Trip Reports, September-October 2010



  1. Mt Fyffe
  2. Dew Lakes-Dun Mountain Loop
  3. Mt Robert
  4. Elaine & Penzance Bays
  5. The Camel
  6. Cloustons Mine
  7. Boulder Lake
  8. Nina Valley Bivvies
  9. Mount Everest Base Camp > Tibet

4–5 September – Mt Fyffe – Seaward Kaikouras
Leader: Ruth Hesselyn

An early departure meant we could switch into ‘holiday mode’, coffee and cake at the wonderful Kekerengu Cafe, topped with a wander to the baby seal hangout at Ohau Bay. This comes complete with waterfall, plunge pool and frolicking seals, well worth a look if you’re passing that way.

En route, we had tuned into the car radio and followed the terrible earthquake disaster that was unfolding in Christchurch. The devastation was hard to imagine as we traveled south, alongside a perfectly calm ocean.
We reached the Mt Fyffe trackhead and locked gate around midday, but as we were still full from morning tea we skipped lunch and headed upwards. The route is a consistently steep 4WD road, more or less all the way to the summit, though really only negotiable (in a 4WD) to the hut. A few nibbles, camera stops and 2.5 hours later, we arrived at the hut where we were immediately greeted by a very talkative Iranian, now NZ resident.

Thoughts of a quiet afternoon with a good book soon dissipated. A group discussion and change of plan ensued, packs were repacked and we headed for the summit around 3.30pm. Surprisingly, snow conditions were excellent despite the recent heavy snowfall.

Not long after leaving the hut, crampons were donned and Leki poles exchanged for ice-axes. Soon after, we were on the main ridge. Here, we were greeted by a chilly blast whipping straight off the snow. Brrr, with jackets on and heads down we reached the summit just on 5pm. Fantastic views, from the snow plumes blowing off Manakau and Uwerau in the west to the distant blue horizon in the east.

Unfortunately, it was too cold to linger so after a few quick photos we beat a hasty retreat, arriving back at the hut just on dark.

We awoke to dull skies and threatening rain. A quick breakfast and we were back at the cars by 10am.
The Peninsula walk we had contemplated, now didn’t seem as appealing, instead a wander along the streets of Kaikoura, a browse in a good bookshop and another coffee and cake put us in good stead for the return journey

Fellow holiday makers were: Carole Crocker, Gretchen Williams, Ray Caird & Ruth Hesselyn.

5 September – Dew Lakes–Dun Mountain loop– Mt Richmond F/Park
Leader: Pat Holland

6 registered, 5 turned up. So off we went on a fair morning but poor forecast. The NW storm did not materialise, at least whilst we were out and about, so it was mixed sun and high overcast with a cool spring breeze on the ridge.

All accomplished in a regulation seven hours (including the 500m to and from the dam due to the Maitai gate being locked). Usual points of interest were: the argillite quarry; Dew Lakes (tranquil with Mt Fishtail in sun and snow against the black sky as a back drop); old twisted rata at the start of Little Twin; the alpine landscape on Dun with good views across the city and Tasman Bay.

We noted the recent MTB track to Coppermine Saddle is very flash (thanks Bob Janssen for your work with Nelcon) and makes for a fast descent. No cyclers were spotted. We passed a big bunch from the Waimea Club whom we mistook for Rollos 24hr racers (ha, ha).

In summary, this was an excellent stretch for some winterised legs. Walkers were: Pat Holland, Barry James, Kristi Dubois, Kelvin Drew & Mark Stevens.

11 September – Mt Robert via Pinchgut Track – Nelson Lakes N/Park
Leader: Uta Purcell

Hoping to avoid the predicted rain, I decided to move this trip one day forward. David Blunt was available and we completed the loop via Bushline Hut and down Paddy’s Track.

David’s comment was: “you could almost call this pleasant!”

As there was interest to re-do the exact walk in damp conditions on the Saturday, 9/11, the trip was repeated by Mike Locke as a loop trip. Beverley Muirhead and myself climbed up Pinchgut Track, returning the same way.

26 September – Penzance / Elaine Bay > Marlborough Sounds
Leader: Katie Cloughley

With its blend of native bush and views of the Tennyson Inlet, the Penzance-Elaine Bay walk justifies the hour and a half drive from Nelson.

We were fortunate to avoid any rain, but low cloud in the afternoon obscured what would be, in clear conditions, stunning views of the northern reaches of Tennyson Inlet and Tawhitinui Reach.

An anti-clockwise route saw us begin our tramp by walking the Archers Track along the shoreline from Penzance to Elaine Bay. Native bush made this a pleasant, sheltered (from the very strong wind) start to the day. From Deep Bay (coffee stop) the track became more open, the result of logging some years ago. On the plus side, we had better views of the inlet which we could enjoy from the comfort of two chairs charmingly placed on the side of the track.

Lunch time in Elaine Bay saw us hunkered down in a sheltered spot, watching the williwaws battering the boats moored in the bay.

From Elaine Bay, a short walk out of town on the sealed road brought us to the start of a track which would lead us back over the hill to Penzance. Initially an open track, steep in places, following the line of pylons, we were soon back in native bush. Here, we came across a big worm on the path. As it measured all of two-and-a-half feet in length (sic) it definietly deserves mention in despatches.
We arrived back at Elaine Bay soon after 4pm. The round trip had taken a very pleasant six hours and was enjoyed by the party of nine trampers: Dan McGuire, Marie Lenting, Kelvin Drew, Mary Honey, Mike Locke, Gillian Arbuthnott, Maurice and Katie Cloughley (scribe) and visitor, Peter Valle.

2–3 October – The Camel– Nelson Lakes National Park
Leader: Mark Stevens

Weather is a trampers friend and sometimes foe – the foe was to win on this trip. Our planned trip up the Rainbow Valley to climb Mount Weld was abandoned as the rivers we had to cross in our cars were running high.

So, a change of plan was needed. Instead the Camel was to be attempted, as no rivers need to be forded. Seven keen alpinists set off for a short walk up-valley to our campsite under the beech trees on a nice, sunny river flat.
The side-streams were swollen so wet feet were the order of the day. It was good to enjoy an easy walk in, have time to sit around drinking cups of tea, then watch the sun set in the wilderness.

A crisp, clear day dawned when we set off on a good old Kiwi bush-bash up a ridge to the snow line. We had two Italian climbers with us on our bush-bash, so we learnt a few Italian curses, but as we know, eventually the bush ends and the tops reveal themselves.

As the bush-bash was soon forgotten, we had a walk on the open tops with vistas of Nelson Lakes,  the major peaks such as Hopeless, Travers and Cupola while we munched our lunch on the summit. A great trip with great company and great weather – who could ask for more? Maybe our foe did not win after all.

Climbers were: Mike, Ruth, Carole, Liam, Donato, Sylvano and Mark (scribe).

3 October – Cloustons Mine – Kahurangi National Park
Leader: Barry Pont

With great weather, seven hearty souls left Nelson, arriving at Flora car park around 9am.

It didn’t take long to strike snow, which added flavour to our tramp. The last 1.5 hours became difficult to get through the snow with drifts over a metre deep. Arriving at Cloustons Mine, Kristi found a novel way of finding the mine entrance under more than two metres of snow.

We found the going quicker downhill on the return trail. We arrived back in Nelson by 7pm – a long 16-km walk, but fun.Trampers were: Dion Pont, Barry Pont, Kristi du Bois, Marie Lenting, Meryl Kirkham, Karen Smith & Norm Lovelock.

8–10 October – Boulder Lake– Kahurangi National Park
Leader: Pat Holland

The forecast was too dodgy to proceed with the planned round trip and camp-out in the Lead Hills. Little did we know that the weather was going even more in the dismal direction.

A party of three left Nelson early Friday and made rendezvous with Kristi from Murchison at Motueka for a caffeine fix. Thence to James Road in Golden Bay and the start of the Brown Cow track.

Farmer Graham kindly let us drive up the farm road saving a 30-minute walk. ‘Twas  an easy stroll up the track, stopping for lunch before the drizzle started. Then K & A got stuck in the karst crevasses.

Kaka, kakariki and tui were seen once we reached the real bush, which included some fine tree dracophyllum and twisted rata. The final rising sidle to the bushline seemed to go on forever.

‘Hughie’ got going proper as we exited to the saddle. Zero visibility and cold hampered us on the high track over to Boulder Lake. So, wet and shivering, we finally staggered into the hut within eight hours.

Fortunately, there was lots of dry wood and we were soon cosy. A minor flood ensued when Kelvin kicked the bucket – freshly filled to the brim from the creek.

On Saturday the weather turned southerly, snowing in earnest. The day was spent exploring the food supply plus catching up on sleep and the Queen of Spades (during a card game of ‘Hearts’).

On Sunday, Pat forced a brutal alpine start – the mutiny was ruthlessly supressed. Snow was rapidly melting, but still grey and drizzling, although there were now views of snow-plastered tops.

After a short side-trip to the stream exiting the lake, we returned to Brown Cow. The bush was pretty but the track was greasy from all the rain, so care was needed.

‘Twas an uneventful eight-hour trip down to the cars with the weather devolving to steady rain. However, everyone professed to have enjoyed the trip – must have been the fine company of: Pat Holland, Kelvin Drew, Kristi Dubois & Alison Aaron (visitor)

23–25 October – Nina Bivvies– Lake Sumner Forest Park
Leader: Dion Pont

On Saturday Morning, we set off up the Nina Valley in the Lewis Pass region.

We arrived at Nina Hut by 2pm. Some members of the party walked up to the Nina Bivvy later in the afternoon, this is a 2-man bivouac with an open fire. They didn’t arrive back to Nina Hut until 7pm.

The next day the fine weather continued so we set out to go up to the new Devil’s Den which had two bunks (but you could fit three in if you had to). The bivvy is above the saddle so it is really exposed in high winds. The views were really spectacular, the old bivvy site is at the bush line about 15 minutes from the new one.When we arrived back at the hut it was really busy with lots more tents up.

The last day we had to cross the Nina River to get to the true left hand side of the valley. About an hour down was Lucretia Stream where we turned off to go to Lucretia bivvy, 1.5 hours from the main track – identical to the Nina bivvy. Then we continued out the pleasant Nina Valley and were back at the car by 4pm.

On the trip were: Dion Pont (Leader), Marie Lenting, Ruth Hesselyn, Kelvin Drew, Mike, Deirdre, Wade (scribe), Alice and Chelsea Glover.

September–October– Mount Everest Region - Tibet
Leader: Uta Purcell














This was a touring adventure. We had a chance to walk about each day.

Optional was doing the Kora/Pilgrimage around Mt Kailash – I felt too weak to do that. We were driven by shuttle bus to Everest North Basecamp because the weather threatened to change and we needed to hurry.

The set-up at Basecamp was very Chinese, providing for Tourism, but I could not see anything that meant mountaineering, especially when I compare it with my long trek to Everest Basecamp on the Nepali side. Still, at least we were able to walk back through moraines, avoiding the road, to return to our tent camp. Accommodation was very varied, but we always took it into our stride.

My flight took me from Singapore to Guangzhou, to Urumqi, to Kashgar, an oasis town, in Central Asia and part of the Silk Road. From there we travelled in five Landcruisers, skirting the Taklimakan Desert, over the Kunlun Mountains, through the Aksai Chi, to the rock spires of the ancient kingdom of Guge, all the while on the Tibetan Plateau, repeatedly crossing passes of around 5200m. The different cultures and religions took us from Islam to Buddhism to Hinduism.

It was thrilling to travel alongside the Himalayan Range day after day, guessing what mountains I could recognize from the northern side. The sky was immense, the weather brilliant. I saw evidence of nomadic life, but I would have liked to get closer to it. Our group of 14 seemed quite big, but we got on.

Some were experienced travellers of Central Asia and able to contribute, as we all did in our respective fields. There were two botanists from Australia amongst us. Leader Murray was an expert on Geology and Geography. I saw new features in the landscape, i.e. Yardeng, which are rises of solidified sand.

Those with sharp eyes saw quite a variety of wildlife, some of it even crossing the road. Soon the remotest roads will be sealed. The Tibetan guide was excellent and the five drivers, who did not speak English, were good. (However, impressions of religious life in Tibet were not so good.)