Trip Reports, March-April 2010


  1. Rocky Creek-Griffin Creek
  2. Hodge Creek
  3. Red Hills Hut & Plateau
  4. Lakes Taylor & Sumner
  5. Dillon Cone
  6. Lakehead Hut
  7. Sunrise Peak
  8. The Doubles
  9. Salisbury Tablelands & Mt Peel
  10. Mt Arthur & Flora circuit
  11. Raglan Range
  12. Club Night
  13. Heaphy Track
  14. Angelus Hut Opening

20–21 February 2010
Rocky Creek–Griffin Creek – Arthurs Pass National Park

Organiser: Marguerite

A late arrival at Jackson Retreat on Friday night meant Saturday morning involved a short car shuffle and then the three of us were travelling along a well-defined track above the Taipo River to Rocky Creek.
Rocky Creek was a gradual climb, boulder-hopping most of the way with the occasional sidle, where boulders were too large and the creek too deep. Well-timed for lunch, the track disappeared off into a tangle of  bush for ten minutes before coming out into a clearing surrounding Rocky Creek Hut – well above Rocky Creek.
A quick lunch, and then back into the creek for more boulder-hopping, with a whio interlude until the ‘junction’ in the creek. (Later investigations revealed this had proven to be a problem to other parties.) Despite a very obvious cairn at the junction, there was nothing to indicate which branch to take.  The rapid regrowth of West Coast bush hid any sign of previous parties making the correct route unconvincing, until a ten-minute side-trip up the wrong creek was completed. Crawling along an enclosed creek with regular moments of being hung in the bush, needing to untangle limbs and packs, ended at the long awaited slip before another haul up to the heavily-vegetated saddle. With no views.    
The route from here was down a creek, sidling around a waterfall, and then an early evening arrival at Griffin Creek Hut. This hut is idyllic. Surrounded by hundreds of flowering rata, the Tara Tama Range looming above, and whio very comfortable in the creek below. Oh yes, and the bush bath – although none of us had the energy to start the fire and heat the water. This spot was at least one person’s retreat, personal touches giving a homely feeling.
The hut was already occupied by a couple doing our trip in reverse. An attempt the summer before,  via Rocky Creek first, had resulted in them turning back after the ‘junction’ had beaten them into a retreat. Griffin Creek Hut had good camping – just a need to secure everything due to a very curious weka only too happy to sample anything.  
Sunday Morning was a comfortable walk down Griffin Creek, often disrupting whio – although they seemed happy to just move out of the way rather than fly off . Before long, the easy meander was over and the climb out of Griffin Creek appeared above. A very efficient climb, installing four limb drive on a regular basis convinced the party we would rather be climbing, versus descending, this route.  
Cloud cover at the top deemed any scenic side trip unproductive, so we followed a good track down the spur stopping for lunch in the sun beside Harrington Creek – before an early exit out to SH 73 and back to the car.  
Party were: Dion Pont, Nora Flight & Marguerite.

6 March 2010
Hodge Creek – Kahurangi National Park

Organiser: Alison Pickford

Early, I thought, for a Sunday morning, Ken Ridley, Tom Brown, Lynley Chisnall and Alison Pickford met at the YMCA carpark. However, another group of trampers on a different trip from us were already at the carpark!  So just how early is early?   (Sincere apologies to Jocelyn who was geared up to go until Alison changed the date, missed passing this info to Jocelyn, and so messed up Jocelyn’s  weekend plans entirely.)
It happened to be a gorgeous morning when we drove to Mt Arthur, chatting non-stop. Logged in at the Flora carpark shelter, walked to the appointed turnoff, disappeared into the wilderness and ...reappeared hours later. The return up-valley always seems to me to be one of the longest-feeling walks ever. Someone keeps moving Flora Hut, I reckon!
We logged out, agreed that it had been a very good day, and drove home with still  more to chat about. Explorers were: Ken Ridley, Tom Brown, Lynley Chisnall & Alison Pickford (scribe.)

7 March 2010
Red Hills Hut & Plateau, Mount Richmond Forest Park

Organiser: David Blunt

A 7am start saw eighteen early risers drive to the recently-constructed carpark near Six Mile Stream in the Wairau Valley. We set off on a new section of track through the bush. After 20 minutes this joined up with the 4WD road at the old cobb cottage which climbed up the hillside to the Mt Richmond Forest Park boundary where the new 6-bunk hut was situated at 910m.
We had an extended morning tea break here in overcast, but otherwise pleasant, conditions. Most of the party then set off behind the hut for the Red Hills Plateau. As we did so, low cloud came down, restricting visibility to a short distance and making it difficult to navigate. Mike’s GPS was put to good use in plotting our route, in case we had to rely on it when coming back. After nearly an hour of climbing, a trig point emerged, from which we descended a short distance to a small rocky outcrop where a stop was made for lunch.
Visibility was still poor – this would have been as far as we got had it not been for a sudden clearance of the cloud when all of the surrounding landscape was revealed under a blue sky.
With cameras clicking, we made our way slowly across the plateau to its north-eastern end amongst the tussock, with its tarns and partly-concealed bog holes. Eventually, we got to firmer ground on a ridge which overlooked the head of the right branch of the Motueka River, with Red Hill in the distance. By now, we had run out of time to get to the planned destination of the former Air Force hut site higher up, so steps were retraced back across the plateau to the trig point, and then onto a ridge which had cairn markers on it. Had we been able to see these on the way in it would have made for easier going by staying on drier ground.
While we were plodding across the plateau, Ruth and Beverley were enjoying a pleasant stroll down the track to Porters, which will eventually be part of the NZ-long Te Araroa foot trail.
We were all back at the cars by 5pm on what turned out to be a longer day than expected. Despite this, everyone went well.
The party included Uta Purcell, Dion Pont, Andy Clark, Raymond Salisbury, Mary Honey, Ruth Hesselyn, Beverley Muirhead, Sue & Mike Locke, Hilde Somerville, Jocelyn Winn, David Blunt and visitors Keith Morrison, Graham Davy, Lenore Jansen, Marie Lenting, Kazu Abe & Claire Marshall.

1420 March 2010
Lake Taylor / Lake Sumner

Organisers: Mark & Nolene Tullett

Day 1: One car and one motorhome travelled to Lake Taylor to be greeted by a standard Canterbury north-west gale and a vicious German wasp attacked its kinfolk. A happy hour (or two?) was spent in the six-man tent. Mark Tullett.

Day 2: After strong wind during the night at Lake Taylor, we parked the car at the Sister swingbridge entry. We started our first day-tramp with excitement, crossing the Hurunui River. Then we went down the Hurunui River to the start of Jollie Brook Stream, our leader not remembering the river crossing. We managed to cross 35 times. At first, Ken tried to keep dry feet, but soon he gave in. We arrived at the Hut around 3:20 pm. Some of us went to swim in the river, which was cold, so we didn’t stay for long, but had a good wash. Back at the hut, we had the luxury of a relaxed evening. Mary Wu.

Day 3: Jollie Brook–Hope Kiwi Lodge. Starting to walk by 8:15 am on a cool and fine morning, we arrived at Gabriel Hut in half the time for morning tea. Then, 15 mins later, we stepped onto the Lake Sumner lakeside with a strong north-west wind.
Walking on and off the lakeside, we arrived at the exit point 2.5 hours later, to go over the Hope Kiwi Saddle. We left the main track by Lake Marion and a few of us got wasp stings. On Lake Marion we saw crested grebe. Ken took us on a ‘path’ on the left-hand-side of Lake Marion he had used in the past. Then the track brought us out to open tussock grass and down to Hope Kiwi Lodge by about 5 pm. 10 mins later Ken’s neighbours turned up to join us. Nolene Tullett.

Day 4: Hope Kiwi Lodge–3 Mile Stream Hut. Today we had a late start at 9am, walking 2.5 hours to Three Mile Hut. We climbed a gentle track through beautiful beech forest. Mark had a bad leg, so going was slow. Conditions were cool as snow had fallen on the tops during the night.
About two hours into our day, Mark slipped and twisted his bad knee severely. He was able to carry on, in considerable pain, until the track started to drop down steeply. Ken and I decided to carry his pack downhill and then come back for our own packs. As we reached the valley floor, we realised the hut was a few minutes away, so arrived in four hours! Christine Hoy.

Day 5: To Hurunui Hut. Frost and starlight at 2am, already 4-degrees when we left our homely hut at 8:30am, but it never warmed to more than 10-degrees, added to that a southerly and overcast sky.
We regained 835m at morning tea, encountered lovely tarns, lots of swampy and muddy conditions, then a steady downhill, picking up the unmaintained route down McMillan Stream.
Travelling in the riverbed, route finding skills were honed all the time. I came even closer to nature when I sat down in the stream. Jokingly, we scoffed at the hotpools beyond Hurunui Hut. Who would still go that far, when all we wanted was a warming fire! Landmarks today were an abandoned bush shirt on a branch above the river, a full skeleton of a cattle beast, and after crossing the long swingbridge over the Hurunui, half an hour from the hut, three cars in a car park – after all our wilderness! Uta Purcell.

Day 6: Hurunui Hut–Lake Taylor. Six of us left the hut at 8am (the 7th member of our group hitched a ride with some other trampers who were driving out). The weather was fine and warm as we passed Lake Sumner and on to a pleasant morning tea spot, overlooking pretty Loch Katrine.
We continued on through the plains along a 4WD track, passing cattle, sheep and horses. The wind was picking up as we got our first glimpse of Lake Taylor. Our lunch stop was beside the lake, out of the wind, where we boiled the billy, relaxing in the sun. The weather was quite hot as we hugged the shady side of the road and continued on to Lake Taylor. We arrived back at the campsite at around 1.30pm, looking forward to a wash in the lake and the cold beers and wine in Mark’s campervan. Jenny Symons.

Day 7: The drive back home. Those that did not travel in the Tullett’s motorhome were driven back to Nelson by Ken Ridley. We left the foothills, craning our necks for another view of the Nelson Tops. Now we know that they belong to Lake Sumner and Canterbury. Having at last seen and experienced what is beyond the Lake Sumner road sign, we agreed unanimously that it was a good tramp.

19–21 March 2010
Dillon Cone – Clarence Valley, Marlborough

Organiser: Tony Haddon

Scheduled for 68th March, this trip was cancelled because of conflict with Landcorp’s heifers and goose shooters. It was summarily rescheduled for 19-21 March.
Join up these words etc and you’ll get the picture: Bumpy dark road (is that a pig? So it is!), frosty morning, cold river, prickly brown dead Viper’s Bugloss, running cows, steep hillside, tall, tough, tight, sharp, fence, Sweet Briar, bog, meandering stream, thistles, two black pigs with DOC marker ear-tags, shingle flats, tinkling brook, campsite, large scree, more scree, howling wind, views for ever.
Then reverse it.
Party: Gretchen Williams, visitor David Sissons, & Tony Haddon (scribe.)

21 March 2010
Lakehead Hut – Nelson Lakes National Park

Organiser: Gillian Arbuthnott

Perfect walking weather: overcast, warm and no wind – the constant sight of a silver and sometimes green lake out of which rise the sheer sides of imposing peaks, several off-track diversions, the antics of a friendly New Zealand Robin and the essence of  absolute solitude made for an enjoyable solo but scheduled Club trip to Lakehead Hut. Here, my lunchtime companions were a cloud of sandflies and two bees – hmmm, needless to say  the return journey was begun a little earlier than intended.
At a yoga workshop I attended last year the yogi’s shared philosophy was “Daily, challenge yourself mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally, otherwise life doesn’t have a lot of meaning.”  For me, this Sunday outing fulfilled some of his words of wisdom.
Participant: Gillian Arbuthnott.   

2021 March 2010
Sunrise Peak – Kahurangi National Park

Organiser: Lawrie Halkett

On 20 March, three NTC members were joined by two Canterbury Mountaineering Club members to do an Owen River–Bulmer Creek–Sunrise Peak–Owen River circuit.
Having done the trip six years ago under the leadership of Tony Haddon, the Scribe had some vague recollections about the route, but the passing of time essentially made this a whole ‘new’ experience for the entire group! This tramp  has it all – a lovely beech forest river valley, a steep bouldery creek, a squeeze along a  limestone ledge, a gorgeous alpine lake, fabulous Karst mountain tops, bracing weather, a character pub at the end of the weekend and, of course, the camaraderie of kindred spirits.
The five old blokes in the party made such good time through to Bulmer Tarn that it was decided to head on up to Sunrise Peak and camp the night.
Nestled in a hollow under Sunrise Peak the party saw out a very blustery night. In the morning the group were privy to a spectacular sight as cloud and mist billowed up from the Owen River Valley, highlighting the very jagged nature of the ridge between Sunrise and Mt Owen.
After staggering about in poor visibility the party made it down to the timberline and track.
A mighty trip was topped off by beers and ten year pies from the Owen River Pub.
The very contented five old men of the hills included Pat Holland, Barry James, Lawrie Halkett (scribe), and Andy Buchanan & Pat of the CMC.

27 March 2010
The Doubles – Mt Richmond Forest Park

Organiser: Dan McGuire

Five fit trampers drove early to Teal Saddle for an assault on the two Doubles.  We raced up in record time, pausing at intervals to enjoy the beautiful bush. The weather provided ‘just right’ temperatures for climbing.
After a brief lunch on top of Saddle Hill, and a good look at the view, we raced down, led by Sylvano, who found the shortest possible route through the bush.
Participants were Ron Mailer, Val Latimer, Hilda Somerville, Dan McGuire (leader), and Sylvano Lorandi (de-facto leader).

27–28 March 2010
Salisbury Tablelands & Mt Peel, Kahurangi National Park

Organisers: Barry James & Raymond Salisbury

We’d all been to the Tablelands before, several times each, but this trip was designed differently. Each member was to further appreciate the remarkable diversity in this corner of Kahurangi, as we headed underground.
On Saturday we had a leisurely start, parking Barry’s old wagon at Flora Saddle. Arriving at Salisbury Lodge in three hours, we noted the new wood sheds and outdoor seats. The gas stove has been replaced with a woodburner.
From here, we crossed the golden tussock basin of the Salisbury Open in a southerly direction. Over a small bush saddle, the tussock clearings recommenced. Soon we located the inconspicuous entrance to Pillar Cave, donned our headlamps, and said ‘Sayonara’ to the sunlight.
This cavern is named after a stalactite which has merged into a stalagmite, forming a giant pillar, which had been defaced by dozens of signatures dating back to 1880. Many of these pencilled names were recognisable as the pioneering settlers of the district: Beatson, Brereton, Heath, Richards, Deck and, yes!– a Salisbury girl.
15 minutes further south, we followed Richards Stream into Richards Cave, but not before posing for a group photo outside, mimicking a NTC party photo from 1935. Inside this tunnel, which Dion had apparently followed further on a previous visit, we discovered a secret cavern, which also had similar writing on the wall.
Back at the Lodge, we collected our packs and headed up the hill, rendezvousing with Marguerite at the top of Tableland – perfect timing! At Balloon Hut we made ourselves comfortable for the night.
Dion was outside at the crack of dawn, shooting the sunrise over Crusader Peak. We left him hutbound, and made an ascent of Mt Peel, enshrouded in cloud, returning to Balloon Hut within three hours.
On the way home, Barry sent us into some dodgy looking tomos. After half an hour’s exploration we emerged near Bishops Cave, then followed an old track down into Cundy’s Creek. Beyond this we located a solitary cross, marking the lonely grave of Edwin Moore, a prospector.
We then made a detour to the Dry Rock Shelter where my forefathers slept in the 1870s when mustering sheep, before building the first hut here.  In record time we returned, after another 8-hour day, to Flora carpark.
Cavers were: Uta Purcell, Dion Pont, Jocelyn Winn, Barry Pont & Raymond Salisbury (scribe).

5 April 2010
Mount Arthur & Flora Circuit, Kahurangi National Park

Organiser: Alison Nicoll

Sandra Lawn, Sara Vickerman, Pam Satherley, Karen Wardell, Audrey West, Jill Kingston, David Nicoll and Alison Nicoll enjoyed this tramp on the most perfect day. The hardest part was getting there, as one of our group took a wrong turn on the road. After a fast chase we all got back together and drove up to the Mt Arthur car-park, which was very full.
We climbed above Mt Arthur Hut for lunch, choosing a superb natural rock garden where we enjoyed the warm sun, the flowering gentians at our feet, the excellent views and the stillness of the day. The tramp down to Flora Hut was enhanced by seeing some riflemen and tits in the trees.
When we reached Flora Hut, a family group were just leaving, having spent the night there.  We were highly impressed with the teenage boys, as the mother was wheelchair-bound and they had rigged up some ropes to assist pulling the chair up the slope back to the car-park. It shows what can be done with a bit of effort. Much enjoyed by all.

2–5 April 2010 (Easter)
Raglan Range

Organiser: Ruth Hesselyn

With a reasonable weather forecast for Easter, five members plus one potential new member, headed for an interesting and energetic weekend in the Raglan Range. Water levels being low, the Leatham River was forded in a 4WD and people and gear shuttled the 15km up to the Silverstream track start.
Whilst five of us proceeded slowly along the recently upgraded bush track, Pat drove his car on to Greigs Hut ready for our return on Monday and then walked an extra 5km back to Silverstream before starting on the track, eventually catching up with the rest of us at our lunch stop.
After lunch, a steep climb 300m straight up through the bush and then a sidle around the hillside brought us to Mid-Silverstream Hut, by which time Pat had walked considerably more than the rest of us, as he discovered at one point that, during a water stop earlier on, he had left his mug behind and so returned to retrieve it.
First priority on arrival at our days’ destination was a brew, after which ablutions were performed at the nearby stream, and then more rehydrating and pre-dinner nibbles on a sunny knoll above the hut. When wasps became a nuisance it was decided to retreat indoors and prepare dinner, a very tasty pot luck concoction complete with an abundance of fresh veges, hopefully to restore energy levels ready for the next day.
Saturday dawned fine and we were packed up and heading for Bull Paddock Stream by 8.40am, initially sidling easily through bush to the head of the valley and then climbing steeply up to the bush edge and on up a spur to a saddle and tarn-speckled basin where we enjoyed a well-earned rest.
From here, we could see down Bull Paddock Stream to the bivouac sited at the edge of the beech forest 1.5 hours down the valley. Unfortunately, there were no camp-sites nearby, so while two of us settled in at the biv, the others went about ten minutes further on and set up camp in the bush edge.
After another equally delicious pot luck dinner produced by the next two cooks on the roster, most of us retired early for the night after a decision was made to stay on Daylight Saving Time till the end of the trip.
Just enough rain fell during the night to make tents wet and heavier to carry next day. Although very misty when we woke on Sunday, by the time we broke camp visibility had improved.
The route to Lost Stream Biv sidled through forest and then climbed a tussock rib to the ridge. Easier slopes on the other side were traversed until overlooking Lost Stream. Then it was descending steeply over rough and wet terrain, avoiding bluffs, until the valley floor was reached and the nicely-situated Biv part way down the valley.
With more showers likely, shelter for camping was sought in the bush edge and a tarpaulin erected to cover the camp kitchen, from which in due course, came another delectable feast. A little more light drizzle ensured the tents stayed wet to carry home.
Travel on Monday was relatively easy, partly on track and partly in the riverbed. We lunched at Siberia Hut before the final stretch down to Greigs Hut and another shuttle back and forth to the Leatham, after which a welcome coffee stop was made in St Arnaud before heading home. The happy trampers were: Ruth Hesselyn, Mike Drake, Pat Holland, Ken Ridley, Kristi Du Bois and Carole Crocker (scribe).
Thanks one and all for your contributions to a successful and enjoyable trip.  

12 April 2010
Club Night

Sherp Tucker was our guest speaker. A member of NTC, he is the Coordinator for Search & Rescue for the Northern South Island, and has had considerable experience in extricating missing persons from the bush.
First up, Sherp got groups of us to share tramping experiences. Then he went on to describe how SAR use ‘track & clue awareness’ skills to find the lost.
Sherp finished by explaining ‘what to do when you are lost.’ Although attendence was less than usual, it was a good reminder on Risk Management.

10 April 2010
Heaphy Track, Kahurangi National Park

Organiser: Jo Kay

We started this adventure from the Brown Hut end of the track and climbed steadily up a well-graded track to Aorere Shelter. On our way, we were rewarded with views back down the Aorere Valley and over to the mountain ranges to the  east of us, as we passed breaks in the bush. Another half hour brought us to Flanagan’s Corner, the highest point on the track and a short side trip to a lookout. We approached Perry Saddle Hut as the sun was setting and went to sleep to the sound of kiwi.
Leaving our packs at the hut the next morning, we scrambled up Mount Perry for a vista of what lay in store for us, the russet-coloured Gouland Downs and bush clad valleys leading down to the Tasman sea.
At Gouland Downs Hut we met up with Bob who had been unable to book into Perry Saddle Hut  and had gone the extra distance the night before to stay at this historic hut for the night. He had spent the morning scouting out the caves in the area and was able to lead us to the most spectacular one on our way to Saxon Hut.
Day Three to James Mackay (pronounced Makkee) Hut was undulating through a mixture of rocky wetlands and mossy-sided bush tracks and marked the boundary between the Buller and Tasman regions. We descended  steadily through beech forest studded with rata in flower and some unusual blue-coloured fungi.
Lunch was at Lewis Hut, situated at the confluence of the Heaphy and Lewis Rivers – the only place that the sandflies could be described as a ‘plague’ on the entire trip.
Shortly after crossing the swing bridge over the Heaphy River, we were greeted by a truly magnificent, ancient-looking rata that Uta reckoned to be larger than an 1800-year-old tree she had seen before. We were now into serious Nikau country with beautiful palms dominating the forest.
Our first taste of rain arrived shortly before reaching Heaphy Hut.  After a night of heavy rainfall, the rivers on the last stretch of the track were in full flow and the surf was rolling stones and boulders to create a background rumble to our walk along the coast. Sea spray mist helped to create an atmosphere that made us feel we were really were in the ‘Wild West’.

Heaphy walkers were: Susan Sinclair, Uta Purcell, Bob Janssen and Jo Kay (scribe).

21 April 2010
New Angelus Hut Blessing Ceremony

Alison Nicoll (representative)

It was an honour to represent the Nelson Tramping Club at this function.  I attended along with David Blunt who was there for the Waimea Club, Richard Pearson for the Alpine Club and Brian Savile for Motueka Club. We tramped in together accompanied by John Weatherston [Doc], going in via the Robert Ridge on the day prior to the event. Perfect weather and the good company made this a very enjoyable tramp. We made good time, having left Rotoiti after 1pm but were at the hut about 5.40pm.

The 28-bunk hut looks really like a lodge in the magnificent alpine setting.  Broad decks facing the tarns allow plenty of room for outdoor activity and also will help in protecting the delicate ecosystem from too many feet. The building process appears to have had minimal impact on the immediate environment and visually seems to fit the environment well. It has been built with very strong foundations, reinforced roof and super insulated to cope with the wind, cold and heavy snow expected in the winter. The new hut is 1 metre higher from the ground than the previous hut so they are hoping a bit more might be showing above the snow when it comes and are considering where the shovel should be kept!

New mattresses arrived in time for us to stay comfortably and the new fire was lit for the first time – it was very efficient and we were snug and warm.  Good ventilation vents are also provided.

The official party arrived by chopper and included the Minister of Conservation, Kate Wilkinson, Judy Hellstrom, Conservation Board, Robyn Stephens, previous hut warden, Doug McConachy, Lake Station, and iwi representatives including Archdeacon Harvey Ruru who conducted the hut blessing.

We entered the hut following several resounding blasts on a beautiful Pututara that echoed back from the hills. I felt it was a very fitting opening at the hut.  An official opening was then held at the St. Anaud Community Centre. Altogether a great effort by Doc and the contractor and a well-organised opening. Thanks to Doc and to the Nelson Tramping club for the invitation.


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