Trip Reports, Sept-Nov 2018












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  1. Golden Bay Weekend | Wharariki, Puponga, Rawhiti Cave
  2. Winter Traverse | Nelson Lakes National Park
  3. Mt Fishtail | Mt Richmond Forest Park
  4. Archers Track, Opouri Saddle | Marlborough Sounds
  5. Julius Summit | Nelson Lakes National Park
  6. Leatham, Saxton, Severn | Leatham Conservation Area
  7. Brook Sanctuary Tracks |  Nelson
  8. Rough Creek, Arnaud Range  | Nelson Lakes National Park

1–2 September | Golden Bay weekend
Leader: Brian Renwick

Michele and I chose to make the most of the weekend with Brian in Golden Bay by travelling over the hill on Friday night. After nice fish ‘n’ chips in Takaka, we arrived at Brian’s at a reasonable time to formulate a plan for the weekend.

We rose early in order to spend time on Wharariki Beach before high tide at 9:30am. There was no one else there. After exploring some of the rocks at the eastern end of the beach, we then had a neat experience watching 5–6 seal pups playing in a small pool. They put on quite a show and came quite close.

From there, we dodged a few sea surges around the rocks before climbing up to do a circuit on the Green Hills loop track. It was lambing season so it was quite a privilege to be there that time. We came across a cast sheep, fed it some grass and helped it move.

In the afternoon we went to Cape Farewell and on to the Pillar Point lighthouse. It was at this point that Brian volunteered to return to the van and move it to the base of Farewell Spit. This meant that Michele and I could continue along the coast on the Puponga Hilltop Track.

I persuaded Brian to take a shortcut off track to the van. It was fun watching Brian bush crash through two-metre-high scratchy scrub! He was, however, quite skilled and only received a few scratches. Who’d want to be boring and follow the track anyway? Michele and I exited through grassy paddocks, once again grateful that the farmer allowed people across during lambing season.

That night we enjoyed roast dinner. The weather closed in overnight, so Sunday morning was a leisurely start with a server of Brian’s famous omelettes, with home-grown eggs, of course.

We visited Wainui Falls which were in full flow so this involved wearing one’s raincoat. It was a lovely walk to and from the falls.

Our second stop was Rawhiti Cave, ‘nationally significant as it has possibly the most diverse and extensive entrance and twilight-zone flora of any cave in New Zealand’ and has ‘stalactites on the cave ceiling growing outwards towards the sunlight’. Due to the previous rain, the track was greasy and required some care while returning to the car.

Wholemeal Café was closed but we found another café in town before returning to Brian’s to pack up and return to Nelson. Thank you, Brian, for showing us around your back yard.

We were: Michele Cunningham and Pete Phipps (scribe) guided by local Brian Renwick.


19–22 September | Nelson Lakes National Park Grand Traverse
Leader:  Simon Garton

Day 1 | Author: Brian | Lewis Pass Carpark to Ada Pass Hut

Brian and his brother David, the chauffeur and chanteur, arrived at Pete’s for an 8am rendezvous, where Kate, Andrea and Simon were already waiting, having picked up Mike at Kohatu.

After lunch at Maruia Springs, we disgorged from David’s seven-seater at the St James car park and were soon underway up Cannibal Gorge.

There was no certainty about when and where the trip would finish, but the plan was to be collected at Sabine Hut on Monday morning by Hamish Simpson, the Rotoiti water taxi operator (the Rotoroa service being temporarily suspended while the operator was enjoying a low season break).

As it turned out, we kept to the schedule perfectly! We are grateful for the service Hamish provided, at no extra charge, despite having to tow his boat between the lakes and back for this one-off.

The tramp to Ada Pass Hut was leisurely, and we arrived in good time to enjoy the last two hours of daylight. Tayla, a young lady from Christchurch, was good company. She was the last person we saw until Hamish at Sabine.

Day 2 | Author: Pete | Ada Pass Hut to Bobs Hut

A chilly 6.30am start had us filled with anticipation as we left the hut and started climbing up the rocky, tussocked slope to the head of the valley.

As we strapped on our crampons we surveyed the best route up the snow-covered slope to the first of the tarns. We continually broke through the snow crust as we trudged down to the valley floor and thankfully, some solid ground. Our now foot-weary group spent another hour wandering down beside the West Matakitaki River before we reached a formed track below Gloriana Peak. Our expectations of picking up the pace were quickly dashed when we encountered the first of many large areas of wind-throw. After much scrambling, muttering and contortionism we fought our way through the maze of tangled trees to finally reach Bobs Hut just on dusk, after an eleven-hour day. A blazing open fire warmed the small eight bunk hut as we settled in for a hot meal and well earned kep.

Day 3 | Author: Kate

Bobs Hut to Upper East Matakitaki Valley

We left Bobs Hut early and proceeded up river flats and forested track. We were concerned we would encounter more windfalls, but lo and behold, this track was maintained. You could see evidence of cleared treefall all the way along – thanks DOC.

Our first challenge of the day was my first three wire bridge – something I’ve been wanting to tick off my tramping bucket list. So, though I was rather nervous, I was excited too. I put my head down and focused on my feet, one step in front of the other. My biggest problem was my short stature. Trying to wrap my arms around the top wires while my feet and pack were pushing the bottom wire down. I felt like my arms were getting stretched to their limit as I was hanging on for dear life!

We continued up to East Matakitaki Hut for a leisurely lunch in the sunshine. This is possibly the club’s next hut project, so I did a quick survey of the hut’s condition. It is in very good nick but still has lead roofing nails which should be replaced. It also needs a woodshed as well as some minor structural issues.

From there, it was a bush bash up the East Matakitaki to find a bushline campsite to give us a head start on to the snow in the morning.

We settled in for the evening around a campfire before turning in early.














Day 4 | Author: Mike

Upper Matakitaki East Branch–Upper Waiau River

The previous day’s decision to camp beyond East Matakitaki Hut put us in a good position to get onto the snow early in the day. Once out of the bush we were soon making our way up a dry stream bed aiming for a gully that would take us into the basin below D’Urville Pass.

A small avalanche rumbled down not far from where Peter and Brian were donning crampons. A hare was observed to extricate itself from the moving snow then bound clear. Was it the culprit that triggered the avalanche, or an innocent caught up in the drama? Snow conditions were good so the basin was quickly attained to gain D’Urville Pass.

After a short down-climb we started to traverse around the head of D’Urville Valley. A decision was made to descend to the gully that leads to Thompson Pass. Once over this pass, we were in the Upper Waiau Valley. Light snow was falling. 

Once off the spur from Lake Thompson, crampons were removed while patches of snow rapidly turned into a bush track on the true left.

We quickly left the inhospitable snowscape to find a great campsite amongst tall trees. A fire-side dinner on the beach by the Waiau River rounded the day off nicely.

Day 5 | Author: Andrea

Upper Waiau River to Blue Lake Hut

We caught sight of Waiau Pass on our descent from Thompson Pass. ”It looks a bit sketchy, doesn’t it?” Brian remarked, sporting a manic grin.

  Ascending from the Waiau Valley, we were now on the Te Araroa Trail. Rather than seeking comfort in the poled route, (the markers felt like an intrusion into the landscape), we picked our own route to the saddle, deviating east to avoid the steeper slopes. While it is, perhaps, the more technical of the passes to ascend, we initially front pointed the steep, lower slopes. 

Once at the saddle, we were treated to amazing views down to Lake Constance, nestled under the impressive Franklin Ridge.  Simon shimmied up a wee peak as we relaxed, enjoying the ambience and a well-deserved lunch. 

The descent was mainly butt-sliding down to the tributaries that fed Lake Constance.












Ahead lay our nemesis, at least for one member: the last bluff to climb to the upper terraces above the lake. Recalling the sad fate of Andy Wyatt, who perished after falling off this bluff three years prior, changed the perspective of an otherwise moderate, short climb.

Somewhat wobbly, she was supported with a view to traversing east of the lake. The water levels were low and it looked do-able, apart from one bluff near the northern end. The rest of the team practically skipped up, then slogged their way through deeper soft snow on the terraces.

Meanwhile on the other side of the lake, it was a gentle stroll to the bluff, where the cruisy walk came to an abrupt end.

In sight of the shore, Andrea was having a Bear Grylls moment. Or rather, Bare-and-Grin-it moment. Inflating her Black Wolf Pillow, she transported her precious cargo by swimming and propelling herself off underwater rocks 20m around the bluff. Yikes it was cold!

We all reconvened at the hut after our third 11-hour day. Brian and Peter kept the home fires burning Sleep came easy.

Day 6 | Author: Simon                             

Blue Lake Hut to Sabine Hut

We had a good night’s sleep in the tent, surprising after the previous day’s stress and risk. With no more snow or passes, we had a slower start. Blue Lake was shallow and clear. We ambled off in groups of one or two, with Mike happy to send us on our way and meet us for lunch.

Today’s walk felt lacking in adventure, following in the footsteps of a zillion TA walkers and day trippers. Still, the bit of avalanche debris was fun to cross. DOC’s avalanche warning signs were an eyesore and not needed. Large boulders had rolled down from high above on the opposite side of the river, perhaps fracturing into couch sized pieces to litter the track.

The hungry robin at West Sabine Hut was welcome at lunch-time. Mike arrived at the hut in time for the five of us to head off on the last section.

The Sabine’s short gorges and rapids were a highlight for me. Cupola and Hopeless had plenty of snow on their Western slopes. Brian and Kate had enough cell reception on the hillside above the gorge to arrange our extraction vehicles for Monday. Peter switched into zombie mode and Brian entertained Kate with his life story.

We finally made an empty Sabine Hut with sunshine to spare. Some had a wash from the jetty with an eye on hungry eels. Mike showed up after our third cup of tea. Andrea practiced yoga. Ever wary of snorers, I retired to my tent 100m away to the sound of gentle waves lapping the lake shore.

During the night Andrea and Kate moved to the lounge in a bid to escape someone’s death rattle. Come morning, Brian announced a revision of his breakfast menu was in order, due to the required 32-chews-per-mouthful which slowed his getaway time.

The water taxi delivered us to our singing, dancing chauffeur, David Renwick. It was the tramp of a lifetime, with great company.

22–23 September | Mt Fishtail | Mt Richmond Forest Park
Leader: Michele Cunningham

The forecast looked perfect for a weekend jaunt up Mount Fishtail in the Richmond Ranges near Blenheim.

Leah, Peter and Michele were joined by Yee from Blenheim, on her first NTC trip. She had a long wait for us at the road end, as we were held up by a nasty car crash on the Whangamoas. We were the first to arrive on the scene. We approached the two significantly-damaged vehicles which had been involved, hearts in mouths as to what we might find. We were relieved to find there were no serious injuries, although everyone was naturally quite shaken up. We stayed at the scene until emergency services arrived, about 45 minutes later.

After jump starting a third vehicle caught up in the incident, we were on our way. After a quick coffee in Havelock to calm our nerves, and finally we met up with Yee.

It was warm and sunny as we started out. A short way along the track Peter had a nasty trip and rolled an already injured ankle, fortunately not badly enough to stop him continuing, although it did swell up impressively later on.

A little further on, and Michele realised she had left her fleece in the car. Fortunately, that was where the incidents ended.

It was a long steep climb of 1200m, but the track was good and there were no annoying undulations to lose hard-earned height. We were a well-matched group in terms of speed, fitness, and personalities, so it was very enjoyable.

We met two day walkers descending, who assured us no-one was at the hut, so Leah tied her tent to a tree to collect on the way back down; no point in carting all that unnecessary weight all the way to the top!

Eventually, we broke out of the bush to wonderful views of the Kaikouras including Tappy and Mt Fell. We could see tiny Fishtail Hut perched on the side of the mountain amongst the rocks.

Before we knew it ,we had arrived at the cute little four-bunker, which was exactly the right size for our compact little group. We enjoyed the last of the sunshine and admired the views across to the Kaikouras, with cloud hanging in the valleys making the lower peaks look like floating  islands.  Later, a beautiful moon climbed the sky.

The morning dawned clear with a light breeze, as we made our way up to the top of Mt Fishtail (1641m), which took about 45 minutes. We were rewarded with stunning views in all directions.  Warm sunshine (when sheltered from the wind) and plenty of time allowed us to relax and enjoy the views thoroughly.

Eventually, we descended 1400m to the hut and back down the hill. The descent seemed harder than the ascent, with thighs and knees beginning to scream.  Thanks everyone for a great weekend.

We were: Leah, Peter, Yee and Michele (scribe).

7 October | Archers Track & Opouri Saddle | Marlborough Sounds
Leader: Graeme Ferrier

The easier walks seem to attract more ‘guest’ trampers as they test their level of ability compared to the people they see as ‘experienced’

club trampers. This tramp attracted five potential new members.

The walk from Penzance to Elaine Bay follows the edge of the Tennyson Inlet, with the first half being through beautiful native bush and the second half through replanted pine forest. Along the way are lovely views across the Inlet and the islands to the north.v

To add an extra experience, a descent from Opouri Saddle towards Duncan Bay was included, after a car shuttle. After an hour, the group arrived, feeling very positive about the walk ahead.

Morning tea was consumed at the Penzance wharf before heading off to Big Bay for lunch, then on to Elaine Bay for afternoon tea before the return journey.

Trampers were Grant Derecourt, Kelvin Drew, Graeme Ferrier (scribe) plus visitors Sarah White, Nadi Hyson, Julie Haywood, David & Beth Loe.







14 October | Julius Summit | Nelson Lakes National Park
Leader: Ian Morris

One of the advantages of climbing the Pinchgut Track is that you quickly become warm on the initial climb to Mt Robert.  The Bushedge shelter is no longer there, but there is a new park bench just before Mt Robert to sit, recover and enjoy the view.

We had a quick look at the renovated Relax Shelter with its new water tank, then headed up Robert Ridge. There was snow alongside the ridge, but we walked on bare rock almost all the way to Point 1777, just before Julius Summit.

Here, we had to traverse across a snow slope, then contemplate a steep descent into the basin. The south-facing slope was frozen solid so we carefully picked our way down a rocky slope, with a short section of hard snow to descend by bum-sliding (and using trekking poles so as to control our speed.)

We headed down the basin looking for somewhere warm to have lunch. We found a relatively warm spot among the tussocks. From there it was a gentle descent the narrow spur to Speargrass Hut, (which is actually in the Howard Conservation Area and not the National Park).

Finally, we made our way along the Speargrass track to the carpark, completing the walk in the advertised seven hours.

Trampers were: Ian Morris, Chris Louth, Scott Stocker, Brian Renwick, Peter Waworis, Yee Yung, Ashley Chin, David & Beth Loe.

Labour Weekend | Leatham–Saxton– Severn Valleys, Marlborough
Leader: Mike Drake

Day 1 | Author: Mike Drake | Bottom Gordons Hut to Top Gordon Hut

Groundhog day for me: I soloed this circuit the previous year, thinking it would make a cruisy club trip. Six people squeezed into Mike Glover’s 4WD at Hope, meeting me at Belgrove where we redistributed people. Then it was off to St Arnaud for a caffeine fix.

Over drinks it was agreed that ‘Tramping Rule 101’ would be applied on this trip: always keep the person behind in sight. The club has a bit a reputation, where some people have the habit of racing on ahead with disregard for the rest of the party; it causes leaders a headache. [Ed- I totally agree.] This was one of the many topics of conversation during the trip.

Late starts and early finishes for the day provided plenty of opportunity for discussion on a broad range of topics: legalisation of drugs, mental health, DOC fees, and tourists.

Early finishes mean you also get to plunge in the creeks or river while the sun is still shining – a  most pleasant experience. It sure beats sluicing water over oneself from a glacial puddle in pitch black darkness.

We were soon past Boulder Stream, running at a placid six cumecs. After lunch at Barbers Hut we soon reached Bottom Gordons Hut. Here we parted company with the 4WDs.

We crossed the swing bridge over the Leatham River and followed Gordon Stream to an empty Top Gordon Hut.

During preparation for the late start (9am),
I noticed some people were keen to put distance between themselves and the hut. However, this was a trip where the tramping pace could be slowed down. After all, we tramp to relax and experience a simpler world, where enjoyment, survival and looking out for each other is
the only focus. Right?

Day 2 |  Author: Scott Stocker | Top Gordons Hut to Saxton Hut

Day Two had the smallest climb but we walked the furthest, about 18 km. The climb to the saddle was gentle and it was worth the effort because it was our first view of conifer-free landscapes with some big scree and river-terrace landscapes

As we wandered down the valley, we disturbed some nesting Tarapiroe/Black-fronted terns, who swooped down over us noisily, showing their great aerobatic ability.

It was another lovely day, with a little high cloud and the sun shining on crystal-clear water. In the afternoon the keen hut-baggers crossed the river to have a look at Team Hut, next to wonderfully rhyming ‘Team Stream’. Saxton Hut is really well located on a terrace high above the river, with views up and down the valley.

During the evening, it was satisfying to sit and watch the shadows cast by the surrounding hills lengthen and the stars come out. 

Day 3 | Author: Peter Waworis | Saxton Hut to Severn Hut

From Saxton hut we travelled west 7km up the a side stream of the Saxton which thankfully had a low flow as we had plenty of stream crossings. We continually disturbed small flocks of canadian geese that were grazing on the grass close to all the water sources right up into the snowline.

A gentle climb to the saddle had us up to spot height 1764 just after lunch where we had fabulous 360-degree views east to Tappy, south to Sedgemere, west down to Severn Hut and Raglan Range.

Kate assembled a collection of bones on the summit into a very good replica of the club’s logo before we had a quick descent down a steep, scree spur to the valley floor and hut. A breeze cooled us down somewhat as we pitched our tents and then relaxed appreciating the our stunning surrounding.

Day 4 | Author: Mike Glover | Severn Hut to Top Leatham Hut

Day Four started with more clear and calm weather. As we made our way towards the headwaters of the Severn valley it was nice to get a close up view of the high snow-covered peaks along the Raglan Range. Lunch was had beside a creek  at the bottom of a 300-meter climb on to Severn Saddle.

After lunch we all set off on a steady pace, negotiating slopes of tussock and shingle slides. After reaching the saddle there was plenty of time for a long rest stop. We laid around in the sun and tried to solve some more of the world’s problems.

By about 3.30pm it was time to begin the 600-metre descent to Top Leatham Hut. Another perfect day with awesome views and great company.

Day 5 | Author: Kate Krawczyk

Top Leatham Hut to Bottom Gordons Hut

Day Five started out with a cruisey wander down the Leatham Valley. It was varied country; some wilding pines; some lovely native bush along the river. It was an uneventful walk out except for one particular moment that still makes me chuckle.

A fun topic on the trip was Mike and Wade’s recent tour of Gloriavale en route their latest West Coast tramping adventure. It was decided that instead of a retirement village, Wade would feel much more comfortable having his dad in the safe and loving arms of the people of Gloriavale when he gets older.

This brought to my mind an important question: I asked “what would Mike’s Gloriavale name be?” Ian quickly chimed in: “Wishful Thinking!”
I was impressed with his quick wit!

The 4WD trip out was again uneventful and long, albeit through some pretty country. We stopped in St.Arnaud for the usual coffee on the way home at the Clinker Cafe. Great food and coffee was enjoyed by all.

Team: Mike Drake, Ian Morris, Kate Krawczyk, Mike Glover, Peter Warworis, Scott Stocker & Wade Glover.

28 November | Brook Sanctuary Walk, Nelson
Leader: Kath Ballantine

Thirteen trampers had a leisurely start to the day, gathering at the Visitors Centre at the Brook Sanctuary Visitors Centre at 10am on a bright sunny day.

After paying entrance donations and doing a biosecurity check of our backpacks, we set off along the valley track through tall trees. Within 30 mins we had reached the start of Falcon Spur, the steep ascent to the ridgeline at the top of the sanctuary.

We were able to monitor our progress as we marked off the sanctuary monitoring lines at 50m vertical height intervals going off either side of the spur track. We had a late morning tea at 11am, then continued until we eventually levelled out somewhat near the top. We enjoyed sheltering from the cool breeze on the steps of the maintenance shed near the fence line.

We then traversed the ridgeline on a clear track next to the fence line for 25 minutes before heading down Tuatara  Ridge  to the valley. A few river crossings brought us back to the visitors centre.
We did see and hear some birds when we imposed a quiet listen. Total time was six hours, arriving back at the Visitors Centre by 4.15pm.

Participants were: Marianne Hermsen, Michelle Cunningham, Pete Phillips, Kelvin Drew, Susan Jenkins, Philip Palmer, Kate Krawczyk, Leah Parker, James Parker, Annette Le Cren, Graeme Ferrier, Lou Kloff & Kath Ballantine (scribe).

18 November | Rough Creek, St Arnaud Range
Leader: Pat Holland

Sunday dawned clear in Nelson but the forecast had been dodgy all week. So, it was with some trepidation that we viewed the mist over St Arnaud Range as we trucked past Top House. However, by the time we got up the Rainbow Road to the Rough Creek ford, it was clearing, with patches of blue in the sky big enough for sailor’s trousers.

The unmarked route is directly up the creek. After a kilometre on gentle gravel with some stream crossings, the terrain narrowed and steepened. Ian chose some deer trails through the adjacent forest to avoid small waterfalls and the gorge. We made steady progress with some snack stops.

Time passed. After 2.5 hours we arrived at the headwall of the creek, under a small waterfall. A grunt up through steep bush got us onto the snowgrass, then over a small ridge to the large tarn in the upper basin.

As the trip leader, I was ‘strategically bringing up the rear.’ We had idyllic surroundings for a late lunch. We proceeded on up to a saddle under Point 1787, then up over this onto the St Arnaud ridgeline where there is a rough track and trapping line. Here we met a strong, cold, sou’west wind.

We traveled northwards, past the turn-off down to Parachute Rocks. We then traversed  another two kilometres to Point 1683 overlooking No Catchem Stream.

Here, we began our descent on spur to the bushline, then descended a spur leading sou’east to the road ford at Chinaman Stream. It was awkward travel, pushing through stunted bush and saplings.

Finally, we reached the forrested terrace, then the road. We walked the 2km to the vehicles just as drizzle started. It was a good nine-hour circuit through diverse country, with some grand views from higher up, nothing technical but certainly a workout with 1100m vertical up and down and, aptly, ‘rough’ travel.

Participants were: Pat Holland, Graeme Ferrier, Kelvin Drew, Philip Palmer, Ian Morris, Chris Louth, Kee Yung (guest) & Peter Olorenshaw (guest).


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