Trip Reports, July/August 2009

5 July 2009 Basic Snowcraft, Mt Arthur, Kahurangi NP

Organiser: Mark Stevens 

It was that time of year again – ­­­short days, long nights, and snow all around – must be time for snowcraft! With snow falling to low levels, and a dodgy weather report, off we went to Mt Arthur.

Alas, the road up the Graham Valley was fraught with danger, so we parked the car. However, Dion’s trusty 4WD made it all the way up to Flora carpark. From here, we made fast progress to Mt Arthur Hut, where a visiting weka would not stay away from our lunch.

Crampons and ice axes were used for a short stint up ‘the hill’, but with a howling wind and falling snow, staying upright was proving hard… so not many skills were learnt.

Back to the hut and down to the carpark in double quick time. At the carpark we helped excavate a car from the snow.

All in all – “lots of snow; not much craft.” Thanks to Dion Pont, Ruth Hessleyn, Ulla (visitor), Annie Hill and Mary Wu.


5 July 2009 Marsden Scout Track

Organiser: David Blunt

Under a threatening sky with rain forecast, 12 optimistic club members and two visitors left the Barnicoat Walkway carpark at 9.15am, heading up the Scout Trail to the top of the range. For one or two it was a bit of a struggle but spirits were revived after a rest stop at the top for drinks and a bite to eat.

At the firebreak leading down to the Roding, Gillian left us to return back via the roadway to the carpark. The firebreak, although steep in places, was not too slippery due to an absence of frost. Everyone managed the descent to the Roding Dam without mishap.

Then it was on to the caretaker's house where a little presentation was made to retiring caretaker Neil Fitzsimmons who was also thanked for his friendly assistance to the Club over the previous six years. Lunch was held in what someone thought looked like a Druids Circle just below the Scout Den.

After this we followed the valley down for about 2km and back up a forestry road to the top of the Walkway. This was not without some anxious moments, as one member after stopping for a comfort stop, took a wrong turning immediately afterwards and failed to rejoin the party. Phone calls to the caretaker were unsuccessful and, as we later found out, he luckily 'intercepted' the missing member on his way out of the valley, then kindly drove her back to Marsden Valley. Perhaps there was a lesson to be learned here of the need to have a tail-end-Charlie in a larger group. Fortunately, all ended up well in what was a good day's outing with the rain managing to stay away.

Participants: Andy Clark, Uta Purcell, Gillian Arbuthnott, Gretchen Williams, Mary Honey, Katie and Maurice Cloughley, Dan McGuire, Sara Vickerman, Barry James, Paul Fisher, Graham Davy and Marion Janke (visitors).

1112 July 2009, Mt Weld (2114m) Rainbow Valley

Organiser: Mark Stevens

A short walk in to a hut, then a snow-covered Mount Weld to climb in the morning ... could we ask for anything better?

Well, not all was to go as planned. The key was collected from Rainbow Station, a warning was given about the road conditions at St Rohans Stream: "chains will be needed." (This obstacle did not faze us.) Chains were fitted on wheels and 4WD engaged. Safe passage was made through Rainbow Valley, and a short walk up river flats to the hut was made in good time.

Fire was lit, cups of tea made, tents were erected and lunch was eaten around a cosy fire with snow all around.

Sounds great! but this is not why we go into the mountains; to sit by warm fires, drink cups of tea and eat cake. (Yes it is - Ed.)

So, boots were placed on feet and a party sent to locate the track to take in the morning. It was found and followed up past the bushline. With the dropping of the sun to the West, we retraced our way to the hut ... where the warm fire and cups of tea and cake awaited us again. Dinner was cooked by candle light and the hiss of the gas stove. More cups of tea and cake were consumed.

Conversations ebbed and flowed as dinner was eaten, and of course, more cups of tea. Alarms were set for 5.00am. Sleeping bags were fluffed. Zippers were pulled and heads laid down to rest.

"It's snowing!" came the cry at 5.00am. The fire was stoked and billies boiled. Wheaties eaten. Jackets and boots were put on.

Making our way up the spur of Mount Weld, the snow became soft, so turns at the front were the order of the day, for each party member. The wind was strengthening with altitude gained. It was snowing, so no view was to be seen  none of the party became peak-baggers. We decided to return to the hut, and leave Mount Weld to be bagged another day.

At the hut, packs were packed, and the short walk out to the cars was taken. Another good weekend in the mountains!
The party was:
Mike Drake, Ruth Hesselyn, Carole Crocker, Dion Pont, Jane Dewar, Chris (visitor), Pat Holland and Mark Stevens (scribe).

12 July 2009 Moutere Cycle Tour

Organiser: Rosemary Weir

Seven keen cyclists assembled at Mapua and left for a day's ride at 10.00am.  We rode up Seaton Valley, paused at the saddle, and turned left into Old Coach Road. At the end of Old Coach Road we turned onto the Inland Highway and rode into Upper Moutere.

A quick comfort stop at the village, and the decision was made to continue on to Motueka via Central Road. Central Road is an interesting and quiet alternative to the Inland Highway. We sped down to the saltwater baths for a picnic lunch on the Reserve, then off along the Coastal Highway to the Jester House Cafe for a well earned cuppa.

We then turned off the Coastal Highway into Marriages Road and wound up a hill at the back of Ruby Bay. We were rewarded with a great, long, windy downhill, which was a real treat to finish off the ride.

Back onto the Highway at Pomona Road and a short ride back to the vehicles. Altogether 53kms. A very nice, sociable ride, with great views, a few hills and some cruisy downhills.

Participants were: Ken Ridley, Alison Nicoll, Pam Satherley (visitor), Greg  and Alison Pickford and visitor Mitch Bloom with scribe/organiser Rosemary Weir.


19 July 2009 Airport Perimeter Walk, Nelson

Organiser: Katie Cloughley

A walk on the wild side this is not. But for a Sunday morning Winter walk with compatible company, this is a very pleasant way to spend a couple of hours.
Thanks to ‘local knowledge’ (Gillian Arbuthnott), a detour to the end of the peninsula then saw us continue along the beach before regaining the fence line at the Golf Course.
Gillian scored more Brownie points by delivering Katie and Annie back to town – thanks Gillian! And a thank you also for cheery company from Annie Hill, Fiona Nisbet (visitor) and, (for part of the walk) Lynn Charters and her Chinese student Zuiwen (visitor).

19 July 2009 Mount Stokes, Marlborough Sounds

Organiser: Pat Holland 

Four souls in the little red Suzuki made for a cozy three hour drive to the start of the track. The road from Havelock is exceedingly winding, but picturesque, as it tracks along the peninsula between Kenepuru Sound and Queen Charlotte Sound. All the baches and resorts were quiet in the early morn of mid-Winter. After a flatty and quick wheel change, we wound up Titirangi Road to the saddle at about 500m a.s.l., overlooking Anakoha Bay.

The weather was cool, but pleasantly calm and fine, as we headed into the bush around the flank of Mt Robinson. The good track then went more directly up through surprisingly dense forest. After two hours of steady effort, we emerged onto tussock very close to the summit of Mt Stokes (1208m) with broad patches of snow. This is the highest point in The Sounds and we were rewarded by superb views on all sides, including D’Urville and Stephens Islands. The Wellington Coast and snowy North Island Ranges were visible in the NE and Tapuae-o-uenuku and Mt Alarm to the South.

It was sunny with a cooling breeze, so we took lunch in the lee of the repeater station before romping down (a bunch of teenagers from Outward Bound trudging up). On the drive homeward, we stopped at a Beach Reserve for a brew using Pat's ancient Thermette which surprised some by how quickly it came to the boil.

For a modest tramp, this is rather a long day trip with a lot of driving. However, it was well worthwhile for the sights on a clear Winter’s day. Day trippers were: Pat Holland, Uta Purcell, Ruth Hesslyn and Chris Olds (guest).

25 July 2009 Dew Lakes, Bryant Range

Organiser: Gretchen Williams

Twas a crisp and gorgeous morning. As we got higher, the views unfolded – the caretaker's house and dam, the pylons and ‘road’ up to the Maungatapu Saddle, the Western Ranges covered in snow. The vegetation alternates a lot between beech forest and interesting mineral belt with the odd rocky outcrop – Maurice perched on most of them. The Rush Pool (it had water in it!) and argillite quarry were explored and we reached Dew Lakes in time for lunch.  What a gorgeous little vista with the ‘lake' surrounded by yellow green vegetation and stunted beech trees (looking particularly Japanese-like) with Fishtail rearing up in the backdrop and blue, blue sky all around. And the return trip was just as enjoyable!

25–26 July 2009 Mt Fyffe, (1602m) Seaward Kaikoura Range

Organiser: Uta Purcell

For this snow trip, in perfect conditions, I was joined by Carole Crocker, Marguerite Verheul, Jocelyn Winn, Dion Pont, Alison Nicoll, and Ruth Henry. We left Friday night, and stayed with Lynne in Blenheim to avoid icy roads. An indication of our eagerness was that we were always ready well before the agreed departure time.

To find five cars already in the Mt Fyffe car park was a bit of a surprise on this early, frosty morning. During the drive we had enjoyed great views of Mt Tapuae-o-uenuku and the Kaikoura Ranges under deep snow. Snow covered the track, a wide and well maintained 4WD road, well below the hut at approximately 1090m. Dion and Carole reached Mt Fyffe Hut easily in 2 ½ hours, the rest of us in the next half hour. There were stunning views down to Kaikoura – a Google-map-like landscape – and up to glistening peaks ahead.

Luckily, trampers were leaving the hut so we had it to ourselves. (Until an American couple arrived to share the last free bunk.) Lunch was outside in the warming sun, taking in the views.

The afternoon provided more photo opportunities, and one big task: to find suitable fire wood. The wood shed held nice, big rounds of wood, but the axe must have been buried somewhere under knee-deep snow. A lot of expertise amongst us found ways to deal with the firewood situation. We got the hut so warm that it became too hot for sleeping, but helped to dry more firewood for the next trampers.

Everyone still felt comfortable the next morning and we climbed  to the top of Mt Fyffe in 2 ¾ to 3 hours. It was calm and brilliant, the snow powdery, crusty in the shade; because of a cloud bank on the horizon we were unable to see the North Island. Dion went further to the saddle in the direction of Uwerau and Manakau, mainly to look at the round trip that leads back via Kowhai Hut. For the descent, we put on crampons. Another hour was enjoyed at the hut for early lunch and a tramping club style clean-up. The total descent today was approximately 1500m, reaching the car park at 2.00pm.

So, we fitted in a visit to seals, playing under a waterfall in Ohau Stream, and a top-up for us at The Store in Kekerengu. Two relaxed days in the snow, but some of us also had a mission: Dion a new camera to get the best out of, and Alison to retrace her mother’s footsteps, who had climbed Mt Fyffe in 1930. Alison deposited a photographic record of this event in the Hut.

Ruth's Rainbow Ramblers

1 August 2009 Mt McRae (1878m), Nelson Lakes NP

Organiser: Ruth Hesselyn 

Rainbow Skifield was open so we were off. Ruth sweet-talked the driver of a large ute to transport four members of our group up the skifield road. Rob transported the remaining three in the Kay family's Suzuki Jimny.

With ice axes at the ready,we donned crampons and headed up ino the West Bowl to practice self arrests on the first likely-looking slope. Continuing upward, we followed Ruth, who made little butterfly footsteps in which we sunk down through the thin crust into soft snow. Raymond was then sent ahead to create some nicely-spaced footholds that even us shorties could stride into. Mount McRae drifted in and out of mist so we had ever changing views down to Lake Rotoiti and across to the Robert Ridge. We lunched to the lee of the summit where we were nicely sheltered from the crisp breeze blowing in from the West.

Chris and Ruth took turns to lead us further along the ridge towards a saddle. As time seemed to be racing by, Ruth decided to short-circuit the original plan. She taught us more snowcraft: how to make steps, and how to descend backwards down a near-vertical slope. Down-climbing around to a point where we could walk in a more normal posture, we proceded back to the skifield.

Special note must be made of Ruth's noble gesture in keeping track of us tail-end-Charlies. As a result of this sacrifice, she missed out on her much-anticipated coffee and cake at the cafe. Also, our trusty leader managed to secure the services of the same ute for transport down the mountain.

Fellow mountaineers were: Ruth Hesselyn (trip leader) Uta Purcell, Jane Dewar,Raymond Salisbury, Merrick Mitchell, young Chris Olds (visitor), Jo Kay (scribe) and transporter, chain-fitter and skier, Rob Kay.


2 August 2009 Mapua Meanders

Organiser: Gilliian Arbuthnott

Aranui Park was our starting point to head off into the labyrinth of suburbia. This provided ample opportunity to observe and comment – more than one Amex required here – and weigh up the pros and cons of the local flora before hitting the beach at Grossi Point Reserve.

A joyful tui, high up in a tree, chorused its approval of our arrival. The tranquil vista of motionless blue water framing Rabbit Island, and an equally stunning blue sky, was the backdrop for the distant Richmond Ranges. The receding tide allowed for ample beach space to wander along. We observed the patterns of erosion caused by the volume of water which moved ceaselessly in and out of the narrow channel which separates Mapua and Rabbit Island. Seabirds, shells and a myriad of smooth pebbles abound along the shoreline. Golden feathery fronds of toi toi line the causeway.

We negotiated a gentle corner and were rewarded by the unfolding vista of the coastline curving gently towards the Kina Cliffs, Motueka and beyond, and watched the waters of Tasman Bay moving undecidedly in various directions around an exposed sand bar.

A sharp left turn, a quick clamber over large rocks, a sedate ascension of strategically-placed concrete steps, a cross-country traverse of some private land (well, we didn’t see the sign until afterwards) eventually brought us back to our starting point.

Purses were retrieved from the car and four pairs of feet danced in delight along the footpath in anticipation of coffee and cake at The Naked Bun. Then, it was home to the excitement of a variety of planned activities: a barbecue lunch, an early afternoon concert and the pleasure of a satisfying novel. Mapua Meanderers were: Beverley Muirhead, Gillian Arbuthnott, Jo Kay and Val atimer.


8 9 August 2009 Lake Angelus Hut, Nelson Lakes NP

Organiser: Bob Janssen

With perfect weather and good snow conditions for the weekend, our party left the Mt Robert carpark shortly after 9.30am.

We climbed in our crampons, along Robert Ridge at a leisurely pace enjoying the scenery, arriving at Angelus Hut at about 6.00pm. (We used an ice axe to hack a hole into the frozen lake to fetch much needed drinking water. Dion used a normal axe to 'modifiy' the woodbox in order to stoke the fire.Ed)

Early next morning, Mike, Marguerite, Paul and I departed the hut under darkness, to climb Mount Angelus (2075m). After enjoying the view from the summit, we returned to the hut, had a brew, and set off after the remainder of our party. After a lunch break near Julius Peak, we traversed the tops back down to our cars.

Participants: Bob Janssen, Dion Pont, Mike Drake, Raymond Salisbury, Marguerite Verheul, Carole Crocker, Jane Dewar, Annie Hill, Jo Kay, and visitors Ulla Norlander and Paul Richardson.


16 August 2009 – Lookout Range

Organiser: Andy Clark

Out of a possible nine for this trip, only five trusted the organiser’s judgement on the weather and turned up for this trip to Billie’s Knob, (on Mount Owen.) On reaching the Dart Ford it was found to be impassable, so Dion suggested an alternative trip onto the Lookout Range from the Dry Weather Road. The stream at the start was also swollen but our fearless crew bush-bashed up the side until a suitable crossing was found. After a steep scramble, the track was reached.

Good progress was made on this easy gradient track with views expanding as we climbed. Sub alpine terrain was finally reached and old campsites pointed out by Dion, he being the only member to have been here before. Giant rocks were sighted on the skyline, but due to our late start we fell half an hour short of our destination, having all decided on a 2.00pm turnaround – leaves a bit to discover on a future trip.

Our return was uneventful and the stream crossing at the end much easier due to the fall of the river level. A thoroughly enjoyable day, with a fantastic team and good weather, coats staying where they should be – inside packs.

People who don’t mind a dodgy forecast were: Andy Clark, Dion Pont, Jane Dewar, Sue Davies and Graham Davey.

17 August 2009 Boulder Bank, Nelson Haven

Organiser: René Visser

A group of ten walkers picked our way amongst the boulders and discovered quite a different view of Nelson from that normally seen. The way was punctuated with a 'shag tree' which was bare, except for about ten nests with shags sitting in them. The resourceful creatures had made use of flotsam and their nests sported brightly-coloured bits of plastic in their makeup.

We were then intrigued by the baches and their gardens of red hot pokers, cactii and some flowering daffodils. Herrie left his business card in case they needed a renovater.

We lunched at the base of the lighthouse then explored the interior. The ground level has a great photo display of the lighthouse's history which was home to three families at one stage. We were able to climb up to the light and wander around the tiny terrace on the outside at the top. We carried on down to The Cut, disturbing a seal lounging on the rocks, and a hare that raced off to who-knows-where.

On the way back we collected what rubbish we could manage to carry.
Thanks to René Visser for being our leader. The followers were Jo Kay (Scribe), Susan Sinclair, Jim Maxwell, Mike and Sue Locke, Ulla Norlander (visitor), Herrie Ten Oeven (visitor), David Blunt and Ruth Hesselyn.