Great Nelson Lakes tramping
Six left Wakefield at 8am to catch water taxi at 9.30 to begin our journey up the Sabine and hopefully over Moss Pass and back down the D’Urville. By 10.40 we were on our way from Sabine Hut. Walking bush clad river valleys generally means some grassy river flats walking and some up and over bits where there are bluffy bits or washouts. Our first night was spent at West Sabine Hut. One couple tented. We set 8am as our leaving time for the mornings and generally we were on our way a little before this time.
Maria, Rob, Chris, Jo, Andrea and Robert above the iconic Blue Lake
Day 2, we recrossed the new swing bridge over the West Sabine and headed up on the right of the river and up to Blue Lake. This was mainly through bush but further up we had some open spaces with views. We knew SAR was coming in to Blue Lake that day to search for an overdue UK tramper and before reaching the hut we heard an Air Force helicopter overhead. It dropped off various search teams and once at the hut we had to gather for a briefing. Fortunately within an hour they had found him, but unfortunately he was deceased. After lunch we walked up to Lake Constance. The helicopter buzzed by taking out the search teams and going about its business. The day was sunny but the wind cooled us on the exposed bits. That night half of us tented in the shelter of the trees.
The steep ascent of the rocky gut up to Moss Pass
Day 3, with good weather, we began the climb up to Moss Pass. Three other couples were doing the same route. We saw two chamois before we got into the steep rocky chute that took us into the pass. The rocks were loose so we had to be careful not to dislodge any onto people below us. Generally we could go up against the solid rock on the sides. Great sights were enjoyed from the top. It had taken two hours to get from the hut to the pass. After a rest and refuel we began the descent down the D’Urville side. Firstly we crossed rocky bits but soon we were on alpine vegetation amongst the rocks. Once in the bush the descent became steeper. We arrived at the bridge across the river and rested for a bit before heading to George Lyon Hut. We had taken 6½ hours between the huts this day. One couple tented. The others occupied one of the two rooms. By now the weather was more overcast and some light rain had fallen.
Day 4 was planned as a short day and we reached Morgan Hut before lunch. Our guest from Nelson Club decided to team up with a couple that were travelling on to D’Urville Hut. We shared the hut with two other couples and rested and sat out the light rain. No tenting that night.
Day 5 dawned and it was again overcast with intermittent light showers. The track had some wind falls and washouts but these were all relatively easily crossed. Further down the valley were more grassy river flats. Again we reached the hut before lunch time. The water taxi was at Sabine Hut where it picked up our sixth person who had walked from D’Urville to Sabine Hut that morning. Before long we were collected and taxied back down Lake Rotoroa. Lunch was at the café at Kohatu. Hot chips and coffee were a favourite. By now it was pouring with rain.
A great five days of tramping and such luck with the weather enabling us to do Moss Pass and complete a circuit.
The group was Maria Brooks, Rob Merrilees, Chris and Jo Ecroyd, Robert Wopereis and guest Andrea Cockerton.
Author: Maria Brooks
Meander to mines
We booked the weather and the venue and we were not disappointed. An early 8am start saw us signing the intentions book at 9am and starting the tramp. A short steep grunt levelled out and dropped to the first river crossing. Graham took the opportunity to give us some river crossing training, SAR / MSC method. This involved mutual support in crossing and the "caterpillar" method of a group retreat from a river. Arriving at the Champion Smelter afforded a short break. The temperature was already rising; however the track was well shaded with good open views up the river. We reached the end of the 4wd track, now requiring a river crossing to the start of the United Mine track. The track was clearly marked but the gradient soon became very steep with 200 metres of boulder hopping to the mine site. A number of historic items, ore truck wheels, and mine equipment are displayed along the track. Upon reaching the base of the mine tailings dump, a sudden comment: "are we going up there?” affirmative! One step forward and three backwards and we reached the top. A brief fossick and geology discussion and we returned to the river for lunch. A fabulous spot with a small waterfall and inviting swimming hole.
Pauline, Graham, Alison and David enjoy a stop at Champion Mine
After lunch we returned to the Champion Smelter and located the track to the Champion Mine. This was the original ore train track from the mine to the smelter, strewn with sleepers and steel rails. The now high temperature prompted comments: “where is this mine?” Finally we arrived at 3pm. The mineral belt is very distinctive open and hot. A quick fossick and break then we commenced our return. Arriving at the short cut junction is the start of a steep descent to the Roding River. So far we had made five river crossings still with dry boots, but now with water up to our knees this changed and was a welcome relief of cool feet. Now we had an easy return, arriving back at about 4:30pm. Distance covered was 17 kilometres with a total climb of 510 metres. Those on trip were Peter Vella, Graham Soppit, Pauline Manley, Alison and David Mountford.
Author: Peter Vella
A wildlife bonanza
Cloudless skies, good valley walking, beautiful scenery, and completely uncrowded – what more could you ask for? How about good wildlife sightings as well? We had it all!
We collected the key from Rainbow Station and paid the $25 road toll for our carload of four. The Six Mile ford was in good condition but the gravel road was a little rough and needs 4WD vehicles.
From the carpark we crossed a swingbridge high above the swift Wairau River then after half an hour we negotiated another swingbridge across Lees Creek. The track is predominately in the bush at river level but often climbs about 10 metres higher. After 2½ hours we came out onto a large section of valley flats with brilliant wildflowers in full bloom. For a bonus we spotted good sized trout in each of two pools along the way. After half an hour of pleasant walking on the flats we re-entered the bush then it was an easy climb up beside a small bouldery gorge, soon emerging onto grassy river flats, a beautiful setting for the hut, 3½ hours from the start.
Lees Creek Hut in a beautiful valley setting
In the afternoon we explored up Lees Creek South Branch. This was a mixture of bush and river bed to negotiate at a good gradient. One hour up the valley we were excited to spy a mob of chamois on scree slopes about 50 metres away, unusually low down in the valley. As they slowly moved we counted them, surprised at the total number of seven. After several minutes they had moved out of sight into the bush. This was the highlight of our day. The valley was flanked by spectacular rugged mountains, looking so enticing in the bright sunshine. After two hours we reached the head of the valley at a junction in the creek then we returned. This creek is unusual in disappearing completely underground in a couple of places, reappearing above the creek bed as a fast flowing spring.
A fabulous group of chamois graze on scree slopes in Lees Creek
On Sunday we ventured up Lees Creek North Branch which starts at the top of the grassy flats, ten minutes above the hut. Heading up the true right of the creek we soon found an old unmarked track which was quite vague and slightly overgrown. We climbed steadily through the bush emerging onto a clearing, but not yet at the last bushline, about an hour from the hut. We retraced our route back to the hut and packed up and headed down the valley to the road, thrilled with the magnificent weekend. The group was Robert Wopereis, Andrew Henderson, Nigel Jones and Jill Shepperd.
Author: Robert Wopereis
Easy farm walks
Six members met at Wakefield at 8.45am and headed to Sherry River, collecting a seventh member on the way. It was raining lightly so rather than head up Little Rocky we sat and chatted. After half an hour the decision was made to do the bush walk now and then perhaps do Little Rocky after morning tea. We did the hour circuit in an anticlockwise direction, pleased that we were under the bush canopy, somewhat sheltered from the rain.
Meanwhile Jeff had arrived home from a bee excursion and had the fire lit so we could get dry. Over morning tea we decided to abandon the Little Rocky tramp and do a farm walk instead. Those on this walk were Maria Brooks, Rob Merrilees, Jeff Lukey, Jocelyn Win, Sue Davies, Jo and Chris Ecroyd and Val Latimer.
A family group (Keith and Marion Wilson; Marianne, Alice and Nate Brooks) joined us for the shared lunch, swelling our numbers to 13. By the end of lunch the sun was shining so we all did some more walks in the bush, out of the hot sun. The day ended with afternoon tea. Thanks to Jeff for hosting us.
That evening ten club members attended Wakefield Country Players dinner theatre, "Shenanigan's Wake". What a great way to relax, enjoying the entertainment and dinner. Those attending were Maria Brooks, Rob Merrilees, Ian Sowman, Pat Taylor, Guilda Pegg, Jeff Lukey, Chris and Jo Ecroyd, Jan Winter and Eddie Runge.
Author: Maria Brooks
A warm walk
A last minute withdrawal reduced the party to six for the trip from the Glen to Sentinel Hill above Cable Bay and return.
The day was very warm and quite a lot of sweat was lost on the uphill sections. Fortunately there was a sea breeze on the open parts which gave some welcome relief. We had the track to ourselves except for five mountainbikers who said they had got permission from the landowner. They were quite friendly and did not cause us any problems. We were back at the cars by 2.30pm where everyone felt it had been a worthwhile day.
Party members were: Val Latimer, Mike Locke, Ian Sowman, David Blunt, and visitors Annette Le Cren and Kelly Briggs.
Author: David Blunt
There were ten keen trampers who took part in the cross-over trip to Balloon Hut. The first meeting point for eight of us was in Richmond at 7.15am where cars were swapped over and we took off with one car going towards Graham Valley and the other to the Cobb.
The car going towards Graham Valley stopped twice to pick up two more of the party. We had perfect weather as we headed towards Flora Hut and that weather stayed with us for the entire weekend. One fantastic thing about the trip was seeing the amazing spring blossom out - there was Beech flowers, tiny little native iris, buttercup, and daisy, impossible to name them all; even the Spaniard looked good with its flowers. The pollen coming off the Beech trees looked at first as if there was smoke coming from the trees; huge great puffs of pollen going high into the sky. We stopped just short of Growler for a morning cuppa while sitting on the side of the track by the first swing bridge being entertained by the antics of Robins. One of our party commented on the funny long skinny legs the Robin has, but decided it was to keep their lovely long tails out of the mud.
We carried on towards Salisbury, with the gentle gradient and the nice wide track it was easy to look around and enjoy the surroundings and all the bird song we could hear. Lunch spot was again on the track opposite the rock shelter just before Salisbury where the track comes out of the bush and into the open tablelands for the rest of the trip. After lunch we carried on, but detoured around Salisbury Hut and took the Starvation Ridge track to take advantage of the great scenery and arrived at Balloon around 3.30pm (½ hour after the other group).
After a very pleasant night at the hut with all 10 of us, the next morning the group split again and our group started off on the track towards the Cobb. It is a lovely walk starting on the easy gradient towards Mt Peel and looking back at Balloon Hut tucked amongst the bush. Half way up the hill we could look down into the Karamea Valley (which was totally blanketed in cloud), ahead of us and slightly to the left was Mt Peel with the last remnants of snow. Coming over the ridge we could see tarns to the left and Lake Peel to the right below us. We stopped at Lake Peel for a rest and decided with the huge rock overhangs on the other side of the valley that this would not be a great place to be in an earthquake.
Again, half the trip is out in open space along ridges - the other half in bush; a great combination. On one part of the walk in the bush, three of us had the experience of just standing quietly on the track and observing the amazing amount of insect and bird life that takes place when trampers aren’t thumping their noisy way through. We made it to end of the track at Myttons hut where we had a leisurely lunch; at the end of a trip it sometimes seems like leaving one world and entering another - that may account for why no one seemed in a hurry to get back to the car.
The group from Flora end were: Katie Greer, Christophe Greer, Maria Brooks, Rob Merrilees and Bill Brough.
The counter attack group from the Cobb end were: Nigel Jones, Chris and Jo Ecroyd, Pat Taylor and Jocelyn Winn.
It was an idyllic start across the grass from the Cobb Reservoir in perfect weather. Bulbinella was ready to flower and an odd cinebar moth fluttered amongst the ragwort. Having breakfasted early, we were ready for morning tea at Myttons Hut before our climb up through the bush. Above the bushline, the first alpine flowers were appearing. We lunched on the Cobb ridge where a lone kea flew overhead. After another spell at Lake Peel, we continued along to Balloon Hut to relax for the afternoon.
Next morning, we left early so plenty of time to appreciate the alpine beauty, especially the dense cloud filling the Leslie-Karamea valleys. We had morning tea at Salisbury Rock Shelter and an early lunch at Gridiron Rock Shelter. A few empty powelliphanta shells lay beside the track, also a good show of the native iris – Libertia (thanks Chris). Both days, we were impressed by the prolific beech flower making this a mast year, which does not bode well for our native birds after the rodents have all feasted.
Well, we walked, but maybe we talked more!
Authors: Katie Greer/ Jocelyn Winn
On the Tablelands with Gordons Pyramid behind
Fantastic mountain scenery
This was scheduled as a crossover trip but as the through route for trampers was not yet open, six people were still keen to go in and out from Lyell. With fine weather forecast the huts were booked four days in advance. From the new Old Ghost Road carpark at Lyell we crossed a new swingbridge and started on the 18km trek to Lyell Saddle. The first part of the track was originally constructed in about 1885 as a County Dray Road. Later the road continued toward Lyell Saddle but reduced to a pack track. The wide well-surfaced track climbed steadily, sidling into some small creek crossings through beech forest. At the precipitous earthquake slips there is a good view to the saddle but is still 1½ hours away. The gradient gradually eased off from the Eight Mile Creek and we eventually reached Lyell Saddle Hut after nearly six hours. The hut has five bunks in the main area and another room with six bunks. Nearby are two sleepouts with a capacity of four each. Directly out over the spacious veranda is a splendid view of the Glasgow Range.
Saturday was misty and cloudy as we set off the 16km to Ghost Lake Hut. The first half of this section is a climb of eleven long zigzags up through the bush to the crest of the Lyell Range. This newly constructed track is up to two metres wide and the surface varies between smooth to stoney and has a very steady gradient. We neared the bushline and emerged from the murk to bright blue skies but still some mist coming up from the west. After passing west of Bald Hill the track sidled east of the innocuous Mt Montgomery to the view of the stunning rugged Rock Tor, the high point of the range. Sidling to the west of this sharp peak the well surfaced track changed to a rougher and narrower track along an 800m long section where cyclists have to carry their bikes. Some criticism of the track construction has been the down-slope debris and this was very noticeable in the next section. Then 40 minutes downhill we suddenly rounded a corner to the sight of the new hut and below in a basin the small tarn of Ghost Lake. The spectacularly sited hut sits about 10 metres away from a sheer 100m bluff. It is nestled just below the top of the range at an altitude of 1200m and the views to the north and east are simply unbeatable. From the Thousand Acre Plateau and Mt Owen on one side, to the Nelson Lakes ranges on the other side lies a myriad of ranges to be identified as well as Murchison clearly visible in a valley 17km away. As it was only 3½ hours to the hut, we had spare time to explore down past the lake and follow part of the rough route to Stern Hut. We dropped steeply to a creek then climbed up to a ridgeline for good views then returned. Later on three keen people climbed up the ridgeline above the lake for more spectacular views. The hut is semi-partitioned into three bunkrooms for a total of 12 bunks and was full that night with seven cyclists also sharing the hut.
Fantastic scenery from Ghost Lake Hut on top of a sheer 100m bluff
Sunday was fine and with only a short day to get back to Lyell Saddle Hut we also climbed three peaks. First we headed directly above the hut to a highpoint to a grand view of the Glasgow Range. We descended back to the hut and packed up and returned back along the track. We enjoyed more superb sights, some of which we had missed on the previous day because of mist. The climb to Mt Montgomery was only ten minutes above the track and is only a tussock dome. But Bald Hill is a more prominent peak and this was a steady 30 minute climb up a tussock ridge. Here we could easily see the hut at Lyell Saddle 500m below, also we had some discussion on some distant mountain peaks. Then it was back down the steady zigzags to Lyell Saddle Hut for the night.
Monday one commented “Not another fine day!” as we set off to Lyell in quick time. We were all keen for some good food so a stop for lunch in Murchison was very welcome. Overall, fantastic mountain scenery, very accessible and highly recommended. Wildlife seen on our trip included kaka, kea, morepork and goats. The group was Robert Wopereis, Jill Sheppard, Nigel Jones, Andrew Henderson, Ken Ridley and David Mountford.
Author: Robert Wopereis
Ben Nevis – 3 November 2013
Not all 20 of us knew ‘Ben’ is the Scottish name for a mountain peak, and interestingly only about three mountains in the Nelson area are named ‘Ben’ rather than mountain.
Turning off at Brightwater, we headed up Wairoa Gorge Road then along the Left Branch and up Boundary Road to the first carpark, which has recently been extended and can fit a handful of cars. We set off up the very steep 4WD road, so we were soon puffing. The first part of the track climbs steadily up a partly open ridge and we soon passed a dirt helipad with two tracks leading off it – part of the private Wairoa Valley MTB park. Entering bush the gradient eased off, then after an hour from the start we emerged out of the bush, just below Gibbs Spur for a welcome break. Presumably Gibbs Spur is named after Fred Gibbs, an energetic tramper and headmaster at Nelson College, who led groups of school boys in this area. We traversed the undulating ridge often sidling rock outcrops alternating with sections of bush. Then we climbed more steadily and soon emerged out of the bush for the final climb to the summit trig. This had taken us 3¼ hours altogether.
Ben Nevis trig looking toward the Red Hills
Although the day was fine, a build-up of cloud soon obscured the sun and a brisk northerly wind made it feel very cold, making us put on extra layers and gloves for some. A slight plague of tiny flies crawling over our gear added to our experience at the summit, but we did enjoy sparkling views of Tasman Bay to the north and to the Red Hills and the Gordon Range to the south. By the time we had descended back into the bush we had warmed up again and could strip off some clothing. When we returned to the carpark we had finished a very enjoyable 6½ hour day, especially for eight of the group who had not been up here before.
The group was Robert Wopereis, Graham Soppit, Pauline Manley, Alan Hart, Jill Sheppard, Rob Merrilees, Maria Brooks, Julian Edmonds, Geoff Walker, Georgina Rayner, Katie Greer, Hairta Eger, Pat Taylor, Andrew Henderson, Merrick Mitchell, Jan Winter and newcomers David and Alison Mountford, Colleen Elvines and David Glover.
Author: Robert Wopereis
A snowy spectacle
The last event for our 40th anniversary was in the Nelson Lakes area, one of our club’s favourite areas. Good weather was forecast but as the twelve of us were travelling through Golden Downs some rain put our trip plan in doubt. But pleasantly up at Mt Robert carpark it was fine with a bonus of several centimetres of overnight snow well down into the bush. Heading up the Pinchgut Track the combination of snow smothered bush and a bright sunny day made for stunning scenery. At Bushedge Shelter we all scoffed the last pieces of the club’s birthday cake, a welcome addition to our morning tea, before we continued on our way. On the exposed Robert Ridge we needed to stop to rug up with extra layers because of a cold breeze and at the same time chatted to several other trampers enjoying Labour Day. Just after Relax Shelter we headed down Paddys Track a short distance to Bushline Hut to enjoy a leisurely lunch. We were told about the snowman children had built next to the hut but this had collapsed by the time we had arrived. Then we continued down the well surfaced Paddys Track zigzagging across the broad shoulder of the mountain. We all thought that doing the circuit anti-clockwise gives better a view of Lake Rotoiti. We were delighted with the day’s outing and finished it all off with coffee at the new Clinker Café at St Arnaud.
Paddys Track on Mt Robert with the scenic view of Lake Rotoiti behind
The party was Robert Wopereis, Graham Soppit, Ken Ridley, Geoff Walker, Christine Burn, Chris and Jo Ecroyd, Val Latimer, Peter Vella, Bob Dickinson, Merrick Mitchell and Nigel Jones.
Author: Robert Wopereis
All round views
We set off up the road from where we parked our cars in warm sunny conditions. There had been recent heavy rain and flooding and there was lots of water in the creeks, and we soon came upon a drowned goat which had been washed into the water table. It was quickly dispatched by two of the group to a more inconspicuous resting place in an adjoining paddock, and we carried on up to Wratts Hut, where we had morning tea. We then headed left to a large tree, and continued on up the four-wheel drive track, where we saw some fine examples of clematis in flower. At the top of this track there is a well-appointed private bach, which we had a good look at, and one member even opened the unlocked door. The next moment, police sirens were heard! Was the local constabulary coming up the track? No, it was Julian’s phone! After that little warning, we deemed it wise to continue on our way through the bush to the rocky lookout point. Here it was decided to split the group, with some preferring to sit in the sun here and have lunch while gazing at Mt Tapuae-o-Uenuku, and the others continuing on to the top for lunch. The first group continued onto the top after lunch, and group photos were taken before heading down through the bush to a lodge which looks out over Tasman Bay.
On Mt Campbell with Mt Arthur in middle background
After a brief break and photo session, we went down through the bush via a different route, and had afternoon tea on reaching open country, then back to the cars, with some electing to take a shortcut across a creek and a bit of a bush bash.
On the trip were Christine Burn and Katie Greer (leaders), Robert Wopereis, Pat Taylor, Julian Edmonds, Jan Winter, Jill Sheppard, Jo and Chris Ecroyd, Maria Brooks, Rob Merrilees, Georgina Rayner, Joy Bryant and Geoff Walker.
Author: Christine Burn
History and scenery
On a beautiful spring-like morning, 17 keen trampers were at our Richmond meeting place for an 8.00am start. We had a short wait to see if two additional visitors were going to join us; they had forewarned me they may not be able to join us, sadly they didn’t - so it was off in a four car convey towards Marahau. We turned off the Marahau Road at Moss Road and drove to the farm house at the very end, where Peter met up with us here; so that made 18 keen trampers all ready to go by 8.45am.
The first 20 minutes of the walk is on a farm road, from there you have choice of continuing on the road towards a river crossing and into bush, or taking a rougher track to the right and heading uphill to bypass the river. We took the track to the right, which was a moderate gradient through bush and farmland that had been the old track the marble was carted out on. On one of the corners, there was a very large piece of marble laying there that apparently came off the trolley as it was being carted out back in the 1914s. They had no way of getting it back on the cart, so it has just stayed there ever since.
We got to the top of a hill just a bit past 10.00am, the view was down was over farmland and bush and over to Sandy Bay. We took advantage of the slabs of marble that made excellent flat seats and had morning tea in beautiful sunshine. From here the track again is a moderate gradient up to the quarry site that the marble for Parliament Buildings came from; the marble actually from the pond in the area now called “Parliamentary Pool”. There is a lot of interesting old machinery there that had been used from 1914 onwards that we spent some time inspecting. We had an unexpected bonus when Dave and Wendy Henderson (the owners of the property) met up with us; it seems that Wendy has written the history of the area and the publication “Pooled Resources” is for sale at the café at the top of Takaka Hill. Wendy’s knowledge of the area is amazing and just hearing her talk of the huts that the workers lived in, the conditions they worked in was such a contrast to the wonderful peace and quiet of the area nowadays. From there it is a short walk up a slightly steeper farm track to an area above the most recent quarry where we had lunch.
Flywheels for the steam powered machinery at the old marble quarry
The homeward leg of the trip was mostly through bush on a well formed track that didn’t require too much attention as to where one placed their feet - the result of this relaxed tramping was lots of cheerful and interesting conversations throughout the group. We arrived back at the cars around 3.00pm, and drove back to Motueka where we all met up again at TOAD Hall where we enjoyed coffees / smoothies / icecreams (the usual hard core tramping food).
On the trip were Katie Greer, Christine Burn (leaders), Graham Soppit, Pauline Manley, Annette Gill, Geoff Walker, Peter Vella, Julian Edmonds, Mike Locke, Noelene Roberts, Georgina Rayner, Jill and Bob Dickinson, Jo Ecroyd, and visitors Alison and David Mountford, Jan Winter and Steve Markham.
Author: Katie Greer
History, good company, and bad feet
Ten of us met at Millers Acre carpark at 8.00am with the weather promising to be excellent. We split into three car loads and a ten minute drive away and we were at the Brook Sanctuary. So with a quick change into boots and a sort out of the packs, we were on the track towards Third House by 8.20am. The first part of the trip is the steepest with a continual but moderate climb until you get to the area known as “Four Corners”, from there the track levels of to a gentle gradient. We stopped at Third House for a cuppa about 10.15am. It was interesting to see the new historic marker pegs on the track identifying where Second House and the Lime Kiln had been. Also the information panels on the track give a really great insight into the history of the area. There was discussion on where First House was located on the track, but Christine informed us that it was actually the old railway station down in Brook Street.
From Third House we headed left towards Windy Point. Once again the area lived up to its name and having been walking in calm, warm and sunny conditions, the wind picked up and was really blowing hard and cold by the time we were on the point. We carried on from here towards Coppermine Saddle and on the way spotted an old mine entrance that most of us climbed up to inspect. From the amount of mine tailings on the other side of track, the mine must go back a fair distance; although it would now be near impossible to gain access as the entrance is nearly covered with rock fall.
The group pose at Coppermine Saddle, part of the Dun Mountain Trail
The wind was still blowing hard as we reached Coppermine Saddle by 12.30pm. We found a sheltered spot behind some large rocks and hunkered down for lunch. Our view was over to Dun Mountain, or down to the caretaker’s house at the Maitai Dam. There was one other view that was too much temptation for Robert and great entertainment for us; that was a nice tall rock all on its own. Robert climbed to the top and we all thought he was going to blown off in the strong wind - fortunately, he wasn’t.
Lunch over we stopped for a group photo at the sign, then headed back to Third House where we arranged to regroup. One of the party had feet trouble and their progress back was slow and painful. The group split up at Four Corners, with some taking the steeper shortcut down the Brook, and the rest of us taking the more sedate route escorting the footsore member of the party.
We finally arrived back to the cars by 6.15pm only to find that the gates had been locked an hour earlier, but we arranged to get them unlocked and made our escape after a long nearly 10 hour day.
On the trip were Katie Greer (leader), Jo Ecroyd (co-leader), Val Latimer, Robert Wopereis, Georgina Rayner, Christine Burn, Andrew Henderson, Joy Bryant, Julian Edmonds, and visitor Jan Winter.
Author: Katie Greer
A stroll in the forest
Five of us met in Richmond at 9.30 am and made our way out to Wakefield, then to Wai‑iti Domain and got out of the cars in a very light drizzle. After having a quick morning tea, we made our way up the gentle incline through the pine trees on the right hand side of the forest block. It wasn’t long before we came to an area where logging had been taking place, and the view to our right was bare land, felled trees and logging debris. That doesn’t sound like the best sort of tramping conditions, but it did allow a view of the area that is usually blocked by the pine plantation; and the forest area is a lot more expansive that we realised. We spotted a caterpillar (the tracked, not furry kind) and made our way down a steep and very bumpy track to check it out (actually the blokes were more interested in seeing it). Our bridge building skills were utilised as one of the larger ditches of water was a bit of a challenge to some.
Lunch was had under the huge old pine tree looking out to Ben Nevis in full sun. By the time we had finished, the clouds had obscured Ben Nevis and were coming towards us looking very black. The walk back was in amongst the trees again and we arrived back at Wai‑iti Domain in a very light drizzle. A quick trip back to Wakefield where we all me up at the tearooms for a coffee, and we were joined by Maria and Rob.
On the trip were Katie Greer, Pat Taylor, David Greer, Ian Sowman and Noelene Roberts.
Author: Katie Greer
Mineral Belt crossing
A brilliantly fine spring morning greeted five trampers setting off from the gate before the Maitai Dam. We were glad of the flat going for the first hour to be able to warm up slowly. After crossing the new wooden bridge over the Right Branch Maitai we increased climbing, especially when the track starts zigzagging uphill. We were surprised to walk through a large area of burnt scrub on the mineral belt. The area looked black and barren with a lingering burnt smell, although clumps of grass were starting to sprout new green growth. The track plateaus going under Dun Mountain, then climbs again toward Dun Saddle. The section of track from the Coppermine Junction up to Dun Saddle was a complete contrast to a good surface before, and now had sections of rock and boulders more like a riverbed than a track. At the saddle the cold SW wind did not offer any respite anywhere around the big rock outcrop, so we did not linger long. The hut was a further hour along the Bryant Range, mostly through bush, but also areas of vibrantly coloured rocky mineral belt. This had taken us six hours altogether. The spacious 16 bunk hut is the biggest in Mt Richmond Forest Park, but must be a complete contrast to the previous smaller huts built here in 1956 and 1935.
About to set off from Rocks Hut on a fine spring Sunday morning
After a rest, three of us walked up to a lookout point 15 minutes up a signposted track to the flat top Bryant Range with fabulous views across to the Richmond Range. It was a cold night but cosy in the hut with the fire burning, with some good firewood we gathered on the way back from the lookout. Two people joined us at the hut but they did not arrive until at least an hour after dark! They said they did not expect to arrive so late but were careful to disturb us, even those of us that were already asleep. The next day was again fine and frosty as we headed back over the saddle and down the Maitai. We enjoyed a great weekend, especially for one person who had not been here before.
The fab five were Robert Wopereis, Merrick Mitchell, Margaret Carpinter, Pat Taylor and Jill Sheppard.
Author: Robert Wopereis
An optimists outing
“To go or not to go?” that was the question. Plan C of reading a book by the fire was rather tempting as a steady drizzle fell and the forecast was not encouraging. But what are raincoats for? So rather optimistically we drove off.
To our surprise, up at the lake the rain had passed by and it was fine. After a brief call at the Visitor Centre we parked at West Bay. Fresh snow had fallen on the tops, and the wind blew cold so we knew it would be stronger and colder up on Robert Ridge, so Plan A was abandoned and Plan B was implemented. The pre-amble was along the Moraine Walk, up Black Hill, along past Rotoiti Lodge and down the track to connect with the Peninsula Walk. Back at West Bay, we had a late-ish morning tea sheltering by some manuka as we warmed up.
Next, the business of Plan B continued by joining up with the Moraine Walk beyond the camping ground, and then followed by the Anglers Walk to the Buller Bridge and crossing the road into Teetotal. Then was a somewhat tedious 2km or so gravel road bash. But up on the St Arnaud Range, we saw the spindrift off the snow and the clouds racing by, confirming we were better off lower down. Soon after we had turned off onto a forestry road, we found a gravel quarry to shelter in for lunch. Further up the road was the Big Bush cycle track, then a ten minute grunt found us up in the beech forest on the ridge. Why weren’t we meeting any cyclists? The reason was that several good sized trees had fallen in a storm a few weeks ago. The undulating ridge was very pleasant open beech and we enjoyed bountiful bird song, thanks to the efforts of trappers, but there was two possums hanging from traps awaiting them.
Our slippery descent saw us dancing the light fantastic as we strived to maintain our upright dignity. As we crossed the flats to the skating pond, the rain tried to get the last word, but weak sunshine prevailed. We were back at the cars after nearly a seven hour day. Our GPS experts reckon we had done approximately 22kms.
The optimists were Jocelyn Winn, Graham Soppit, Mike Locke and Robert Wopereis.
Author: Jocelyn Winn
Around and about Abel Tasman
With the promise of a beautiful fine day after a rather chilly start, three carloads of trampers headed over the Takaka Hill to Canaan Downs. This turned out to be quite a busy spot – the local search and rescue team were exercising in the area for the day. We left the carpark just on 9.15 am and headed up the fairly gentle climb to Wainui Saddle, a convenient spot for a morning cuppa. With a clear sky there were great views of the surrounding peaks and everyone enjoyed soaking up the warmth of the sun before heading into the bush for the rest of the trip.
A well-formed track through native bush led us up onto Evans Ridge where we met up with the Inland Track coming from Moa Park. We were able to make very good time along the ridge and decided to stop for lunch at the turn off to Wainui Hut. Here we met up with a couple of trampers completing the circuit in reverse. Although fine, the air temperature was pretty cool so we didn’t linger too long on the ridge.
The track from here descended quite steeply through dense beech forest down to Wainui Stream. (It was definitely a better option doing the trip anticlockwise!) Crossing a couple of side creeks as we walked along the river and then crossing the main stream to the hut tested the waterproofness of many people’s boots. This typical four bunk Forest Service style hut provided another photo opportunity and after a brief stop we climbed back up to Wainui Saddle and back down to the carpark. The return trip took us just on six and a half hours, including stops.
Those on the trip were: Rob Merrilees, Maria Brooks, Chris and Jo Ecroyd, Eddie Runge, Julian Edmonds, Geoff Walker, Georgina Rayner, Andrew Henderson, Pat Taylor and Don Morrisey.
Author: Jo Ecroyd
A weekend of contrasts
Leaving Richmond around 8am meant we walking on the Abel Tasman Coastal track by 9am. The day was sunny and calm as seven of us went on past Tinline, departing from a group with spades and tree seedlings that were walking amongst us. The track to Castle Rock, via Holyoake Clearing, branched off 10 minutes from here. As we climbed up higher we began to get great views over Marahau and the surrounding scenery. The gradient was steady but kept going up for the next 1¾ hours. Once we got to the junction with the Anchorage track, the gradient lessened. By morning teatime we were sitting at a picnic table at Holyoake Clearing. A loo with a skew stood where the old shelter used to be. The wee new shelter was across the track from the pond, perched on a cleared bit of slope.
From here the track goes along at a lesser gradient, winding in and out of gullies. By now we are out of the regenerating vegetation and into native bush. Closer to Castle Rock the frequency of small creek crossings increased and some big granite boulders become part of the landscape. Around 4pm we reached the Hut which is nestled in a patch of regenerating bush. To make the most of the daylight, most of us went the 350 metres to Castle Rock. From this granite boulder littered ridgeline, there are excellent views across Tasman Bay.
The classic Castle Rocks Hut on the Abel Tasman Inland Track
The hut is a cosy, comfortable 8 bunk hut with plenty of hooks both inside and outside under the veranda. Getting the fire going without smoking everyone out was a challenge that Rob met. During the night light rain began to fall. It was still drizzling at 8am when we departed from the hut. It was a wet trudge back to Holyoake Clearing shelter with just a brief stop by an overhanging rock for refuelling. What a squeeze for us to sit in the hut for a dry lunch place. Wet coats and packs stacked in a corner - anyway at least we were out of the wet for a bit.
It was a long trudge out from here with no stops and careful stepping so as not to lose ones footing. Overall a great trip ending with a sense of achievement.
The group was Maria Brooks, Jocelyn Winn, Rob Merrilees, Chris and Jo Ecroyd, Pat Taylor and Jill Shepperd.
Author: Maria Brooks
A leisurely social walk with friends
Despite a whole week of dire weather predictions for Sunday, seven of us met up in Richmond at 9.00am in overcast but dry conditions and set off towards Motueka figuring that if the predicted heavy rain did arrive we could always hide out in some warm and dry café for the day.
We parked the cars at the Motueka Saltwater Baths and took the usual path between the houses and the sea until we reached the little concrete breakwater. After the mandatory morning tea break at 10.00am (thank you timekeeper Pat) we wandered leisurely along the sandspit being entertained by the antics of the numerous birds that inhabit the area. But I was less than entertained by bird antics when I accidently managed to sit in a “dollop” of bird poo when we stopped to sit on a washed up tree while we had a short break to enjoy the scenery. We walked to the end of the sandspit, then returned to use the tree as a lunch break seat (this time avoiding the bird offerings).
Even though the trip could hardly be called “tramping” it is certainly good exercise walking on sand; Rob managed to get some additional fitness training when a big mussel buoy was found and then towed on the end of a rope it all the way back to the cars.
It was back to the cars by 2.30pm with the sun trying hard to shine and the threat of rain long gone. Then it was off to TOAD Hall for a variety of refreshments from milkshakes, to icecreams, coffee and cups of tea.
On the trip were Katie Greer, Ian Sowman (leaders), Pat Taylor, Sarah De Cent, Maria Brooks, Rob Merrilees, and Hairta Eger.
Author: Katie Greer
The nearest mountain
Most people probably don’t realize that the nearest mountain to Richmond and Stoke is Mt Malita. This closeness makes for an ideal trip during shorter daylight hours although the drive up to the end of the Aniseed Valley Road seems longer than ever. Because this area is city council waterworks reserve, people need to sign in at the caretaker’s house at the road end, which the leader did for our group of 15. We followed a forestry road, signposted as Summit Road, at a steady uphill slope and entered pine forest. At a large flat bend we stopped for a break and we were soon joined by nine Motueka Tramping Club people, the day becoming an unintended joint club trip. After a while we emerged from the pines to see the summit in the distance. Then one long zigzag brought us to the end of the forestry road 100 metres below the summit. We then ascended a track which has recently been well marked. The grassy summit is pockmarked by small limestone outcrops and flanked by beech on the south side, but a gap in the forest gave us an enticing view of Mt Richmond away in the distance. After the 2½ hour ascent we enjoyed the splendid vista of Tasman Bay which was enhanced by glimpses of Mt Taranaki faintly poking up in the north.
The little two-bunk Mt Malita Hut
After lunch we looked inside the Mt Malita Hut, a short distance south of the summit. This cosy two bunk hut is owned by Nelson City Council. On our descent we completed a loop by deviating from Summit Road onto Old Malita Road, passing through some native bush further down. This completed a good day had by all, especially the nine people who had not been up here before.
The trampers were Robert Wopereis, Pat Taylor, Georgina Rayner, Jill Sheppard, Sarah De Cent, Nigel Jones, Andrew Henderson, Julian Edmonds, Merrick Mitchell, Margaret Carpinter, Christine Burn, Eddie Runge, newcomers David Glover, Sharon Scott and Jess Gregory.
Footnote: Between 1956 and 1958 a telescope and the two bunk hut was built near the top of Mt Malita. The telescope has gone but the concrete pad holding the telescope can still be seen near the hut. It was found that light coming from Nelson and Richmond was causing a light haze which interfered with the telescope.
Author: Robert Wopereis
A local loop
Seven trampers gathered below the old Brook St Dam. From the sanctuary building we followed the Koru Track which slopes up moderately for half an hour then at a junction we turned left going uphill on Jacobs Ladder track for five minutes. Then turning right it was easy going following the contours on East D Line up the valley through pleasant bush. At a signposted junction there is an option of heading back to the valley floor, but involves several creek crossings, but we continued up valley following markers intermittently up steeper slopes on East E Line, on a route which is still being worked on. We soon reached Toutawai Track which descends from Third House Shelter, which we followed for 15 minutes to Corkscrew Crossing in the scenic valley floor.
The scenic Brook Stream weir
A further five minutes down valley we reached Gable End junction, then it was a further five minutes to the old hut site now consisting of collapsed corrugated iron. At a picnic table here we enjoyed our lunch break before continuing down the valley criss-crossing the stream a few times and passing a couple of mammoth old totara. Other notable points of interest are the old weir and the upper dam once used for the city water supply. We returned to the old dam to finish a satisfactory circuit which had taken us five hours in total.
The group was Mike Locke, Georgina Rayner, Jill Sheppard, Robert Wopereis, Merrick Mitchell, Colin Duncan and newcomer Maudie Barron.
Author: Robert Wopereis
New tracks discovered
Another lovely cold and frosty morning when nine of us met up at just after 9.00 am at Will’s Gully in Lower Hill Street, Richmond. Actually, I should say 10 of us as Merrick’s dog, Billie, was a trip member for this one. We stopped for a short break and admired the view at the first fork in the track where you have the option of continuing on a level track or taking the high track. Obviously we took the high track and continued on to the forestry lookout where we had an early lunch. The views were spectacular with the mountains across the bay covered in snow, the wind coming from them was less of a treat - a real arctic blast. From this point, Merrick took over the leadership of the trip as we took advantage of his extensive knowledge of all the tracks in the area. Most of the trip members had travelled these hills often, but a lot of us had never taken the route Merrick showed us. We stopped for a short break for water and conversation at the reservoir, then climbed back up a track that was quite damaged with large slips, then up a mountain bike track where we needed to walk along a log that had been turned into a bike trail (rather slippery at the top). At this point of the trip Georgina pointed out a Gum tree that is apparently the 2nd highest Gum tree in the New Zealand (the highest being somewhere down south), it is a magnificent specimen and the first time I’ve ever looked at Gum tree without thinking firewood. We stopped again for more water and conversation at the seat above Valhalla Drive, then off again and came out above Jimmy Lee Creek. A quick walk along Hill Street and we were back at the cars by about 3.00 pm.
On the trip were Katie Greer, Christine Burn (leaders), Mike Locke, Merrick Mitchell and Billie, Julian Edmonds, Georgina Rayner, Margaret Carpinter, Val Latimer, and Pauline Tout (visitor).
Author: Katie Greer
Worthy walk despite weather
The forecast said fine spells and a few showers so the nine of us thought we would get wet at some stage on this tramp. Off we shot, over the Whangamoa Saddle, then a few kilometres further on we turned up a well signposted forestry road. Despite the DOC website saying this road is very narrow; it was no problem and better than many other forestry roads locally. Our excursion up the track involved a steady climb, only easing off for a time when we reached a leading ridge. At a large rock outcrop we took time for our morning tea stop then continued the steady uphill push. Higher up some rain started which forced us to don raincoats. It was not a long climb to reach the top, taking only 1 hour and 50 minutes from the start. The visit to the summit was brief before we ducked back down into the bush for shelter and our lunch.
By the time we set off again the rain had eased off and the sun soon came out, providing occasional views out through the bush to Delaware Bay and Cable Bay. Despite the weather, we encountered three other groups of trampers also out wanting some exercise. We arrived back at the cars in the early afternoon just before some more rain started. Regardless of the rain it was a worthy day’s walk although three of our group who had not been up here before were disappointed in not having any summit views.
The troop was Robert Wopereis, Jill Sheppard, Uta Purcell, Bob and Jill Dickinson, Geoff Walker, Georgina Rayner, Julian Edmonds and newcomer Kevin Hewitt.
Author: Robert Wopereis
Leisurely winter walking
There was a good turnout of 16 keen walkers which included six visitors at Millers Acre carpark for a 10.00 am start. It was a fine sunny winter’s morning as we set out up the west bank of the Maitai to Nile Street. From there we headed up through the Botanical Reserve, following up the track to the Centre of New Zealand.
After a short break at the top of the hill where we had a cuppa and enjoyed the views of Nelson City, the port and sea, and the surrounding hills we walked along the ridge towards Atawhai. That part of the trip is a very easy track, just slight inclines and great views of the harbour to enjoy as you walk. We considered having lunch at the top, but there were limited places to sit amongst the cow‑pats and gorse so we continued on towards Bay View Road in Atawhai, then walked back alongside QEII Drive to Miyazu Gardens where we had lunch. From here we made our way back to the cars along Nelson City streets. Quite a few of the group commented on how strange it was to be carrying a backpack in the middle of the city.
On the trip were Katie Greer and Ian Sowman (leaders), Pat Taylor, Sarah De Cent, Jill Dickinson, Colin Duncan, Mike Locke, Noelene Roberts, Sandra Jensen, and visitors Julia Morrison, Kevin Hewitt, Zoé Godfrey‑Payne, Raewyn Duncan, Jill Tyree and friend.
Authors: Katie Greer / Ian Sowman
A rubbish trip
It took three attempts to arrange the Boulder Bank trip; twice cancelled by bad weather - but finally seven of us met at Millers Acre at 9.00 am and headed the short distance to Boulder Bank Drive. Luckily Mike Johnson had recently spoken at club night on the geology of the area, so we were able to recognise the geology. We had great weather for the 5 kilometre (approximate) walk along the boulders to the lighthouse - the snow was down a lot lower than usual (Dun Mountain was totally covered, as was Fringed Hill and surrounds), there was no wind and the sun was shining - an altogether perfect day to be out.
As it was an easy trip we had decided to have a community spirit and pick up rubbish as we walked. There wasn’t a lot for the first hour, but after that it was amazing how much had washed or been blown over from Nelson, or in from sea. We picked up the equivalent of about seven Nelmac rubbish bags. The bags were getting quite heavy and we still had about two hours to walk back to the cars, when a bach owner offered to transport the rubbish back to Nelson with his boat - an absolute godsend. He also offered to show us around his bach - total rustic charm and kiwi ingenuity. I don’t suppose many people are as lucky as we were to have the opportunity to actually see inside one of these iconic baches.
So armed with supermarket bags from the bach owner, we set off to complete the trip and collected a heap more rubbish on the way back. The trip took us about six hours as it was hard to make a lot of progress with some of the rocks being quite slippery as well as the meandering around picking up rubbish. We arrived back at the cars at 4.00 pm and found that one had a very flat tyre. Luckily there was enough expertise in that car load to jack the car up and put the space saver on.
On the trip were Katie Greer, Ian Sowman (leaders), Maria Brooks, Geoff Walker, Margaret Carpinter, Guilda Pegg, and Sandra Jensen.
Author: Katie Greer
Originally we were 13 but with heavy rain on Saturday night and no promise of a decent tramp, four decided to give it a miss. That meant one vehicle of four leaving Richmond at 8am to meet up with another vehicle of four at Wakefield. We drove in drizzle to Jeff Lukey’s home. After viewing photos of Jeff’s recent Kaikoura trip we put on our raincoats and headed out for Jeff’s bush walk. This is about a 3km track that has been made through a stand of beech forest on a southwest facing slope. A very refreshing walk, mainly on a well benched track, through wet bush. At the top we had views across farmland to the north. The downward track wound its way through bush again and back across a footbridge and up to the house. A late morning tea was about to begin when it was discovered the power was off. Out came the thermos. So we had a hot cuppa along with a shared morning tea.
By 11am the drizzle had eased so we set off for our next walk. This was a farm walk across the road from Jeff’s house. We were able to experience where cows walk. Grassy pastures, somewhat soggy today, gravelly races, complete with cow poo slush. So much for clean boots! Not deterred we walked on and up onto a terrace where we were able to see an old gold mining area. By now it was raining again so we didn’t stay too long. By 1pm we were back at the house for lunch. After a long social lunch break some set off for a third walk. That being Jeff’s 15 minute creek walk.
Those on the trip were: Jeff Lukey, Maria Brooks, Rob Merrilees, Alison Warren, Katie Greer, Patricia Taylor, Sandra Jensen, Eddie Runge and guest Christine Walker.
Author: Maria Brooks
Fine weather long weekend
Two vehicle loads (nine people) left Millers Acre at 8.00 am for the “The Conways” 40km south of Kaikoura on the Inland Kaikoura Road.
On the way we stopped at Ohau Point to walk ten minutes up to a waterfall. Being winter there were many baby seals in the pool below the waterfall and some scattered up the creek. A true seal nursery.
Along the Esplanade at Kaikoura was a suitable place to have lunch and then on to the Clarence Reserve. We drove part way up the track in riverbed and parked up when it got too rough. From here we walked an hour up to Bushy Saddle on the “Driving Spur” 4‑wheel drive road. Once back at the vehicles we drove on to our holiday house. The three couples that had each travelled independently were already settled in. Before long the rest of us had our beds sorted. We relaxed, enjoyed our meal and had a chatty evening before retiring for the night.
Next morning we walked along Cloudy Range Road, just up the road from our accommodation, through farmland and up a vehicle track on Conway Spur. After three hours we arrived at the TV mast on a tussocky ridge. It was a little breezy up here, at 1042 metres, but we managed to find shelter on the leeward side to have our lunch admiring the view. The return trip was a pleasant downhill trek.
We arrived back at the old farm house about 4.00 pm and most settled in to a well-deserved cup of tea or a glass of wine, others decided to take another stroll around and explore the Conway area a little further. A truly civilised difference to this farm house from a DOC hut was having the hot shower facility; so by early evening we were all lovely and clean and smelling good. After another glorious shared meal, the evening was one of laughter, games, or a good catch up with tramping mates you hadn’t seen in a while.
The weather continued to be our friend on the last day of our trip and we woke to slightly overcast but dry conditions. After a quick clean-up of the farm house, we were on the road by 9.00 am, and made our way to Kaikoura and a walk around the peninsular. The tide was just turning to come in when we arrived so no time was wasted in getting started. The weather started to pack up about 30 minutes into the walk and the wind was amazingly cold and seeming to come from all directions. We cut the walk short and climbed the steps from Whalers’ Bay back on the cliff tops to the cars. The trip is well worth doing as DOC has put great information boards all the way along and it is very educational.
After a quick lunch stop in Kaikoura, we continue on to the Okiwi Bay Track for another walk. The rain was just threatening to start as we got out of the cars, but we decided to chance it anyway to see how far we could get. After a quick stop at the lookout, off we went with instructions to stop at 1.30 pm and turn back (35 minute walk). Some got as far as the ridge turnoff to Patutu - others a lot less. Back into the cars and we headed towards Blenheim and had a leg stretch at Pollard Park, then on the road again on the last leg of the journey. The weather really packed up and we drove back in heavy rain - but we had been so lucky weather‑wise all weekend.
On the trip were Maria Brooks, Rob Merrilees, Katie Greer, Colin and Marianne Duncan, Margaret Carpinter, Roger Heybourn, Dale and Christine Hoy, Andrew Henderson, Pat Taylor, Andrew Tod, Jocelyn Winn, Oliver Steding and Christine Burn.
Authors: Maria Brooks / Katie Greer
Joint Trip with Marlborough Tramping Club
Wye? What? Where?
The Wye Route - where’s that? The Wye Route is a new marked route in South Marlborough starting from the Leatham Valley, ascending a ridge between Station Creek and Boulder Stream and going over a saddle to the Wye River.
The start of the Wye Route in Leatham Valley, South Marlborough
Five eager trampers left home in the dark for the 1¾ hour drive to the carpark. The Blenheim trio had left half an hour later than us and with perfect timing both groups turned off the Wairau Valley Road at Branch River at exactly the same time. Two small side creeks need to be crossed on the Leatham 4WD Road before the signposted turnoff that climbs a short distance up to the carpark at an old quarry. We passed under tall rugged limestone rock outcrops and then started the relentless climb beside a fenceline up a ridge amongst tall grass and some matagouri. After half an hour we had climbed the steepest section but there were still a large amount of climbing to do, interspersed with some undulating sections. The route continued to follow the fenceline along the rugged ridge and skirted a few craggy rock outcrops eventually giving expansive views of the main range of mountains ahead.
Majestic views and rainbows on the Wye Route
The fine but breezy weather had quickly changed to cloudy, showery and blustery conditions, so after we reached a high point on the ridge we decided to have lunch and return. This had taken us 2½ hours and we thought we were still at least 1½ hours away from our intended destination of the saddle. As a bonus, at our lunch stop, the majestic view was enhanced by the appearance of a few rainbows but we didn’t have time to search for that elusive pot of gold. On our descent the strong wind made us struggle with our footing at times but we soon dropped into calmer weather and returned to the carpark by mid-afternoon. It was an interesting trip to a new area for all of us, and great tramping country.
The Waimea group was Robert Wopereis, Jocelyn Winn, Andrew Henderson, Sandra Jenson and Geoff Walker along with Marlborough trampers Linda, Jane and Alistair.
PS For a map of the route see the Walking Access website www.wams.org.nz
Author: Robert Wopereis
Life’s a beach
The forecast for a showery day did not eventuate and seven members and a new arrival from Central Otago made the most of ideal sunny conditions for the coastal walk from Rocks Road to the end of the peninsular opposite Oyster Island where we stopped for lunch. The return trip was made via part of the airport perimeter track and then through the Tahunanui motor camp, taking four hours in total.
Good beach walking on Tahunanui coast near the airport
A relaxing outing with good company incorporating some stretching exercises at the newly installed outdoor exercise equipment along the way.
On the trip were David Blunt, Sarah De Cent, Herta Eger, Mike Locke, Robert Wopereis, Colin & Marianne Duncan, and visitor Kevin Hewitt.
Author: David Blunt
Brave bush bash
Eleven people started on the adventure into the flood ravaged area of the Hacket and Browning catchments. Being some time since last venturing up Miner Ridge the state of the undergrowth was a little unknown.
The weather was kind and the power of Mother Nature unfolded as we headed up the river to the base of Miner Ridge. The track was damaged in parts but did not hinder us much. The creek before Miner Ridge was completely scoured out and the bed was mainly gravel and sand making the crossing easy and no one got wet feet. We started our climb and found the route up the ridge somewhat more overgrown than what we had encountered in 2006. By morning tea time many were showing battle scars from the bush bash and we were not making as good a time as we had last time. By lunch we were about an hour short of the lunch stop of seven years ago. Losing the track through the first significant bit of forest did not help. Knowing that an out time of 5pm was probably not achievable, we discussed going back the same route but obviously the bush bash back down encouraged us all to continue on.
Track finding to the ridge to Rocks Hut was tricky with numerous tree falls, but all went well. Once on maintained tracks the progress was steady and we made Browning Hut in good time. At that point we split the party as some wanted to get out faster so they went ahead. The Browning Stream was found to be well scoured out and the flood route was the only way down. Only one detour at the junction of the tracks from Browning to Hacket Hut was required. Unfortunately the lead group missed the detour and went all the way to the Hacket Hut only to end up coming up behind the slower group near where the waterfall track splits off the main track. The trip ended back at the car park at about 5:15pm, with all feeling like we had achieved something.
Those on trip were; Rob Merrilees, Maria Brooks, Eddie Runge, Jocelyn Winn, Julian Edmonds, Sandra Jensen, Andrew Henderson, Geoff Walker, Colin Duncan, Don Morrisey and Nicola Harwood.
Author: Rob Merrilees
Magnificent mountain views
There were a couple of bonuses on this trip, the first was the fresh overnight snow – the first for the autumn – the other bonus was the wildlife sightings. To complete a circuit of the Chummies and the Gibbs tracks we left one car at Rolling Junction and one at the start of the Chummies Track. Starting on the Chummies Track the five of us had to cross the Wangapeka River.
Chummies crossing of Wangapeka River
We all linked up arms to pack straps to safely cross the thigh or shorts deep water. After changing out of our spare shoes into our boots we climbed steadily up the track soon made easier by some long zigzags. After one hour we reached the leading ridge with a few good views out of the bush. The gradient up the ridge eased off with one small drop but still included a few steep pinches. Pleasantly we were serenaded by the melodious bellbirds in this part of the Wangapeka Valley; the best heard for many a club trip. Higher up the ridge in scattered bush the track sidled across to the hut we could soon see in the distance. Fresh snow on a narrow track across a steep slope made it slightly treacherous but we made it to the hut intact after five hours from the start. Situated just above the bushline and below the crest of the Arthur Range, this must be one of the best sited huts you can find for its magnificent mountain views including the nearby Mt Owen massif, Nelson Lakes Ranges and Tasman Bay.
The grandstand-like panorama from the 50-year old John Reid Hut
While relaxing at the hut we spied a chamois just visible on the far skyline of the Arthur Range behind the hut – rare in Kahurangi National Park. Here it stood, as if it was watching us, then sitting down, altogether for over three hours.
After quite a cold night in the classic six-bunk hut, the next day we headed up through the long tussock taking 20 minutes to reach the crest of the Arthur Range. No one had the extra map showing all the points of interest we could see looking north but we figured out later that Mt Baldy was the first prominent peak along the range. South west from here it was along a narrow undulating ridge but included one steep gut which proved difficult, but looking back perhaps there was an easier way around this.
Chris surveys the spectacular views along the Arthur range
Two hours along the range we dropped down a ridge for about 45 minutes to a large track marker at the bushline and the start of the Gibbs Track. This track drops steadily all the way to the lush forest of Gibbs Creek. After a crossing of this creek we soon arrived at a knee-deep crossing of the Wangapeka River. A large eel half under a rock on our exit from the river perhaps was a farewell for us on the last half hour walk to Rolling Junction and our cars. This was a longer 7½ hour day to complete a great circuit. We agreed the advertised medium grade for this circuit probably could have been graded hard. Another special trip for trampers Robert Wopereis, Maria Brooks, Chris and Jo Ecroyd, and Sue Davies (Nelson TC).
Author: Robert Wopereis
Lakes, Heights and Rain at Springs Vegas
The dry spell was breaking and rain was again on the radar but that didn’t deter nine members of the club heading to the Alpine Motor Inn at Springs Junction. Fortunately the weather wasn’t a major problem and by the end of the weekend we had three days of tramping and one casual jaunt behind us.
Lake Daniell in front of Manson Nicholls Memorial Hut
We arrived at Springs Junction early enough to set off for Lake Daniell by morning tea time. This 5½ hour return trip took us to Manson-Nicholls Memorial Hut situated on the shore of Lake Daniell. A pleasant flat walk up alongside the Alfred River makes this track popular with family groups and we were delighted to see many such groups heading in for the night. Some of the groups had children as young as five; it is really good to see another generation of trampers out there. Those on this trip were; Katie Greer, Robert Wopereis, Maria Brooks, Nigel Jones, Jo Ecroyd, Pat Taylor, Jill Parish and Jocelyn Winn.
The group celebrate the ascent of Mt Haast in Victoria Forest Park
Next day we woke to drizzly rain, but it looked as though it would clear so we headed up over the Rahu Saddle to do the Mt Haast trip. Mt Haast is an impressive 1587m in height and is the prominent triangular peak clearly that looks just like a volcanic cone (which it is not). The start of this track is a bit of an obstacle course but as we ventured further up the track was clearer. It was awesome to break out of the bush and see Mt Haast looming up ahead of us. Mist swirled around its top as we all scrambled on over rocks and alpine vegetation to ascend its peak where we had good panoramic views of Victoria Forest Park. Lucky for us the mist cleared by the end of the lunch break and the sun warmed us on the way down. The view from the top looking down to the road below was most impressive, with the cars looking about as small as a fingernail. This was a leisurely paced 7 hour return trip.
Those on this trip were; Katie Greer, Robert Wopereis, Maria Brooks, Nigel Jones, Jo Ecroyd, Pat Taylor, Peter Vella and Jocelyn Winn.
Klondyke Valley tarns in rainy weather
Easter Sunday, all but Pat headed off to Rahu Saddle to do the Klondyke Valley Walk. Although it was dry when we set off, rain soon arrived, so we donned our wet weather gear and continued on through the bush, crossing a stream and climbing steadily to the head of the valley. As usual the upside of wet weather in the bush is the fantastic way the mosses and ferns glow and the amazing number of greens there are in nature; and of course that familiar earthy smell all trampers would recognise. The tarns and open space were encircled by the mountains, providing a serene atmosphere. We got glimpses of the ridgeline in places as the cloud shifted around. Most of us had lunch under the shelter of a fly. The return trip was even wetter but not unpleasant. Once out of the bush we felt the full impact of the rain, but by now we were at the cars, ready to return to our accommodation. This was a 4½ hour return trip. What bliss to have a hot shower and then go out for a meal to finish the long weekend. Those on this trip were; Katie Greer, Robert Wopereis, Maria Brooks, Nigel Jones, Jo Ecroyd, Peter Vella and Jocelyn Winn.
Monday was wet again so we headed home with just a short walk at the Kawatiri Rail Tunnel.
Authors: Maria Brooks and Katie Greer
Trio of huts trip
A large crowd of 18 people headed eastwards and at Canvastown diverted up the Wakamarina and joined up with eight people from Marlborough Tramping Club. After a little hiccup with our different meeting places we all set off together along the wide track. After the recent hot weather, the conditions on the day were much more pleasant and some cloud cover also helped. After 40 minutes we zigzagged down to cross Doom Creek Bridge and then climbed up again. Since our club’s last trip here three years ago it is quite noticeable how much the cutover bush in this area has regenerated – very pleasing indeed. The track continued at an easy gradient up the valley through the more mature forest with an occasional view of Mt Fishtail in the distance. We emerged out onto a large clearing containing Devils Creek Hut, after a quick two hours from the start. Behind the standard 6-bunker was an old slab hut, tucked away in the bush, more of an open-air bivvy than a hut, with one wall now lost.
After a long leisurely lunch some carried on up Devils Creek for 45 minutes to the stone hut remains, which was a bit of a scramble in places. The remnants of the two huts consist of stacked boulders of about half-height and are situated on a small terrace beside the river. Another group returned and detoured up the Doom Creek Track. This pleasant side valley is more forested on one side than the other, containing some good young rimu.
With good timing, the two groups arrived back within a few minutes of each other to complete a nice outing. It was good to mix, mingle and chat with our neighbouring club and worth the little extra effort in co-ordinating. The Waimea group was Robert Wopereis, Jocelyn Winn, Chris Louth, Margaret Edwards, Jenny Symons, Ruth Henry, Sarah De Cent, Andrew Henderson, Graham Soppit, Pauline Manley, Chris and Jo Ecroyd, Sue and Paul Henley, Katie Greer, Mike Locke, Pam Meadows and Julian Edmonds.
Author: Robert Wopereis
Pleasant local stroll
This was the trip of the disappearing leaders. Firstly Katie found that work commitments were taking her out of town that weekend, then Pat realised that she had made promises to her grandchildren, so it was left up to me. Luckily the three of us had previously enjoyed a relaxed Waitangi Day morning doing a familiarisation, so I did know which forestry road to follow and which ones to bypass.
A small group of five left Richmond shortly after 9.00am for the 15-20 minute drive to the Wai-iti Domain, turning left immediately before the Wai-iti River bridge and parking in the picnic area. At 9.35am we moved on along the road for a short distance then detoured left along a bush track which avoids a locked gate, going over a wooden barrier and back on to a forestry road - Tunnicliff Road West - which we followed through pine trees. This took us to the forest boundary fence with farm land on the other side and a nice view north to Nelson and Tasman Bay. We followed a fence to Tunnicliff Road East and back down to the domain at 11.45am for lunch. After checking water levels in the river we decided they were far too low for a swim, so it was back to Wakefield for a coffee instead, then home. We were: Georgina Rayner, Noelene Roberts, Christine Burn, Ian Sowman and Guilda Pegg (leader and scribe).
Great granite landscapes
Tenting on the Hope Range - a great opportunity not to be missed by eight club members. Most of NZ was in the grips of a drought and here we were, tenting on the tops. Would there be water? Local knowledge told me there would be. After four hours our group reached Conical Hill, a peak 1202m high at the northern end of the Hope Range. It had been a long upward slog through beech forest via an old stock route over Ellis Knob. Being such a hot day we were pleased to rest in the shade of mountain beech for lunch. Later we dropped down to a flat saddle and set up our tents. Before long fresh water was brought into the camp site from a nearby stream and everyone was happy. Soon three guys got restless feet so they strode southwards along the open granite ridges of the range. After two hours the most energetic ones had reached the flanks of the Lookout Range. Time, heat and energy meant they turned back here.
Meanwhile, the rest of us found the stream and filled our water bottles. We ventured up a ridge to the south and did a loop, returning via the ridge top. On the way we viewed a stone enclosure erected some years earlier by some energetic local lads. It is still in very good shape - fireplace, chimney and all. The evening was calm and warm as we settled in for the night with a lone morepork calling at times.
We woke to another sunny day. Some were keen to explore further north along the range, so they packed up and left earlier than the rest of us. We regrouped on Conical Hill at 10am and had morning tea before beginning our trek downward. Once we reached the site of the old lime quarry we deviated to check out the entrance of the Huia Cave. This is where Cave Stream disappears into the hill. The last part of the trek was the most fruitful. Blackberries just waiting to be plucked and eaten or collected in lunch containers. Yum yum!
Those participating on this trip were: Maria Brooks, Rob Merrilees, Oliver Steding, Eddie Runge, Jocelyn Winn, Jo & Chris Ecroyd and Jill Sheppard.
Author: Maria Brooks
Birdlife and Classic Boats
The troops met at Richmond at 7.30am and picked up a few more at Wakefield on the way. We started walking at 9am along Paddys Track around the side of Mt Robert. When we stopped for a break, two people decided to walk slowly back to the cars. As the weather was so hot, we discussed about who wanted to go on to Bushline Hut, so three ladies decided to go only a bit further to a great view point overlooking Lake Rotoiti. The Famous Five of one lady and four men carried on to the top with the PLB. We all met for lunch at 1pm back at the carpark. After this we went back down to Lake Rotoiti and walked the Peninsula Track and had a look at the Classic Boats and back to the cars.
Points of interest were the bellbirds in full song, tomtits, robin and a beautiful falcon and heaps of huge eels in the lake. Everyone enjoyed the day. The ten happy trampers were Julian Edmonds, Lily Tava, Pat Taylor, Andrew Henderson, Noelene Roberts, Merrick Mitchell, Mike Locke, Nigel Jones, Sarah De Cent and Val Latimer.
Author: Pat Taylor
Famous Five, Fish & Chips and Fenella and Lashings of Fruit
Possibly not famous, but certainly fabulous five trampers met on Friday for a 5.00 pm getaway. We loaded our gear into Rex’s van, headed off towards Trilobite Hut, with a stop at Motueka on the way for a dinner of fish & chips (an excellent suggestion from Pat) and the delicious home grown fruit Rex supplied. We arrived at Trilobite at 8.00 pm and surprised (or perhaps dismayed) the sole occupant of the hut who up until that time had been enjoying the peace and quiet. We were sitting outside the hut having a cuppa, enjoying the view and watching the lights of the camper sites down in the valley when Pat came out of the hut with a wee cake and a birthday candle in it for one of the party celebrating their birthday that day.
We woke to a very misty morning which made the hills and the valley look very picturesque, but hard to capture the full effect of that on camera. There were a number of unbanded young weka investigating us as we sat at the picnic table having our breakfast, one of the weka was way too tempted by Alison’s feet and tried to take a bite out of them. But with everyone’s feet intact, we started out towards Fenella in a chilly 8 degrees and the temperature didn’t come up much for the first hour or so. The track up the valley is well graded through both bush and river flats, and with the cooler temperature we made good time to the newly restored Chaffey Hut where we stopped for a break. The restoration of the hut is fantastic; it is so good to see it how it would have looked so long ago. Our party thought that a night at the hut would make an ideal way of introducing young people to the joys of the outdoors as it is so close to the road end and on an easy track.
The amount of bird song we heard on the section of the track between Chaffey Hut and the old canvas hut site was wonderful and a real credit to all the trapping that has happened in this area. This part of the trip was done in companionable silence; just the bird song, the creak of overnight packs, and the soft thud of boots on the grassy track. We passed by the old canvas hut site and saw it has had a bit of work done to it and it is looking in “elegant disrepair” with all walls now propped up and the door back on its hinges.
Our lunch site was about 5 minutes away from the hut on the side of the track, by the river amongst the soft mossy grass - lunch really doesn’t get better than that. We arrived at Fenella Hut with plenty of daylight left so we headed off to the tarn where a couple of the party enjoyed a rather chilly swim. As usual Fenella was crowded, but shortly after we got ourselves settled to sleep out on the decking, a group of about eight 20-something-year-olds arrived back at the hut and decided to pack up their gear and go down to Chaffey Hut for the night - could be they thought we might not approve of the whisky they were consuming. The hut wasn’t too crowded with only six trampers inside and two out on the decking; and with the door and windows left open it was a comfortable night with the full moon shining over us and the sound of moreporks and weka echoing around the hills (those weka are noisy little blighters close to the hut, but good to know they are breeding so well).
Sunday morning we set out again in chilly 8 degree conditions and stopped about 90 minutes along the track for a break in a beautiful spot and spent time watching robins being very curious about us and our packs. On the track again we came across an area of abundant bird life in the river flat area where many dozens of tiny birds were feasting on the seeds of the drying grasses, they looked rather finch-like. Our next stop was at Chaffey Creek where Rex did a bit of rock fossicking and the rest of us sat on the bridge enjoying the great scenery. Lunch was at Chaffey Hut and we were dismayed to see that overnight a fire had been lit close to the picnic table less than 2 metres from the newly restored wooden hut; in the tinder dry conditions that could have been a disaster. The temptation of the river called and it was boots off and time for a paddle. The last leg of the trip seemed to go way too fast and before we knew it Trilobite Hut was in view and our trip was over. On the trip were Katie Greer (leader), Pat Taylor, Rex Hunt, Alison Warren and Jocelyn Winn.
Author: Katie Greer
Have you walked past Kea Hut on Mt Robert and been curious about the interior of the quaint old building? Nelson Ski Club opened the normally locked hut to the public for one day during the annual Nelson Lakes Festival, giving us the chance to check it out.
A group of eleven set off up Paddys Track on a superb day, gradually climbing around the side of Mt Robert through manuka, kanuka and regenerating beech. At our first stop an error by a newcomer saw a pack on the ground tumble down the steep slope for several metres, disgorging its contents. An easy mistake to make – but happily everything was retrieved intact. Once out of the bush we were buzzed by a light plane making scenic flights and we happily waved to the plane and the pilot returned the compliment and waved back. The views here were simply superb – out across the glistening lake and away in the distance. Zigzagging upwards we had to be alert as about 20 runners came down the track at various times. We arrived at Bushline Hut for a brief stop then carried on five minutes further to Kea Hut, taking two hours overall.
Great views of St Arnaud Range from Kea Hut on Mt Robert
We were greeted by three members from the Nelson Ski Club and were treated to tea, pikelets and biscuits. We viewed the cosy interior consisting of an outer storage area then the main room with six bunks. Restoration work over the last three years has included an exterior repaint, repiling, and a new woodburner, and much more work is being planned. The hut was built in 1934 by six young men who wanted a base for skiing on the adjacent slopes and is a remnant of an era when there were very few huts in the New Zealand mountains and is arguably the first purpose built alpine hut in the top of the South Island.
After 1¼ hours enjoying this much loved hut we reluctantly carried on up Paddys Track then down Pinchgut Track to the carpark to complete a five hour circuit. On our way home we briefly stopped to view the Arts and Crafts market at Kerr Bay. A special day enjoyed by Robert Wopereis, Katie Greer, Pat Taylor, Jill Sheppard, Jill and Bob Dickinson, Georgina Rayner, Jo Ecroyd, David Blunt and newcomers Maudie Barron and Tessa Caunter.
Author: Robert Wopereis
Thirteen of us set off from Boulder Creek between Glenhope and Kawatiri, at around 9am. Blackberries and broom had threatened to make the path from the road to the bush difficult, but Rob with his saw made short work of the rampant growth. Once in the bush our next threat came from wasps. Within the first hour a couple of us had been stung, myself included, twice through my red shirt. I am beginning to think red is not a good colour to wear in wasp areas as on a previous trip I was stung by the red on my socks.
Our route was not too difficult to follow but we did on occasions deviate for short sections only to find ourselves 'bushed'. A couple of us had cutting gear, so as we went, some of the growth over the route was cut away. The earlier sections in the bush had some steep stretches and it was a relief to get up onto a flatter ridge. Further on there was a lot of scratchy manuka regrowth and tussocky grass (this section could do with a bit of clearing to make it more pleasant to negotiate), but by looking on the ground we could follow an animal track to the bushedge. From here we could now get a view of the rock formations on the flanks of Mt Hope. The day was warm and by now the open granite areas were well solar heated. The vegetation was now mainly clumps of manuka. Again, our route was somewhat by definition an animal track. A short upward stretch on a granite slope had us reaching for our drink bottles and it was good to get to the beech trees for a rest in the shade. Being after midday we had lunch and then some went on for another half hour towards Mt Hope trig. This group got far enough to get views toward Mt Murchison but didn't get to the trig before turnaround time. By 2pm we had regrouped at the lunch spot and began our descent. The shade of the bush was welcome but by now many of us wished we had brought more drink. There were no creeks en route, but I do think there may have been one had we crossed to go to the rock formations. After 2¾ hours we were back at Boulder Creek, where many of us refilled our drink containers and quenched our thirst before relaxing at the cars. On the whole tramp Peter recorded an average temperature of 26° and a maximum of 37°, also a climb of
Those on this trip were: Maria Brooks, Rob Merrilees, Katie Greer, Jocelyn Winn, Sarah De Cent, Merrick Mitchell, Jo Ecroyd, Ruth Henry, Georgina Rayner, Julian Edmonds, Eddie Runge, Peter Vella and guest Sandra Jensen.
Author: Maria Brooks
Imposing Kahurangi peak
Because of forecast heavy rain the scheduled long weekend trip from Kiwi Saddle Hut to John Reid Hut was reduced to a Kiwi Saddle hut trip for a weekend. While driving we had cloud and some drizzle, but up the Wangapeka Valley, pleasantly we were under blue skies and sunshine.
The first wildlife sighting was at the very start, with a pair of whio straight under the Rolling swingbridge. We reached the Wangapeka Bridge after three hours then the very solid Kiwi Stream suspension bridge, newly installed last year. Then it was a steady grade up the Kiwi Track, soon steepening where the track leaves the stream. Then the gradient eased as the track cuts in and out to cross a few small streams. It was quite a hot day so we stopped at each creek for a fresh drink and to enjoy the cooler air. As we crossed an old rocky slip I remembered we were close to the hut and it turned out to be another 15 minutes and which took us six hours from the start. Kiwi Saddle Hut is well sited in a large clearing at the junction of four tracks and faces the magnificent Luna Tops. Only one other tramper was in residence and two other arrivals camped outside.
The next morning was cloudy at first but a brief glimpse of blue sky through the cloud inspired us to head up Mt Patriarch. The track sidled a short distance from the hut then climbed moderately up to an undulating ridge with partial views then ascended steadily-steep to emerge out of the bush on the Arthur Range. From here it was an easier tussock ridgeline but then with steeper scrambles over and around sharp jagged rock. After a couple of false tops we eventually summited at 1701m marked by a large cairn. We enjoyed the perfect conditions on the summit with unsurpassed views including the rugged Arthur Range snaking away in the distance and many other Kahurangi mountains and ranges laid out in every direction.
Mt Patriarch summit as Joy arrives after the 2 hour ascent
Our descent was quicker and we had a good rest at the hut while having lunch then returned down the Kiwi Track and along the Wangapeka Valley. A special treat for us was nibbling on some nice ripe wild blackberries and a few sweet wild strawberries on the trackside. Despite us being on the go for eleven hours on the day, we walked back to the carpark with more of a swagger than a stagger, proud of our achievement of the ascent of an imposing Kahurangi peak. The two hardy trampers were Robert Wopereis and Joy Bryant.
Author: Robert Wopereis
Premier multi-day tramp
At 86 kilometres in length the Leslie-Karamea Track is longer than any of the Great Walk tracks and worthy of its description as one of Nelson region’s premier semi-wilderness experiences. A good group of eight were on this six day trip and surprisingly only one had walked the whole track before. As we were driving to the start we passed the sad sight of the blaze at the Moutere Hills Community Centre just after the first fire engine had arrived. The fine day meant Flora carpark was bustling with other trampers heading in different directions as we set off along the track to Salisbury Lodge. This was all quite familiar territory, taking us 4½ hours, but not so familiar was the DOC staff hut which we managed to find tucked away in the bush nearby.
Day 2 was cloudy as we headed off up Starvation Ridge. On the open tussock we reached a junction and turned off down to the Leslie River. From the bushedge the track begins descending steadily and a good lookout point on the track is reached after one hour, then after two hours Splugeons Shelter is a welcome stop. This unique five-bunk structure was constructed after the site was blasted from solid rock and it has a dirt floor and a roll-up screen as one wall. After another hour we crossed the Leslie Bridge and strolled the pleasant Leslie River bush flats and terraces but it still was 3½ hours further to Karamea Bend Hut taking 7 hours altogether. After arriving at the hut some heavy showers fell, but this was the only rain on the whole trip.
Day 3 dawned cloudy and cool but soon cleared to a warm day. After the previous day’s rain, three native snails were seen on the track within the first ten minutes, before the nearby DOC staff hut. Here the Karamea River is wide and mighty with long stretches of flat water and nice views where we could get out on the riverbank. The muddiest part of the track was just before we crossed the bridge to the Crow Hut. Only four years old, this hut is beautifully situated facing directly down the river, a favourite for fisherman. One hour further we crossed the Karamea River on a 68m long swingbridge – the longest in DOC’s Motueka area. After about another hour we arrived at Venus Hut, also only four years old. After a 6½ hour day we enjoyed good swimming in a deep pool by the hut.
Day 4 was mostly on forested river terraces but there was a section of slippery rock to cross above the river with a wire to hold on to. After 2½ hours we arrived at Thor Hut, the only original Forest Service hut left in the Upper Karamea Valley. Soon visible on the hillsides were many earthquake slips, one of which had dammed the river forming Moonstone Lake. As the valley opened up, the track left the river for about an hour meaning we only had limited views of the lake. Just above the lake the river is much narrower and much more placid and this is where we decided to cross the river to avoid a detour of an hour to the bridge upstream of the hut. We soon found the shallowest point to cross, which was thigh deep for some or up to the shorts for others. We soon arrived at Trevor Carter Hut but not before losing the markers in the long grass and toi toi. Another good swimming hole was close to the hut which was well used after the 6¾ hour day.
Heading for Trevor Carter Hut in the Upper Karamea Valley
Day 5 we criss-crossed the Lost Valley Stream through knee-high tutu then bush for 1¼ hours to a saddle then a descent to Helicopter Flat Hut taking 2¾ hours altogether. Then we followed the Upper Karamea River at steady gradient towards Wangapeka Saddle involving another three shallow river crossings. After the saddle it was a steeper and rougher track then we crossed a section of rubble brought down by the 1929 Murchison earthquake. Soon after this we arrived at Stone Hut after a 7 hour day. The Wangapeka River here was quite small and colder for swimming than the Karamea River.
On our final day we saw a pair of whio soon after leaving the hut and then we stopped mid-morning at Kings Creek Hut. Below Kiwi Stream we passed the new lake which has dropped some metres after January flooding scoured out the bank opposite the slip. After the 7 hour day we were glad to finish off a great multi-day trip. Other trampers in the Karamea Valley were quite sparse – half the time no one else was staying in the huts and only two or three other trampers in a couple of the huts.
It was interesting to weigh all the packs with a digital luggage scales before and after the trip to see the difference in pack weights and the food eaten. The two leaders did carry the most weight – were they being more responsible? Or maybe irresponsible!
For the drop-off and/or pick-up, special thanks to our drivers Alan Hart, Ruth Henry and Chris Ecroyd.
The trampers were Robert Wopereis, Nigel Jones, Merrick Mitchell, Maria Brooks, Marie Firth, Christine Hoy, Jo Ecroyd and Bob Bassford (Motueka Tramping Club).
Author: Robert Wopereis
A tale of two tracks
Our day started at the Richmond meeting place at 9.00 am with a clear blue sky and the promise of a lovely sunny day. There was a wee amount of confusion over the car-pooling as some people didn’t show, others just arrived "out of the blue" and some were late; enough to send a delicate trip leader off to a home for the bewildered.
We arrived at Tapawera some 45 minutes later and started on the trip up Shedwood Bush walk. There was some discussion about the wooden boards across what looked like an old stream bed - seems that they are "river calming" structures that are designed stop flood waters carving out hunks from the banks. The walk is a very pleasant one on a well graded track through lovely regenerating native bush. One of the party wasn’t enjoying it all; and that was an 11 week old baby (Sophia) out with mum and dad - baby fought going to sleep for the entire way up. Most trips there is just the natter of trampers, the occasional bird song to be heard; not often a crying baby. The track had recently be worked on and the first half wasn’t at all overgrown - Further on up the track we met the keen local who had cut back the growth on the track, he said he would wait until the weather cooled to complete the job. We stopped just short of the observation point and morning tea and some had the chance to give baby Sophia a wee cuddle. After enjoying the view from the top over to the Arthur Range on the other side of the valley, we made an uneventful trip back to the start (Sophia was asleep by this time).
From the Shedwood track we made our way out to Jeff Lukey’s to enjoy our lunch on his new deck; admiring the beautiful gardens he has. Once lunch was over, Jeff took us on a guided tour of his tracks. It was a pleasure to be in amongst the trees and away from the heat of the day; the heat was so obvious when we came out of bush and into a light well. It was very interesting to see how prolific the weeds were in the light well. The tracks here are also well graded and cleared of a lot of undergrowth; so really there was no reason for one of our party (Guilda) to take a number of tumbles and get such blood covered knees. She tried to blame the falling on her new boots, but we suspected she could blame the previous night’s wine intake. It was back to Jeff’s for a welcome cuppa, then off on the drive home at 3.30 pm.
Enjoying this day was Katie Greer, Pat Taylor, Georgina Rayner, Guilda Pegg, Ian Sowman, Sara De Cent, Mike Locke, Julian Edmonds, and visitors Lily Tava, Pat Tristam, Tim and Karen Tyler with baby Sophia.
Author: Katie Greer
20 people turned up for this trip on a perfect day to travel to Mapua where we parked the cars and started walking along the walkway to the coast then to Ruby Bay. Here we stopped for morning tea and a great chat. Some of us had a lot of catching up to do as some members had come out of mothballs!! From here we continued on to McKee Domain where we found some shady trees to have lunch under. Some people left here for Mapua and some returned home. The rest wandered up the creek bed track which had lovely bush and great views, and then from here we went down Brabant Road and back along the beach to the cars. The day finished off at Hamish the Heron Café. One member decided he needed more exercise so caught the ferry from Mapua wharf to Rabbit Island and rode his bike home to Atawhai. Guess who?
The happy wanderers were, Pat Taylor, Guilda Pegg, Christine Burn, Alan Hart, Sarah De Cent, Ian Sowman, Hilary Sixtus, Katie Greer, Margaret Carpinter, Roger Heybourn, Noeline Purvis, Georgina Rayner, Jo Ecroyd, Margaret & Donald Younger, Geoff Walker, Julian Edmonds, Lily Tava, Margaret McKay and newcomer Sandra Jensen.
Authors: Pat Taylor & Julian Edmonds
Sunshine, Swimming and Ice Creams - and a bit of walking
As is the way of these easy summer trips, a small but enthusiastic group met in Richmond at 9.00am (which is practically a "sleep in" for seasoned trampers). The Abel Tasman tracks are rather like footpaths, so even though the walk in was easy we stopped for a short stop at Tinline for a morning tea break. The scenery on the walk from there to Apple Tree Bay is really beautiful as you catch a glimpse of glistening blue water and golden sand beaches through the native trees with the weather looked very promising for our planned swim at the bay.
The group pose on the beautiful beach at Apple Tree Bay
We arrived at Apple Tree Bay about 11.30 am and most of us changed into swimming togs and into surprisingly cold water. The swim was followed by lunch and leisurely laying in the sand soaking up the sunshine (not actually tramping was we know it). A cold wind came in, so we brushed off the sand, got back into tramping gear and walked out to Marahau.
We stopped at the café in Marahau for ice creams and coffee - the general opinion was that it would be a better option to travel to TOAD Hall in Motueka for better service and coffee in future.
The group was Katie Greer, Guilda Pegg, Ian Sowman, Georgina Rayner, Pat Taylor, and Julia Morrison (visitor).
Author: Katie Greer
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