Trip Reports, September–October 2009


  1. Whispering Falls
  2. Te ao Whekere
  3. Lookout Point, Opouri Saddle
  4. Beebys Knob
  5. Inland Track, Abel Tasman
  6. Thomson Hill, Baton Saddle
  7. Belvedere Peak
  8. Cullen Creek
  9. Bullock Track–Wooded Peak
  10. Brandy Creek, Dovedale
  11. Rocks Hut
  12. Mount Arthur
  13. Mt Chittenden
  14. Asbestos Cottage
  15. Maitai-Atawhai circuit

9 August 2009
Whispering Falls & The Chromite Mines – Mt Richmond Forest Park
Organiser: Robyn Walsh

Our day together began at 9.30am outside the Stoke Post Office which included a happy catchup chat. Then we were off to the Hackett.

A very good frost was still evident on Aniseed Valley Road with numerous white patches in the shady bits. Hackett carpark, now in the sun, was quite muddy.

Over the first hour, we split into two groups, resulting in a segregated morning tea stop at the Falls Track junction. The leading group was ensconced on the picnic table, while the back group sprawled on the ground nearer to the main track. Moving right along, it was a pleasant saunter by the creek and on up through the native bush to the falls. Gentle drops of ‘water-jewels’ fell from the cliff top to give us a lovely, albeit small, display.

Lunch time approached, so we headed back to the junction, and on to the Chromite Mines track around 12.15pm. As always, it was a hot climb through this sheltered, sunny gully for 30 minutes. Wise ones had shed layers before we started. Prior to lunch, we found the short mine cut into the hill, just above the track. Our lunch stop was 10 minutes further at 12.50pm ... a pleasant spot in the sun as we munched away at the ‘Chromite Cafe’.

An hour later, when we made a move to retrace our steps, we discovered that we’d been sitting directly above the second, much longer mine. It was just by chance that someone glanced back down the bank and saw an opening in the undergrowth Jim led the way in. No torch was needed – we could stand upright inside. There were no spiders or wetas this visit.

A lovely day was enjoyed by: Gillian Arbuthnott, Beverley Muirhead, Jim Maxwell, Robyn Walsh, and visitors Ken Holmes and dog Bridie, past member Shirley Gabrielsen, and Veronica Griffiths.

Drake Photo

21–23 August 2009
Te ao Whekere
(2590m), Seaward Kaikoura Range
Organiser: Mike Drake

Thursday evening found a team of three heading towards Blenheim as our launching point for Te ao Whekere. Our dinner stop at Havelock didn’t meet our expectations, so we called into a supermarket to take on board some additional carbohydrate. Only to arrive at Lynne’s to find the kitchen lined with muffins! After tea and muffins we felt duly ready for the morrow.

On Friday we had a mandatory stop at Kekerengu for coffee and more carbohydrate which set the scene for the day. The turn-off to Pui Puhi Road was soon attained, and the 2WD car easily managed the fords.

After the driving it was time to start drawing on our carbo loading. However, soon it was time for lunch – just over from Point 1086. From here we could see the track leading down to Happy Valley Stream. Low cloud prevented any views of the mountains. A pleasant walk up the valley found us at a spot mentioned in Ben Winnubst’s book Kaikoura – Kahurangi, a guide for climbers.

Our 2004 summer campsite had been a stony, exposed area another hour up the valley. This site was grass, protected from down-draughts by a rock buttress. We dropped our packs and went further up the valley to confirm this was the better site, and check the way for the morning. That night we enjoyed a decent meal, then retired to bed early.

On Saturday at 05:40am, we were ascending the valley, past the 2004 campsite, then onto the snow. Not long after entering the basin, the day dawned, promising a wonderful morning ahead.

Once in the basin, dominated by Peak 2430, we identified a good crossing point over a spur from this peak. From the spur, the long slope to the top came into view. So, onward and upward, after a stop at 2452m, we continued.

A steeper section for the last few metres found us on the summit ridge, then a stroll to what looked like the highest point (2598m – according to the GPS) – taking five hours to climb 1400m from the campsite.

We stayed on the top for while, savouring our much earned vantage point. Then down to our camp by 1:30pm. With the sun moving off the campsite, we decided the second planned night would be back in Nelson. Thanks Lynne for your hospitality, and Carole and Mark for another great weekend.

P.S. For access contact:
Lance Godfrey, Manager Pui Peaks, Tel: (03) 319 5551.

Photos can be viewed on the Internet at:

23 August 2009  
Lookout Point, Opouri Saddle – Marlborough Sounds
Organiser: Jim Maxwell

Despite early rain that appeared to have set in, 12 trampers gathered at the church steps early on Sunday and set off.

Arriving at Opouri Saddle in mist and drizzle was no deterrent to a determined assault on the ridge, where the rocks were quite slippery after the rain. Nevertheless, as we climbed 500 metres, the vegetation was rewarding, with Astelias, ferns of all kinds, orchids and other epiphytes demonstrating that the New Zealand forest can be magnificent, even on a rainy day.

After a cold lunch we descended, and were finally rewarded with views of Duncan and Nydia Bays and beyond. Leader: Jim Maxwell.

Participants:  Dan McGuire, Val Latimer, Mary Wu, Lou Kolff, Christine Kolff, Sue Locke, Mike Locke, Uta Purcell, and guest Nicky Everton.

 29 August 2009  
Beebys Knob,
(off Tophouse Rd)
Organiser: Carole Crocker

Carole was unable to take this trip and it was taken by Jim Maxwell. The weather was overcast for most of the day but not too cold or windy. The route was up the DoC track from Tophouse Road. It was not in good condition underfoot, and washed away in many steep parts. The sun showed for only a short period around lunchtime.

The main group of trampers reached the top of Beebys, but turned back from their route to the hut, because the weather had turned colder. Some visited Tophouse hotel after the tramp and were entertained by the manager with a talk on its history and the murders.

A total of nine trampers came: NTC members Jim Maxwell, Ruth Henry, Mary Honey, Ruth Hesselyn, Jocelyn Winn, Merrick Mitchell, Ray Caird, Jane Dewar, & WTC member Jim Meyer.

5–6 September 2009
Inland Track, Abel Tasman National Park
Organiser: Jocelyn Winn

With no real enthusiasm for the longer tramping day, (and extra travelling), of the proposed crossover, we settled for the shorter walk. In perfect weather and plenty of time, we were off to the headland, together with Christine Hoy who was taking her lunch up to Holyoakes Clearing. Behind us, a Motueka Tramping Club group were off to the Anchorage.

Not very far up the hill, we paused for a morning tea break. We were unhurried and laden with weekend packs, so Christine went ahead to meet us again on her way down. Our lunch was at Holyoakes Clearing too, but somewhat later. Here, we soaked up the last of the view before the track was more bush-covered.

DOC have been busy with track maintenance and we especially appreciated their gorse cutting at Castle Rocks Lookout. Also enjoying the view across the Marahau Inlet were Sebastion and Janine, a young couple from Germany. They were pleasant company at the hut, where we were warmed by a fire, while a crisp frost settled outside. Photos of the full moon were a challenge for some and an inquisitive possum lurked nearby.

Next morning, we reluctantly left the sunny verandah in idylllic weather for the descent. Billies boiled for coffee at Holyoakes, and about three-ish, we lounged around at the Tinline picnic ara with the Motueka crowd, also on their return.

On the trip I enjoyed the company of Uta Purcell, Mary Honey and Mary Wu.

6 September 2009
Thomson Hill, Baton Saddle
Organiser: David Blunt

Our tramp started on top of the Baton Saddle, on the Tapawera–Baton Road. Before setting off, David gave us a brief rundown of the locality including showing us samples of fluorite, a mineral which was first discovered here by A. Thomson in 1889.

We strolled along a farm track then climbed to the top of an open paddock where we stopped for an extended morning tea.

It was a beautiful clear sunny day and we already had wonderful views over the Baton Valley towards the nearby Mt Arthur Range, well-covered in snow.

We continued along a track through scrub and native bush, some parts of which had been  cleared by David and others on a previous visit. A bit of a scramble through some mature bush linked up with an old road to the top of Thomson Hill.

Our lunch spot was a perfectly situated clearing with spectacular views over the Clarke Valley towards Mt Arthur in the north, to Mt Owen in the south. It was good to have a different perspective of these mountains.

From here, it was back down to the cars and a short drive to Harry Hancock’s farm for a visit to the historic Luna Hut.

This hut used to be situated in the Karamea River headwaters opposite where the Trevor Carter Hut now stands but, when threatened with demolition, was rescued by Harry and helicoptered and trucked to his farm at Glenrae.

The hut now rests in an idyllic spot beside a man-made lake. It was here we had a brew-up and yet another long and leisurely break. A very enjoyable day: a short walk to a new spot for great views and lots of opportunities for eating and talking. Many thanks to organiser David and also to Harry and his family for hosting us on their farm.

This sociable day was enjoyed by: Tom Brown, Sue Davies, Mike & Sue Locke, Alice Patterson, Pam Satherley, Maurice & Katie Cloughley, Lindsay Twiname (scribe), Ian Pavitt, and visitor Dan Helm.

Photos can be viewed on the Internet at:

12–13 September 2009
Belvedere Peak
(2114m), Rainbow Valley
Organiser: Mike Drake

Saturday morning saw five folk trudge up Rainbow Valley, expecting rain (but none came).

A tedious walk provided access to some great country and peaks. Progress up the valley was measured by the diminishing power pylons, and increase in the detail of Mt Iris which dominates the valley.

We crossed a saddle, and the Rainbow River for the last time. About three hours up the Paske Valley we spotted our five-star accommodation: Paske Hut – simple but everything you need of a hut: bunks, open fireplace, cooking area, and great views.

After a brew, we continued on to re-familiarise ourselves with the route up to Paske Saddle. A good fire greeted our return to the hut – thanks Donato. During the evening, the sky cleared, suggesting that the weather was playing out the forecast.

At 05:10am on Sunday morning we were retracing our steps from our reccy the previous afternoon. Dion had decided to explore valleys above the hut, and enjoy a more leisurely morning. Soon we were cramponing on frozen snow, listening to the pleasant crunch, crunch of crampons biting into ice – the only sound in the valley. Life is simple; steady progress, good conditions, perfect weather and a goal in sight.

As previously arranged, Donato would go no further than the saddle. With a steady wind blowing, we wasted no time starting along the 2km-long ridge. Apart from some narrow sections, no difficulties were encountered up to the first high point.

Consultation with my GPS confirmed the summit was still 600+ metres away from this first high point, up a more ‘interesting’ section of the ridge – steep and narrow. We plodded on, front pointing up a steep section, across easy ground followed by another steep section. We were progressing along the ridge from the ‘V’ notch. After 40 min from the previous high point we were on the summit, with perhaps a little relief all round.

We reversed the route to the ‘U’ notch and then headed down the face. By this time the snow had started to turn into porridge, slowing progress. Bearing right, we eventually found a spur  which took us off the mountain into the valley.

Walking back, we felt that another day in this tranquil spot would be great. But that wasn’t part of the plan, so we lunched at the hut, then tramped out. Eventually, we saw the power pylons increasing in detail as we trudged back down the valley. We arrived back at the car at around 5pm, making for a 12-hour, but very rewarding day.

A great weekend was had by Dion, Donato, Mike, Mark & Pat.
Photos can be viewed on the Internet at:

12 September 2009
Cullen Creek
Organiser: Uta Purcell

This historically interesting walkway was cut by goldminers in 1888 across the range between Linkwater and Wairau Valley. It climbs steadily and steeply, offering views to the rushing creek far below and to the bush-covered ridge at the head of the valley, skirting pine plantations before entering the bush. Up there the track has been re-routed, avoiding the private hut, and taking some of the steepness out of it. All this we saw through misty rain.

In the bush on the ridge, the track became a tramping track, entering Richmond Forest Park. We negotiated some windfall, dating back to the winter storms of 2008. For our lunch at the Village Clearing on the Waikakaho side, it really rained. The two remaining brick chimneys did not afford us any shelter.

Everyone was in good spirits, though, which saw us through as we retraced our steps, with even less visibility, down Cullen Creek to the carpark in the former mining town of Cullenville.

Happy participants were Ruth Henry, Nicki Everton (visitor), Julie Marriott (visitor), Jamie Payne (visitor), Jim Mayer (visitor WTC), and Uta Purcell.

19 September 2009
Bullock Track–Wooded Peak, Nelson
Organiser: Tom Brown

The plan for this trip was to have a look at the Bullock Track that was built (circa 1855) to haul ore samples from near Coppermine Saddle to the port.
Leaving the Maitai dam at 8.00am, we arrived on Coppermine Saddle by 11.00am via a shortcut that branches off the Dun Saddle track at Grid Ref. 027 403 849. The line of the bullock track is fairly conspicuous on the eastern side of Wooded Peak, below the bushline, but difficult to follow in places because of the overgrown vegetation.
On reaching the bush edge, we climbed straight up on to Wells Ridge, rather than prolong the day. Raymond and Jamie summited Wooded Peak, then returned via the Wells Ridge track to Coppermine Saddle.
My original intention had been to exit via Sunrise Ridge, but Dan advised that it had not been cleared since the storm, and through binoculars it looked like it had taken a battering.
We arrived back at the dam around 4pm, returning to Nelson with the sun still shining. The party was: Dan MGuire, Tom Brown, Raymond Salisbury, and visitor Jamie Payne.

20 September 2009
Brandy Creek, Dovedale
Organiser: David Blunt

This was primarily a social get together at the lifestyle farm  of Peter and Margot Syms at Brandy Creek, near Dovedale.

Before arriving at the Sym’s patch, most of those attending assembled at Faulkners Bush in Wakefield for morning tea. After this, a 1.5-hour circuit was made around the Totara Heights lifestyle blocks, where great views were afforded over the surrounding countryside.

From there, it was on to Brandy Creek where Peter took us on a farm tour through his eucalypt plantings and nut trees. While this was in progress, Margot was keeping an eye on the food being cooked in bonfire embers.

The resulting banquet was well worth the wait and greatly enjoyed by everyone in warm sunny conditions.

Those partaking were: Gretchen Williams, Alison Nicholl, Arthur Jonas, Yvonne Kyle, Ruth Hesselyn, Beverley Muirhead, Christine & Dale Hoy, Ken Ridley, David Blunt, Heather Spence, Mike Drake, Uta & Mike Purcell and Rob & Jo Kay.

It was great to see Margot making good progress after leg surgery and many thanks to her and Peter for hosting us on their farm.

 26–27 September
Rocks Hut, Mt Richmond Forest Park
Organiser: Jo Kay

We left cars at the caretakers house then walked down the side of the dam back to the footbridge and followed the South Branch of the Maitai River to Dun Saddle.

The first part up to Maitai Cave turnoff wanders through mature beech and fern forest. Crossing over the river, the vegetation changes to scrubby open areas where the new well-graded track zigzags uphill.

We reached Rocks Hut just on cuppa time. Jamie spent the rest of the afternoon ‘having fun with the axe’, producing enough firewood for many more nights. Lee, Uta and I had a wander up to the lookout where we could see the famous ‘rocks.We were joined by two women who had come up from The Brook, and settled in for a convivial evening of telling lies and playing cards.

On our way back, Lee, Marijke and Jamie scrambled up Dun Mountain for views, while Uta botanised and I read.

Lee and Marijke swam in the river at the caves turn-off. We found Jamie catching a few zeds further along the track.

I was thrilled to complete the tramp, having suffered a dodgy knee for several weeks. The new Leki poles proved their worth and in fact, my knee is now markedly improved.

Members were: Jo Kay, Uta Purcell, with visitors Lee Nixon, Marijke Boers & Jamie Payne.

27 September 2009
Mt Arthur – Kahurangi National Park
Organiser: Pat Holland

The scheduled long day trip to North Twin changed into a regular day on the hill for the party of four. The first day of daylight saving and soft snow conditions took their toll, so discretion ruled.
An hour from Flora car park saw us to Mt Arthur Hut in the sun. The offer of a brew from Raymond was declined in favour of pressing on while it was still cool – but to no avail. The breakable crust was already softening when we reached the Gordons Pyramid turn-off. So, some flourishing of ice axes and a steady plod to the summit where lunch was held in bright, mild conditions. Excellent views across the route to the Twins. It was a relief to see Ruth finding a return to form as she bounded across the snow.

Lassitude from the soft snow dispelled thoughts of a side trip to Winter Peak. High cloud edged across as we made our way back down the ridge, preceeding the scheduled rain front. However, the excellent weather was maintained to the vehicle (ca 8 hours) and we were the only people on Mt Arthur that afternoon – mountain, hut and track.

Party: Pat Holland, Kazuhiro Abe, Raymond Salisbury & Ruth Hesselyn.

  3 – 4 October 2009
Mt Chittenden (2205m), near Nelson Lakes National Park
Organiser: Ruth Hesselyn

To go or not to go, that was the question. The Saturday forecast for Nelson Lakes was showers then snow flurries down to 700m, clearing Sunday. We were to camp then climb. No one liked Plan B so we decided to continue with the original plan and check out Connors Creek if nothing else.

Five of us plus gear squeezed into Dion’s (and Barry’s) large 4WD and headed to Connors creek, the last boggy and rut riddled stretch to the hut being negotiated with a bit of nifty 4W driving. Packs on and five minutes later the drizzle started, then the snow. My original intentions of camping in tussock country opposite the climb quickly changed to the bush covered flats at the head of the valley. But, we zapped by these and were halfway up the south branch before I realised the mistake. A quick discussion then decision to carry on and see what we could find. Packs were left at the bush edge while we explored. First obstacle, a huge pile of avalanche debris (the result of last years record snow fall), then we checked out possible sites - acutely angled bush clearings, bumpy tussocks and exposed flats, but given the weather, nothing appealed.

A hasty retreat to somewhere near the originally intended campsite ensued. After tents and tarps were erected, clammy clothes changed and hot drinks consumed - it almost seemed enjoyable. In any case, the walk would have been too short without the campsite hunt. As it was, Grant (the newcomer) went for a wander late afternoon while the rest of us retreated to our bags for some warmth and slumber. The camp awoke at 4am to Mike’s wakey, wakey. A peek out of the tent revealed stars, great. So it was all on. Back up the hill an hour later and by daybreak we had started up a steep gully. Route finding on Chittenden can be tricky and it wasn’t until we had climbed partway along the adjoining spur that the travel looked straightforward. Despite the previous day’s snowfall, conditions were good so crampons were donned and the uphill plod continued.

But, oh no, the weather god’s hadn’t finished with the bad weather. The clear skies gradually clouded over, the tops disappeared then it started snowing. We continued on to the base of a steep gully and reassessed our situation. Mike’s GPS indicated that we were 150m (in height) from the summit. It was tempting to peek over the next ridge but with decreasing visibility and rapidly fading footprints I opted for retreat.
Back at camp, lunch and a hot cuppa under the now snow encrusted tarp was enjoyed, a quick pack up then it was back down the valley, with the snow still falling. Thanks to the following for a (surprisingly) enjoyable trip. Dion Pont, Grant Standing (visitor), Mark Stevens & Mike Drake.

12 October 2009
Asbestos Cottage, Kahurangi National Park
Organiser: Barry James

We set off from Richmond at 8.15am, with the first stop being the Ngarua Cave lookout where we had a great cloudless view over Tasman Bay and the Eastern Ranges from Marlborough Sounds down to Nelson Lakes. All the tops had remnants of the low snowfall experienced on Friday evening. The view was much photographed before we got back in the cars and went five minutes on to Harwoods Lookout. The view from here was of the Golden Bay Mountains and the Tablelands. Mt Peel was an absolute standout with a long crest of pure white snow.

Back in the cars and down to the 'rat trap' turn-off where we were greeted by an elderly sheepdog lying in the middle of the road. It transpires he was alerting us to a large mob of sheep being driven down the road by five much younger and more agile dogs. Cameras were pointed out of the car windows to capture this, now, fairly rare sight.

On, up the Cobb Valley Road where there were further sightings of the native clematis in full bloom which we had seen earlier on the Takaka Hill. Soon we were at the start of the track.
There were three or four fresh windfalls over the track and we had a couple of creek crossings that evidenced the amount of rainfall over the previous weeks. But overall, the track was dry and easily walked.

The collection of odds and ends (bits of tools, footwear etc.) that had been placed around the Asbestos mine sign was impressive - as was the scale of the mine workings, the later being greater than expected. It was easy to find small rocks with veins of asbestos running through them.

A bit of a clamber up to Asbestos Cottage where lunch was enjoyed in warm, spring sunshine, surrounded by Mrs Chaffeys spring bulbs and wild mint, the latter giving a boost to the organiser’s sandwiches. Some of the party enjoyed a cat-nap in the sun after lunch.

Two trampers passed through who were checking trap-lines for FOC (Friends of the Cobb). After an inspection of the cottage and the lovely spring that may have served as water supply and bathroom, we headed off back to the cars where we were welcomed by a robin and a weka. It was a beautiful bright, lushly coloured spring day enjoyed by all.

Participants: Barry James (organiser), Sara Vickerman (scribe), Sue & Graham Locke, Ross Price, Uta Purcell, Duncan Davidson, Julie Marriott (visitor) & Virginia Hogarth (visitor).

18 October 2009
Maitai–Atawhai circuit

Organiser: David Blunt

Following a day of rain and the prospect of more to come ten optimists set off from the Botanical Reserve to follow up the track alongside the Maitai River.

The proposed crossing point over the river on the concrete ford could not be used because there was too much water coming over it so a minor detour had to be made by going up along the side of the golf course to the entranceway bridge and back down the road on the other side to Sharlands Creek.

From here we followed up the forestry road to a track leading down to the creek and the start of the Supplejack Trail on which we zig zagged our way up through some attractive native bush with large matai trees to the lookout seat on the Hira forest boundary ridge.

After a short stop here, and with low cloud coming in from the west, we headed south along the forest boundary to the foot of Kaka Hill, crossed the fence, and proceeded toward a small open clearing with a good view – an excellent spot for having lunch.

It was mostly downhill for the return trip back on a farm track to the wide grassy clearing on the ridge leading to the Botanical Reserve.

Apart from a brief passing shower, the weather conditions turned out to be quite pleasant for the 14km, 6-hour trip. This was enjoyed by Ruth Hesselyn, Ray Caird, Brenda Griffin, Mike Locke, Gillian Arbuthnott, Barry & Dion Pont,  Dan McGuire and visitor Norm.