

Pack rafting with bike on board 

Day 3 was back to bike rafting on the Waiau-toa awa. I was pretty pleased to give my legs a break and sit in a pack raft for the day. Cool to float past Mt Dillion Cone and get a different view from our descent the previous day. This was a big day on the packrafts with some challenging and committing white water, from previous trips this was the highest river flow I had paddled on the Clarence River. I was doing my best to avoid some pretty big holes, not easy when I was fatigued from the previous day.

Bike packing

Photo credit: Dylan Gerschwitz

On this mission, we travel through a diverse landscape from alpine gnar and scree to high country gravel roads. On Day 4 of our trip we switched to bike-packing to hump our packraft and camping equipment over the 1100 Blind saddle on the coastal Kaikoura's. 

Mt Dillon Cone adventure team 

Very special thanks to Deane Parker and Dylan Gerschwitz took charge of the filming and production of This film. Big high five to the rest of the crew; Sam ’Muel’ Jones and Rose Green.

Thank you to Dylan Gerschwitz for these stunning photographs from this memorable trip.

Watch the Mt Dillon Cone Adventure film HERE>>>