A fine foray to the coast
Nine trampers arrived at Westport Holiday Park on a hot New Year's Eve for five days of tramping. After organising our cabins and caravan we headed off to walk the Britannia track, 15 minutes drive north of Westport. From a farm road we followed a well benched and graded track through lush forest taking 1½ hours to reach the abandoned Britannia gold mine where a complete five-head quartz crushing battery stands just below the main track. A leisurely introduction for our holiday. That evening at the camp we were entertained by a selection of music by the Westport RSA Highland Pipe Band and then we celebrated the special night with a meal at the Buller Club.
Monday we walked the scenic and popular Charming Creek Walkway with half our group starting from the Ngakawau end and
the others from the Seddonville end, crossing over to our other vehicles. The track follows an old railway line from the Ngakawau end passing through a few tunnels alongside the swift and narrow Ngakawau River then crosses a long suspension bridge close to the spectacular Mangatini Falls. After passing through a 50m long tunnel we reached Watson's Mill and the wide open section beside Charming Creek. We eventually came upon Mumm's Mill site which including old relics of railway wagons, a large steam boiler and a log hauler. Not far on from here we reached the old Charming Creek coal mine site at the end of the track taking us 3¼ hours to walk right through. The rata on the coastal area here was in brilliant red bloom, surely the best display for some years. Before heading back we had time to do some beachcombing on the Granity coast.
Tuesday we headed to Charleston, 20 minutes drive south. At Constant Bay we walked a short loop track to the headland where a rough sea was sending breakers crashing onto the rocky coast. This small bay was used by ships during the height of the gold boom when the Charleston population was 12,000, larger than Westport now. We also walked across to the twin Joyce Bay. Next we drove 5km up the Nile River and walked up the lovely river valley on a short track crisscrossing a tramline. After 40 minutes we arrived at the end of the track beside the tramline terminal. While having lunch a tram load of passengers arrived for their caving and rafting tours so we left the crowd and returned down the track. After this we walked the Cape Foulwind Walkway crossing over from each end, going past the seal colony and the lighthouse taking us only 1¼ hours.
Wednesday we departed for home but stopped at Lyell in the Buller Gorge for another good walk. From the picnic and camping area we followed the track, which was an old dray road, past the old cemetery then crossed the Lyell Creek Bridge. The nicely graded track is part of the yet to be opened Old Ghost Road cycleway/walkway so has been upgraded recently. After 1½ hours we arrived at Gibbstown, which developed as the main town in the Lyell Valley and served the nearby Alpine Mine. The settlement comprised of miners cottages, a hotel, post office and school but all that is left now are a few small objects. We thought we would turn back from here but we all then decided to carry on to Zalatown. This side track climbed steadily above the valley track to reach a flatter area on a spur taking us 40 minutes, longer than the 25 minutes signposted. The only remains now are some broken bottles and a few relics as well as a few hollows, seemingly collapsed mine diggings. Some of the group must have wanted to complete the walkway circuit back along the western side of the creek and missed the track we came in on, and so they took 10 minutes longer returning.
Overall a good time was had by all without any days curtailed by rain, unusual for our club's New Year weekend trip. These camping trips can often be remembered by the smaller incidents or happenings. This one seemed to be the losing of bits of gear like a wallet 20 minutes back up a track, also hats and a set of keys, happily all found again.
The trampers were Robert Wopereis, Guilda Pegg, Val Latimer, Nigel Jones, Andrew Henderson, Pat Taylor, Julian Edmonds, Maria Brooks, Rob Merrilees and ex-member and now Westport resident James Mayer.
Author: Robert Wopereis
A rocky trail
Great views were had from Little and Big Rocky up and down the Wangapeka Valley. Once back at Jeff’s we indulged in afternoon tea before walking the Creek Track in Jeff’s bush. Each of us went home with a bit of mistletoe just in time for Christmas.
Jeff Lukey, Maria Brooks, Rob Merrilees, Juilan Edmonds, Robert Wopereis, Val Latimer and Sarah De Cent were on this trip.
Author: Maria Brooks
Land of lakes and tarns
On Friday afternoon we headed over to Trilobite Hut at the road end taking us 2¼ hours from Richmond. Nobody joined us for the night although the Golden Bay A & TC group paused for a chat on their way to the Tent Camp. The grapevine will be interested in the latest news about our Golden Bay member.
We were away bright and early in the morning, but the sky was rather cloudy, but this made for good tramping conditions. The Cobb Valley track is a fairly easy gradient all the way to Cobb Hut, passing through a mixture of beech forest, grass and tussock. We reached the rickety old Chaffey Hut in good time for our first stop amongst the friendly sandflies. Further on we were delighted to be serenaded by melodic bellbirds and overflown by a raucous kea. Soon the sun broke through the clouds, suddenly increasing the temperature as we strolled beside the river flats, some swathed in the brilliant bloom of buttercups. Looming up at the head of the valley was the long ridge leading to Aorere Peak, still with remnant snow pockets upon it, and adjacent to this was the towering ramparts of Xenicus Peak. We then reached the end of the Cobb Valley and came upon Cobb Hut resplendent in its bright new paint job. The hut has also had a fresh repaint inside and a small bench installed – good to see the upkeep done on this little four-bunker. Then it was a steeper grade beside a small chasm and waterfalls up to Fenella Hut, taking five hours from the start. The recent work on the last part of the track is a great improvement, giving a nearly mud-free surface. The 12 bunk hut is a favourite of many trampers, sited on a small knoll with supreme mountain views and its iconic toilet with coloured leadlight windows.
After a good long lunch break it was only a ten minute stroll to reach the scenic swimming hole tarn (no, we didn't go swimming). We continued along the track on the saddle with its excellent views then dropped down to near the outlet of Lake Cobb. The route from here was half on a boggy lake edge and half in the bush, to the head of the lake. After a quick search we found a signpost indicating a track of 40-50 minutes to Round Lake. The track steepened considerably coming out of the bush into a steep-sided tussock basin. But this small lake is nestled so tightly in the basin that it was not visible on the ascent until very close to it. This had taken us less than two hours from Fenella Hut and then we returned directly to Fenella stopping to chat to two trampers at Cobb Hut. In stark contrast to last year's club trip to Fenella jam packed with another group of eleven women, this time the only other occupant was one woman.
On Sunday we retraced the route back down the valley with some drizzle and breakouts of sunshine. We had a pleasant stopover on the way home for a coffee and chat at McCafe in Motueka. A good enjoyable weekend for Robert Wopereis, Nigel Jones and Arif Matthee (Christchurch Over 40s TC).
Author: Robert Wopereis
Kahurangi king conquered
Eight members and three visitors went on this trip to Mt Owen. There was a bit of a cloud hanging over us before the weekend and it wasn't the weather. Heavy rain in the area the week before had closed the road, but it was fixed in time for us. It was fine, cool and windy for the big slog up the ridge track to Billies Saddle and a lunch rest. We stopped at a lookout just below the saddle for a great view of bluffs and the upper Blue Creek valley with Sentinel Hill and Mt Owen behind. The steep pitches down the staircase slowed us up a bit, but we arrived at the hut in the early afternoon. After cups of tea and a well earned rest, we strolled along the Granity Pass valley to the drop-off to Granity Creek and returned to the hut.
Sunday was a perfect day for the climb to Mt Owen as we set off up the moraine at a civilised time. The cairned route through karst limestone had some of the group stretched a little. Further up, snow hid the main rock outcrops. This area can look a bit daunting to the uninitiated, so I had to reassure some of the group to keep going as I didn't want to split the group here. We found the main route again above a large snow patch and then it was an easy walk from here to the summit ridge where there was a choice between rock and snow to the summit at 1875m. A happy group had a long lunch break on the top in perfect weather. On the way down we went straight down the big snow patch to the karst area which seemed easier.
Monday morning it was fine but windy with bits of cloud moving fast over Billies Knob. I had hoped to split the group with some of us going over Billies but decided against it. This was the right decision as by the time we were up the staircase to Billies Saddle it was starting to rain lightly. We heard kaka calling and whistling as we went down through the bush. By democratic decision we went straight down the bush track to Blue Creek and did the short side trip to the stamping battery and resurgence. We were at the cars by lunch time, so we decided to have coffee and lunch at the Tapawera café. This was a very successful trip which was enjoyed by all, particularly for those who hadn't been to Mt Owen before.
On the trip were Ken Ridley, Jenny Symons, Oliver Steding, Jocelyn Winn, Chris Louth, Andrew Tod, Emily Gee, Jill Sheppard, Sue Davies (Nelson TC), Kelvin Drew (Nelson TC) and Arif Matthee (Christchurch Over 40s TC).
Author: Ken Ridley
Rare wildlife sighting ... and cave spectacular
A large group of 15 embarked from Flora carpark on a cloudy day. We passed over Flora Saddle and walked along the beautiful Flora Valley toward the fascinating Tablelands. Our first stop was at Lower Gridiron Shelter, a unique rock shelter. Playlunch lived up to its name with half a dozen trying out the swing which hangs from the rock. Overnight rain meant track conditions were wet but fortunately this brought out a few native snails on the track. The first one was found dead but the next three were alive and the last one of these was special. Just before Growler Shelter the sharp-eyed tailenders spotted something off to the side of the track. At first they did not realise what it was. Amazingly it was a WHITE powelliphanta snail, but otherwise like a normal snail with a dark coloured shell. At the shelter photos were viewed with the rest of the group resulting in that WOW! comment from everyone. This had made our day.
We emerged on to the grandeur of the Tablelands and then it was half an hour to Salisbury Lodge for our lunch. After this welcome stop we continued on up to the ridgeline of the Tablelands, passing the Leslie Junction then down to a grassy area at the head of Cundy Creek. Here we explored Bishops Cave – a short tunnel cave not far away from the track. After a steady climb up the flank of Balloon Hill it was only five minutes to Balloon Hut which had taken us about six hours from the start. Half the group set up their tents while the others took bunks in the hut, making sure we left half the bunks still available for any others.
Seven of the group headed off up the Peel Ridge, reaching Pt 1534, one hour from the hut, with good views of Lake Peel. Large amounts of snow were still remaining in the lee of the ridge, with the build up out a few metres. On our return we had some fun sliding down a steep slope and practising self arrests. We were lucky with our sightseeing because after returning to the hut the mist closed in. We were joined by another group of four trampers, making for a nearly full hut that night.
The trampers were Robert Wopereis, Bill Brough, Rob Merrilees, Maria Brooks, Guilda Pegg, Nigel Jones, Emily Gee, Chris Ecroyd, Julian Edmonds, Cara Morel, Katie and Christophe Greer, Val Latimer, Jill Sheppard and Oliver Steding.
After the trip, we sent the snail photo to the DOC snail expert Kath Walker, who described it as an albino powelliphanta. She had only ever seen one of these before but not as white as this one. Apparently the only species in the Arthur Range is powelliphanta hochstetteri.
Author: Robert Wopereis
A feast of trampers frolic on Starveall
A fine Sunday brought out a big turnout of 26 eager trampers for this peak on the flanks of the Richmond Range. Travelling up the Lee Valley we crossed the Mead Road Bridge and accessed the locked gate. The Long Valley Creek crossing was quite rough so the four-wheel drive vehicles we had were a necessity. This road climbed up steadily and was rougher on the last section, reaching a height of 900m, the third highest access road in Mount Richmond Forest Park. Just up along the ridge from the skid site carpark a sign indicated the way to Starveall Hut. A good bush track firstly dropped some way then climbed up and soon emerged into the mineral belt covered in a unique shrub and tussock vegetation. A steeper climb ensued soon resulting in a good view of our summit destination away in the distance. An easier sidle around a ridgeline quickly brought us to the Starveall Hut in a little less than two hours from the start.
This six bunk hut is well situated in a small saddle with good views, but we did not stop and all but two of the group carried on up to the summit. After a short distance the route steepens and traverses a rough rocky area where we came upon a good coating of fresh snow deposited the previous night. Cloud which had enveloped the tops meant we had very little visibility but we continued on reaching the easier gradient on the broad summit plateau. A few cairns indicated where the route descends on the way to Slaty Hut. From here we left the track and it was only about five minutes to where we stopped for lunch on rocks on the Mt Starveall summit at 1511m, 1¼ hours from the hut. After a few minutes some cloud parted like Moses and the Red Sea, bringing out the warm sun and revealing some good views. But the cloud didn't clear completely and came and went. Undeterred we carried on to more rugged rock outcrops further along the summit ridge taking about 15 minutes. By the time we had descended the snow had melted away, showing the strength of the sun. We relaxed beside the hut for a while before returning in quick time to the carpark. All were well pleased with the day's tramping.
Public access up this forestry road is limited to tramping clubs and car clubs and the cost is normally $2 per person, but because of the large group this cost was only $1 per person. A refundable deposit of $300 is needed for the permit and key, so a good bank balance was needed for the leader's cheque account.
The trampers were Robert Wopereis; Julian Edmonds; Dan McGuire; David Blunt; Christine Hoy; Jill and Murray Sheppard; Katie Greer; Oliver Steding; Chris Louth; Bob Renshaw; Ken Ridley; Georgina Rayner; Jenny Symons; Mike Locke; Emily Gee; Joy Bryant; Bic Huang; Lou and Chrissie Kolff; Peter Vella, Merrick Mitchell, Maurice and Katie Cloughley (Nelson TC); and newcomers Sarah De Cent and Cara Morel.
Author: Robert Wopereis
Beautiful beach backpacking
descent to the coast to arrive right on time for lunch on the beach.
After lunch we had a most enjoyable walk along the beach to the Mapua Wharf with a lot of goss covered on the way, and a stranded leopard jelly fish observed. At the wharf we watched the “Flat Bottom Fairy” - the new boat, load up with cyclists for the new ferry trip to Rabbit Island and speculated on what types of trips we could do in the future when the coastal track becomes completed. From there we spied the sad remains of the burnt out aquarium and then had an ice cream before returning to the cars by 3pm. Not a very strenuous day but it was thoroughly enjoyed by all.
The group was Julian Edmonds, Val Latimer, Mike Locke, Georgina Rayner, Cara Morel and newcomers Pam Bennett, Caroline Sharp, and Jill Weavers.
Author: Julian Edmonds
Due to inclement weather this trip was cancelled. In the Howard Valley tramp to the Loius Creek gold fossicking area and the historic Booths Cottage originally built in the early 1930's by Sid Booth. This takes about two hours and then a further hour on a marked but little used track takes you to a good lookout on the Porika Track 4WD road.
Author: Robert Wopereis
A marble mountain meander
Fine weather saw 13 souls set off from the end of Moss Road, having previously received permission from the two landowners for access. Amongst sheep and lambs, we followed farm roads at a gentle gradient beside Holyoake Stream up a small valley. After we passed through a double width gate, we turned right, crossed the small stream and followed a fence line, bypassing a gate and then carried on up another farm road almost hidden from view. The gradient steepened as we climbed up through shrub and small bush, soon reaching a nice grassy, flatter area for a stop. The outlook here to Tasman Bay was superb with the sea off the Abel Tasman coastline sparkling in the sunshine. The track soon levelled out and we were able to sight the quarry in the distance at the top of the valley. In the valley floor just below us we could see a creek resurgence amongst the marble country – a unique sight.
Just below the quarry we viewed the relics used in the extraction of the marble scattered around beside the farm road. This included saw blades, a boiler and enormous flywheels. Adjacent to this was a very pleasant pond tucked against the rock face, used as a water supply for the quarrying. Then it was a steep zigzag upwards passing a work shack and to the quarry itself, taking us 2½ hours in total. Gigantic smooth marble faces are visible with signs of the quarrying methods still showing, which included drill holes and marks from the cutting wires.
This Takaka Hill marble is at least four times as strong as that of limestone and has strength similar to most granite and was used in many significant buildings around New Zealand. The Nelson Cathedral is the most famous local building constructed of Takaka marble, as well as the Roman Catholic Church in Motueka. The marble was used for the Massey Memorial at Point Halswell in Wellington commemorating William Massey Ferguson, Prime Minister from 1912 to 1925. But it was most notably used for the reconstruction of Parliament Buildings in Wellington from 1912 to 1930 after the previous Gothic wooden buildings were destroyed by fire in 1907.
After lunch we meandered back and at the morning tea stop we decided to take a different route which linked back to the normal farm road. We arrived back at the start quite early so we tiki-toured to Kaiteriteri for a coffee at Shoreline Café, then carried on home. Another enjoyable day.
The group was Robert Wopereis, Julian Edmonds, Christine Burn, Mike Locke, Chris and Jo Ecroyd, Oliver Steding, Pat Taylor, Katie Greer, Cara Morel, Bic Huang, Graham Soppit and Peter Vella.
Author: Robert Wopereis
Plenty of red tussock, red hills ... & blue sky
All but two of us carried on up the slopes above the hut. This mineral belt country has only an odd few trees and is tussock covered and is always wet underfoot here. With hidden rocks amongst the tussock our footing up to the plateau was made harder. After 50 minutes we reached the trig on the plateau adjacent to some small tarns. The neighbouring peaks of the Beebys Ridge and Porters Ridge were well covered in snow but this area was more sheltered and nearly snow free.
The trekkers were Robert Wopereis, Donald Younger, Oliver Steding, Julian Edmonds, Graham Soppit, Andrew Henderson, Mike Locke, Georgina Rayner, Chris and Jo Ecroyd, Katie Greer, Pat Taylor, Colin Duncan, Rob Merrilees, Maria Brooks, Nigel Jones and newcomer Bic Huang.
Author: Robert Wopereis
Taniwha tales told
The two vehicles met up at Spring Grove, then collected the last passenger at Wakefield, and travelled to St Arnaud to fill in the intentions sheet and meet up with two ladies from Blenheim who were joining us for the day. It was nearly 9.30am when we set off along the track which heads down into the Speargrass Valley from the Mt Robert carpark. The weather was cloudy but calm and mild. The tree roots - and there are a lot of them in some areas of the track - were very slippery and needed to be treated with caution, but apart from this we had an uneventful trip to the Speargrass Hut arriving at 12.30pm. After a leisurely lunch and having seen the mother and daughter off on their return journey, we headed out at 2pm on the track which continues through behind the hut towards the Howard. On a reasonable track, it took us about twenty minutes to reach the top of the hill and from there it was all downwards. We soon passed out of the normal bush into an area of sparse spindly trees with much moss and lichen and about a kilometre of boardwalk over a very wet swampy area. We had a pleasant stop here on a seat provided as the sun broke through, enjoying views to the west and south. A first visit to this area for all of us. Some herculean types in our group cleared some snow-fall trees off the track impressing the rest of us greatly. We turned around at 3pm and returned to the hut by 4pm. Hot drinks were the order of the day together with the usual (or unusual) hut discussions filling in the afternoon. Later we were joined in the hut by a group of four young folks from Blenheim. Wine, taniwha (tales of) and cracker balloons filled in the evening. (You may wonder about the connection but it is best if you do not know).
Sunday was heavily overcast and one or two light showers passed over and it looked as if the forecast heavy rain may soon arrive. So when we left at 9am we were all wearing raincoats but as it was reasonably mild, we had just light layers underneath. The heavy rain did not eventuate and we enjoyed a pleasant walk back, just the odd bit of moisture falling on us where there was no canopy above us. What a surprise we received when we arrived at the car park and were assaulted by a very gusty cold wind and heavy rain. We were quickly into warm clothes and then huddled in the shelter to eat our lunch. We stopped at Chateau Rhubarb in Wakefield for coffee and got wetter getting from the cars to the café than we did walking from the hut to the cars.
The group consisted of: Guilda Pegg, Pat Taylor, Cara Morel, Nigel Jones, Oliver Steding, Julian Edmonds, and visitors Helen and Shannon (Saturday only).
Author: Guilda Pegg
A happy day for adventuring
We started walking just after 9am from the Cable Bay Road. The weather was perfect, with no wind. Due to logging, the route had changed a bit from the last time we did this trip, so we ended up going up straight some very steep skidder tracks, reaching the sky wire in record time. Some of the newer people found this part a little challenging, but we all made it, and had an extended morning tea, while admiring the view. We then went on to the lookout, where we enjoyed stunning views over Delaware Bay. Then more uphill (puff! puff!) until we finally reached the top of Blue Hill, and had a short bush bash to find a sheltered sunny spot to have lunch. On we went to complete the round trip back to Happy Valley Adventures. All was not plain sailing however, as we discovered an enormous beech tree had fallen over and blocked our way, and a fair bit of reconnoitring was needed to find the track on the other side of all the debris. Once we found the track again, there were huge sighs of relief all round, and we carried on, reaching the Happy Valley Café at about 3pm, just at the right time for a welcome cup of coffee and an ice cream.
On the trip were Christine Burn; Katie Greer; Pat Taylor; Oliver Steding; Val Latimer; Rob Merrilees; Maria Brooks; Lou Kolff and Chrissie; Julian Edmonds; Jill Sheppard; Guilda Pegg; Bill and Kath Rucks, and two children Eve and Miranda; Cara Morel; Chris and Jo Ecroyd; and Georgina Rayner.
Author: Christine Burn
A free helicopter ride and ice blocks for some...
20 Summits Event
On a fine day, a small bunch of five parked at the gate before the Maitai Dam for this tramp. A couple of days beforehand we had registered our names with the organizer of the rescue helicopter fundraiser and for safety reasons we had to sign in and sign out. We paid our $10 donation each and commenced the tramp. We were told that there was a prize of a free helicopter ride for the first person to reach the top, but we knew there were already some people ahead of us. Two other people about to start the tramp joined us, and we were glad of their company.
We set a steady pace up the Maitai Valley track, now made so much easier with the new wooden bridge at the junction of the Maitai Cave track. The track upgrade seems to have been completed up from the bridge, with a wide, well surfaced track – a stark contrast to the slippery, muddy conditions the club trip had encountered here three weeks earlier.
Once we passed the junction to the Coppermine Saddle, it was back to a very rough track up to the Dun Saddle. From the saddle was the steepest part of the track but soon flattened out on the summit ridge. We passed the Dun Shelter and arrived at the mountain top which took us 4¼ hours. While having lunch we enjoyed the scenery of the nearby snow-capped peaks of the Richmond Ranges, but had a few annoying sandflies to contend with.
Most of the other trampers on the event had already reached the top and were on their way down. But we were disappointed that the helicopter which had earlier landed at the top, had already left - obviously someone was having a free ride down. We returned the same way in a quicker time, as it clouded over. Back at the cars, while signing out, we were told that the helicopter crew at the summit had handed out free ice blocks - a double disappointment! Despite this we enjoyed the good day out and were happy to support a worthy cause, with a total number of about 26 of the public doing this event.
The group was Robert Wopereis, Georgina Rayner, Oliver Steding, Nigel Jones, Christine Burn and newcomers Sarah De Cent and Biying Huang.
Author: Robert Wopereis
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