Trip Reports, June-July 2014

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  1. Buckland Peaks > Paparoa NP
  2. Dew Lakes > Bryant Range, Nelson
  3. Cape Campbell >Marlborough
  4. Olive Pick > Frogs End, Tasman
  5. Booths Cottage > Nelson Lakes area
  6. Hacket-Browning Huts loop > Mt Richmond FP
  7. St Ronans Creek climb > Nelson Lakes NP
  8. Cable Bay > Nelson
  9. Mt Arthur climb > Kahurangi NP
  10. Lochnagar > Mt Aspiring NP

31 May–2 June 2014 Buckland Peaks, Paparoa NP
Leader: Ray Salisbury

Seven set forth from the carpark on SH6, not far from the sleepy suburbs of Westport. Striding out along the private farm access, we were nearly the target of an enthusiastic top-dressing pilot.

After 8 km of easy rambling we reached the bush edge, and promptly began the arduous ascent up a steep spur track.

A wonderful variety of forest had our botanists enthralled, as we journeyed through beech, podocarp, nei nei and, eventually, subalpine terrain, which included species of leatherwood.

After more than six hours, the last of us topped out onto scrubby knobs, before dropping down to the newish hut, tucked away into a hanging valley with a view westward toward the Buller River mouth. As daylight faded, the lights of Carters Beach twinkled on the distant shoreline. Six of us took the bunks, while Annette unselfishly slept in her tent.

After a leisurely lie-in on Sunday, we re-climbed  the ridgeline above the hut, and walked over a half circle of exposed knobs to the prominent saddle. From here a relatively straight forward scramble took us up on to the rocky rampart of the assorted Buckland Peaks (1325m).

Members with GPS units were diligently recording spot heights. They decided which was the highest peak, and that’s where we had lunch. From there we returned to the hut in several groups, visiting tarns and enjoying perfect postcard views in all directions, especially the bulky massif of Mt Cook, some 230km to the south.

I dilly-dallied along the ridgeline, shooting the interior of the Paparoa Range during the Golden Hour. The conditions were so good, I returned with my tent and spent the evening shooting star trails.

On Queen’s Birthday, I met my party as they arrived individually, rising out of the shadows to greet the sunshine. A long descent was made enjoyable by rigorous botanising and intense conversating.

In summary, the Buckland Peaks are a remarkably accessible destination for moderately fit trampers. Winter is the best time to avoid cloud build-up and ensure brilliant coastal and inland views.

Time: 6 hours to hut; 2 hours to summit plateau.

Botanising backpackers were: Uta Purcell, Annette LeCren, Leigh Marshall (DOC, Motueka), Chris Ecroyd (Waimea TC), Ian Morris, Lou Kolf & Ray Salisbury (scribe).

31 May 2014 – Dew Lakes, Bryant Range, Nelson
Leader: Elizabeth Dooley

Three of us walked to Dew Lakes on a lovely, crisp, clear day, glad to get up into the sunshine and birdsong.  We had views to Pelorus in one direction and Fishtail in another. The tarns still had ice on them when we were there, but we managed to find sunny spots for morning tea, lunch, and afternoon tea. (Chris, aren’t you sorry to miss such a leisurely walk?) With visits to Rush Pools, the Argilite Quarry, plant spotting and political discussions, we manage to string the trip out to six hours – could this be a club record?

Leader was Elizabeth Dooley, ably accompanied by Kelvin Drew & Dan McGuire, who fortunately knew the way.

14–15 June 2014 – Cape Campbell, Marlborough
Leader & Scribe: Chris Louth

One of the joys of driving to a campsite is that it allows you to take more gear. So it was, as two vehicles laden with nine people and various ‘luxury’ items headed over to the east coast for a change.

We got to the Marfell’s Beach campsite at about 10am, set up camp on the grass overlooking the beach and were ready to catch the low tide for the walk to the lighthouse an hour later.

Rather than walk the beach both ways we decided to head up to the ridgeline and descend to the beach further round the point. By the time we reached the old quarry we were all three inches taller from the cloying clinging clay that was impossible to shake off our boots. From here it was easy going for the rest of the way out and back.

As the sun sank lower and the temperature dropped we decided to light a fire above the high tide line on the beach. A pit was dug and wood gathered, the sun set and the full moon came up.

Some say it was the butterfly effect from an InterIslander bow wave, far off over the horizon; others blamed the gravitational pull of the moon. John might even believe it was a celestial fire warden having a laugh. Whatever . . .

As we were toasting marshmallows and passing round the bottle, a rogue wave of biblical proportions roared up the beach, reduced the fire pit to smooth sand, soaked socks and filled shoes, and consigned one of Kate’s chairs to join the other flotsam in Cook Strait!

That put a dampener on any thoughts of a late night and by 8.00 most people had sought the warmth and comfort of their sleeping bags, doonas and hot water bottles, lulled to sleep by the crashing waves.

The original plan to go to Sawcut Gorge on Sunday was canned due to recent heavy rain and the alternate was to head to the White’s Bay/Mt Robertson area instead.

While we were having breakfast and chatting, two locals were expertly launching their boat off the beach and guiding it slowly through the breakers. Then in one of those ‘did that really happen’ moments the skipper gunned it to try and beat a breaking wave 200 metres off-shore. The boat went straight up the face of the wave, hung vertically completely out of the water for a second, motor screaming, then slowly flipped backwards.

One head emerged next to the boat and he managed to haul himself onto the upturned hull, but there was no sign of the second person. Someone called 111 as we rushed down the beach to offer what assistance we could. As we got closer we could see the other guy clinging to the stern, vainly trying to swim the boat to shore.

In the best tradition of her Baywatch babe idols, Andrea stripped off a few layers and waded into the cold angry surf.

Along with a few others, they eventually managed to haul the boat into the shallows where we turned it right-way-up and emptied it.

Meanwhile the skipper was sheepishly trying to explain to the local bobby what had happened and why they weren’t wearing any safety gear! His penance was he lost virtually everything in the boat, and the piss-taking he would get from his mates in the local pub.

This delayed our getaway but, eventually, we arrived at beautiful White’s Bay, where one group did the higher ridge circuit and another group walked some of the tracks around the bay.

Participants were Rod & Carole Lewis, Ken Ridley, Barry James, Marianne Hermsen, John Whibley, Kate Krawczyk, Andrea Cockerton & Chris Louth.

22 June 2014 Olive Pick at Frogs End, Tasman
Organiser: Lawrie Halkett

The club’s annual olive harvest at Peter and Rae Coubrough’s Frogs End was an opportunity to quietly reflect on the life of Ruth Hesselyn and, in the process, enjoy a fabulously sunny day among good company.

And a social occasion it was. The below par growth of the crop, combined with a bountiful population of birds (summer was at least kind to the hatching of birds!) meant that there was only a modicum of work to be done, which was spread over half a day. In between we managed to squeeze in a leisurely morning tea and a huge lunch. Peter and Rae, as is the custom,  supplied the coffee, tea and a cauldron of soup, which was supplemented by the olive pickers’ pot luck offerings.

The annual olive harvest has become a regular annual event and those club members that want to see the Waimea estuary from a piece of paradise should watch out for this event next year.

Thank you Peter and Rae for being our hosts.

Happy harvesters included Val Latimer, Marijke Boers, Mike and Heather Drake, David Blunt, Pat Holland, Marie Lenting, Bob Janssen, Uta Purcell, Jo Kay, Ken Ridley, Peter Wise, Annette LeCren and Lawrie Halkett (scribe).

23 June 2014 – Booths Cottage, Nelson Lakes area
Leader: Kate Krawczyk

The ten of us set out on a stunning, crisp June morning to explore the historically rich gold fossicking areas of the Howard Valley. We parked on the side of the Howard Valley Road, not too keen on braving the four-wheel drive tracks, and set off for the Hills.

After only an hour-and-a-half of walking past the Louis Creek goldfields with its relics and gold tailings two stories high, we reached the historical Booth’s Cottage situated in a small forest clearing above Louis Creek on an old miners’ track.

The cottage was built by Sid Booth and Ray Clarke in 1933 during the Depression when both were on the government Gold Prospecting Subsidy Scheme. It was the family home of Sid and Eva Booth and their son Teddy for over 10 years. Sid was often away mining or doing other work for months at a time and Eva and Teddy stayed at the cottage.

A telephone line was connected to the hut in the 1940s. Bulbs and other plantings from the family’s garden and a variety of artefacts including old footwear and bottles are visible around the clearing and inside the hut. The hut was restored in 1995 and Ted Booth participated in the restoration work. It is hard to imagine anyone living in the cottage as it is very cold, the ceilings are low and it is so isolated in the wilderness!

We decided to carry on up to the ridgeline and met up with the Poriko Road to create a loop back to our vehicles. We found a rough track with flagging tape and headed on up.

At the top we came upon a caravan fully set up with solar panels, a clothesline etc.! Seems like this is a popular place to live because only a kilometre down the track there was another little caravan with smoke piping out of the chimney and a truck parked nearby.

One has to ask, “What are these people doing up here in the middle of nowhere in the cold and dark of winter? Why would they possibly want to live in such a cold and isolated place?” We didn’t stop and ask anyway; chances are they come up there to get away from people and the last thing they want is the Nelson Tramping Club knocking on their doors!

Along the Poriko Road we tramped and tried to find a tiny patch of warm sun to have our lunch. At this point we split into two groups – one group to carry on down the Poriko Road to the cars and the other group, who wanted a bit more of a challenge, to bush bash and navigate down a spur, along a creek (and through it a few times near the end!) back to the cars.

Participants: Kate Krawczyk, Margie and Mal Silich, Mel Venn, Simon Garton, Sue Henley, Chris Louth, Dan McGuire, Roger and Maureen Cotton.

5 July 2014 – Hackett–Browning Huts Loop, Mount Richmond F Park
Leader: Elizabeth Dooley

Five of us set off from the Hackett picnic site at 9.30am. We took the left turn at the Junction for Browning Hut and, after a discussion about how wet we wanted to be, crossed the stream for the first of seven crossings on our way to Browning Hut.

All the crossings proved safe despite the recent rains. When we came to the next junction (leading back to the Hackett Hut) we were surprised there was no signpost. We took the all-weather route as we approached Browning Hut, which was quite a scramble at times over a lot of slips.

When we arrived at Browning Hut we found two hunters there, sharpening their knives on the table but very friendly offering us hot water and conversation. It was sunny enough for us to sit outside for lunch. The trip took us three hours to the hut.

For the return journey via the Hackett Hut, we decided to try the river crossing route and found it manageable. In fact, Annette managed to finish the walk with dry feet.

It seemed a pleasant stroll back to the carpark (for 4.15pm) in good company and plenty of time to fossick for interesting toadstools, orchids and occasional gentians.

Trip leader and scribe was Elizabeth Dooley. Annette LeCren – despite being from Mapua – was kind enough to drive three of us out and back from Nelson; myself and Teresa Weuster (new to Nelson) and Abby Grassham (fairly new to Nelson).  Our fifth member was Simon Field from Richmond. He was very useful at dragging me up the slippery bits!

6 July 2014 – St Ronans Creek – Marlborough
Leader: Dion Pont

Sunday dawned fine, crisp and clear, one of the coldest mornings of the year to date.

The plan was to drive as far as the locked gate on the Rainbow Road then ride our bikes to the start of the track, so three brave members loaded bikes into the back of our leaders pride-and-joy then set off to St Arnaud to meet another hardy soul. We headed up the access road to the river crossing before the locked gate, our skilled driver hardly batted an eyelid before crossing the ford, seemingly unfazed by the boulders and deep water where others dared not go, all of us grateful to start the day with dry feet.

  Setting off on our on our bikes some of us began to remember we hadn’t actually done much biking lately. We arrived at the start of the track but along the way seemed to have somehow lost our leader. After waiting several minutes three of us decided to go back and investigate, finding our leader walking up the road having been unable to change out of first gear. It seems our leader doesn’t bestow the same tender loving care on his bike that he does on his vehicles, though I believe his attentions have been diverted elsewhere lately!

  We arrived at the track greeted by a Doc notice which warned us that the track had not been maintained since 1994. However, our leader quickly reassured us that he had been up and cleared the track himself.

We set off up the valley criss-crossing the river, following old track markers and photographing intriguing-looking icicles which hung from banks and off branches in the river.  Eventually the track markers disappeared and, after some searching, we finally made our way to what looked like the bush line, emerging at last to welcome sunshine and snow before climbing up to enjoy lunch with stunning views all around.

We headed back the way we came at a much faster pace, the track seemed much easier to follow on the way down, although some of us who are more vertically challenged got a little wet crossing the river. We eventually returned to our bikes for a cruisey downhill ride back to our vehicle before driving home with the heater cranked up and a hot bath waiting when we arrived home.

A big thank you to our leader and driver Dion Pont, fellow trampers Gina Andrews, Chris Louth and Sue Henley.

19 July 2014 – Cable Bay, Nelson
Leader: Elizabeth Dooley

Five of us set off at 9.00 am in clear, cold conditions from The Glen. We decided we didn’t want to rock-hop along the beach and instead set off up Airlie Street, took the right hand track up the hill and made our way to the airstrip where we took a break.  There was little wind and the views were magnificent.  One of the party was struggling with the hill but recovered through the QEII section of the walk, which had lovely birdsong. Three of us walked on to Sentinel Hill for lunch and great views down over Cable Bay. We made our way back to the lookout and rejoined the other two before descending via the alternative track through pine forest, which had quite a lot of wind damage, and back to the beach and the cars by 2.30pm.  Elizabeth Dooley was scribe, accompanied by Kelvin Drew, Lyn Boulton, Brenda Sinclair (a member) and Jill Drew (no relation to Kelvin).


 20 July 2014 – Mount Arthur climb – Kahurangi NP
Leader: Andrea Cockerton

A road closure earlier in the week marked a déjà vu, but thanks to the on-going commitment to keep this road open from TDC, DOC and the NZ Transport Agency, the minor slip was cleared promptly.  The main access point to Kahurangi National Park saw 15 eager trampers flock to climb Mt Arthur.  For some it was their first time, others a return to oh so familiar grounds. Likewise, a diverse mix of skill in traversing and climbing snow slopes saw the experienced assist the newbies to ensure everyone ascended and descended safely. 

We all relished the still day and with high cloud the visibility was superb. Crampons were not needed until well past the turn off to Gordons Pyramid, but what was lacking in snow was made up with enthusiasm.  The initial descent from the summit ridge proved the most challenging and required down climbing for several metres.

On the return route five delightful kea played with us. The Kea Conservation Trust note that kea have a range of noises from kea “whinny” to kea “squeals”. These birds however were kea “chortlers” and they were obviously saying “let’s just bounce, bounce and keep on bouncing, then when we are sure to be out of focus, only then will we fly like the clappers.” That is why the KCT note them to be as smart as  four-year-olds and why humans do not reciprocate a chortle when trying to catch a kea in flight.  

It was a delightful day with good company and feathered friends. Thanks to everyone who joined me, Andrea, to make this a memorable day: Kate Krawczyk, Sue Henley, Mel, Debbie Hogan, Annette LeCren, Brian Renwick, Barry James, Rod Lewis, Ray Salisbury, Mike, Chris Louth, Ken Ridley, Bob Chittenden & David Blunt ... you are all awesome!

18–22 March 2014 – Lochnagar – Mt Aspiring National Park
Leader: Pat Holland

Mike and Pat had checked out the map the previous year when they were in Aspiring National Park. It turned out to be a great circuit and it is surprising that it is not more popular.

Day 1. A bright morning was frittered away in Wanaka with packing and shopping. Then the drive into the Matukituki valley with lunch on the way. We staggered up the main track from Raspberry Flat under heavy packs (well not Gina who is a sensible go-liter). About halfway to Aspiring Hut a sign points left and straight up a poled route to Shotover Saddle. Up and up about 1000m ascent to snow grass with grand views back down into the Matukituki, across to Rob Roy and up towards Mt Aspring. Finally the rocky elevation of the saddle (5.5hrs). Adjacent to two tarns there was good camping.

Day 2. The famous early start with headlamps down through bluffs then crossing the headwaters of Tyndall Creek at about 1200m. It was good travelling on shelves for about an hour but, sticking to about 1150m as recommended by Moirs Guide, the scrub thickens and the going was very slow for the next 3–4 hours.

All this route is unmarked and we would have been better higher up, say 1300m.

We finally staggered out of heavy scrub onto the final ridge following older markers down into Tyndall Creek at the foot of the top gorge.

Here was Tunnel Burn Hut, an unlocked drover’s hut in fair condition. After a quick lunch we headed down the creek (now a modest river in low-flow) and through a another lumpy gorge – a mixture of scrub bashing and rock hopping.

Then past Petes Stream and out to the start of cattle country – broad grassy flats and magnificent Central Otago mountain ranges.

This is the headwaters of the Shotover River and there is a rough 4WD track from here on that heads out 30km towards Glenorchy (the alternate route in but through leasehold stations).

We reached 100 Mile Hut which was locked, so we camped under willows after a ten-hour day.

Day 3. We lucked out with finer weather. Down the Shotover two kilometres to Lake Stream where we followed a 4WD track to a classic cable-way over the stream. Not really needed, but we used it for dry boots.

Then, up a rather overgrown track to Lochnagar basin with a brief stop at the Goatel (a rock bivvy with a carpet of dried droppings).  Lochnagar (4 hs) looked fabulous on an absolute classic day. It is a largish lake formed about 1000 years ago when half a mountain collapsed to block the valley. Lochnigar Hut is a little gem, reconstructed by the station and volunteers about 20 years ago. A double bed and a single bed with fireplace and largish window looking up the lake. Lazy afternoon with swims, albeit brief.

Day 4. Famous early start across the foot of the lake and up a scrubby ridge. Then it was up snow grass gullies to an unnamed saddle at 1800m. Fabulous day again with no wind. This saddle looks down into Petes Creek. We went up the ridge 200m and launched out onto the scree/snow grass for a very steep sidle to Snowy Saddle (not advisable for bad weather). It is micaeous schist around here.

Finally, we reached Snowy Saddle which had a little snow on it and a great view of Mt Tyndall. We were in mountain/glacier country but a prominent ridge took us easily down to the start of tussock flats on Snowy Creek. We followed this down three kilometres to just before the gorge, then climbed a large, grassy knoll to reach tarns adjacent to Rees Saddle. A sound decision was made in the late afternoon to stop and camp here with his and hers’ tarns for bathing (8.5hrs). Also saw the first people: hikers on the Rees-Dart circuit.

Day 5. Down this popular track (an eroded highway) beside Snowy Creek to Dart Hut (2hrs).

The hikers were still breakfasting. We now followed the Dart River on a good track towards Cascade Saddle – moraine-bashing with a spooky view of the Dart Glacier’s terminal face.

We climbed to the true saddle with its awe-inspiring views of the waterfall down into the Matukituki. Crossed over Cascade Creek, then climbed to the AWOL Pylon.

A treacherous track drops into the Matukituki. A quick brew at Aspiring Hut saw us revived enough to hike out to the car and drvie to Wanaka for steak and wine. Gina’s GPS said this last day was 12 hours’ walking (33km) and 1400m vertical ascent ... too much; we should have stopped a night at Cascade Saddle.

Trampers were: Gina Andrews, Mike Drake & Pat Holland, all NTC members.


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