Newsletter, December 2018


Download the printed version of the newsletter (12 pages colour), as a small 2 megabyte PDF file. (You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader or similar program installed on your computer. Broadband connection preferable.)

High mis-Adventure | Idiotorial

Did you realise that you are living in a hot spot for tramping fatalities? The Tasman region is the second most dangerous in NZ, according to MSC’s recent report, A Walk In The Park.

Diving into the scary statistics, it’s a miracle I am still standing. For starters, I do lots of solo tramping, (a necessary evil of being a semi-pro landscape photographer). Of the 57 trampers who perished during the past decade, 21 were men alone.    

“Solo trampers (that’s me) … were disproportionately high among men (me) tramping in the Tasman Area (me again).”

Indeed, of the 10 local fatalities from 2007-2017…

•  80% were male

• 70%  were tramping solo

•  70% of these tragedies occurred during December and February

•  35% of local trampers involved in SAR call-outs were aged 50–64

•  Nearly 60% of deaths happened on multi-day expeditions

From this analysis, it appears I have a target on my back; the proverbial clock is ticking; I gamble with my limbs or my life each time I lace up my boots.

Added to my paranoia, is more doom and gloom: The busiest days for SAR call-outs here in Tasman were Saturdays and Sundays, (no kidding?). There was a significant increase in incidents over long weekends and public holidays. Also, these incidents usually occurred in the afternoon or early evening. (Statistically, it’s safer to tramp in the dark.)

So, what can we learn from this morbid number-crunching? If you are really risk-adverse, I suggest that you never do a multi-day, off-track, solo tramp on a long weekend in the Tasman region during summer afternoons. Especially if you’re a man aged 50–64, like myself.

What shall I do, to avoid becoming a statistic? Short of swapping my boots for a set of golf clubs … or doing DOC’s great walks on Google Earth … I will need to relocate to Northland, where there’s little chance of falling off anything higher than a sand dune. I’ll need to join a group that does mid-week day walks in winter.

Oh, and I’ll require a sex-change.

Ray Salisbury, Idioter

Life Members | 3 Profiles of illustrious trampers

Our club currently has three life members. They were asked about their experiences within the club. David and Lawrie are both past presidents, while Robyn was our last Patron, before we terminated the role.


















David Rae

I joined the NTC in the early 1980s. Laurie Gibbs was Club Patron and was very active in St Johns as well. The Club President was Russell ‘Sherp’ Tucker who later became very active in Search and Rescue. Robyn Walsh was an existing member.

  I became President in 1984 in time to prepare for the Club’s 50th Anniversary which was held at the Maitai Baptist Camp over a weekend involving a barn dance, dinner with cake and speeches, and a day walk.

  Our Club used to hold an annual Fringed Hill walk to Third House to introduce members of the public to tramping. In those pre-mountain bike days, the hills behind Nelson were used a lot less. Later, an alternative group emerged within the club who organised easier walks alongside fit-level tramps to offer people an alternative.   

  These trips were mainly day walks but we also went on Christmas trips further afield to places like Charleston and Pakawau. Some members of the group were Albert and Caroline Jones, Robyn Walsh, Pat Whittaker, Brenda Barrett, Gaelynne Pound and myself. (Albert went on to be a world-famous amateur astronomer.)

  We also held twilight walks where we took dinner with us. Combined barn dances were held with the Waimea Tramping Club, along with combined tramps and mountain safety courses. We also undertook some track maintenance.

  I used to tramp most weekends at a variety of fitness levels, occasionally leading trips to new areas. Memorable tramps were to Mount Owen, St James Walkway and Round Lake at the Cobb where I met my future wife! (The tramping club has often been remarked upon as a place to meet your future partner.)

  My first weekend trip was at Easter to the Wangapeka, led by Alvin Johnston. This included a newly-arrived-from-Auckland Tony Haddon, later to become club president and FMC Executive member. Alvin ran several rafting trips using truck tubes. I remember the raft I was in breaking up at some rapids near the Owen River.

  While I was president, the club became involved with conservation issues. This included helping to set up NAPSAC (Nelson Parks Action Coalition), a local group of recreational / conservation groups to counter a mining company’s application to explore for minerals in the NW Nelson Forest Park. Through negotiation, we succeeded in getting some conditions agreed upon with the mining company. We supported FMC in the issues of the day, as we do to this day.

  My tenure as president ended in 1989 when I travelled overseas. However, I really enjoyed that part of my life and my association with NTC; a group of like-minded individuals who had a lot in common. I made lots of friends through the club and enlarged my life experience.




















Lawrie Halkett

Lawrie joined the club in 2004, was on the Committee from 2006 to 2016, and was president 2010–2015. During this period he led by example, running many trips, organising both the 75th and 80th anniversaries for the club. Lawrie also started the club on its recent round of hut renovations.

  He got Nick Smith along to the NTC AGM in 2014 where Nick, as Minister of Conservation, announced the new DOC/FMC community partnership fund targeted at hut renovation.

Lawrie’s beginnings in the hills were, in his own words:

“Tramping for me began as a ten-year-old in the Tararuas. Many a weekend my parents would drop   my two older brothers and I off at the Kaitoke Shelter. We would head into the Tauherenikau Valley or up the Marchant Ridge to Mount Alpha.

  Over my college years I traversed most of the tracks through the Tararuas. While I have not been back (I left Upper Hutt as a 19-year-old), I can still vividly remember the tracks and the huts as if I had been there just last weekend.

  Leaping forward, although a little cautious on joining NTC, it has been an enriching experience, rubbing shoulders with a far greater circle of people with a similar passion for our mountains, bush and rivers.”

Lawrie’s career was in the forestry industry for 35 years. His contacts there have proved useful to NTC over the years. It also gave him the opportunity to travel, with a highlight being two years working for Volunteer Service Abroad in the Himalaya. Living for two years among the Sherpa people taught him and Kaye that life is not all about gathering material possessions, but it’s about helping others, having fun and building up heaps of karma along the way.

Lawrie and Kaye keep remarkably active, with tandem biking now being their forte. They have done most of the NZ cycle trails plus an epic ride from Vancouver to San Francisco. Their three adult children also have the outdoors bug in a big way. Daughter Lee very recently did the Old Ghost Road and Heaphy Track back to back, riding them each in one day.















Robyn Walsh

  I was born in Mosgiel, in the year of the coronation, when Hillary and Tenzing climbed Everest. (My sister is older, and is a member of the Waimea club.)

  After a few years in Fiji, we returned to New Zealand where I attended Henderson High School, doing a shorthand typing course for three years.

  My first job came in 1970 in an Auckland Telegraph Office. In 1971, I transferred to the Nelson Telegraph Office. Other short-term jobs were with Tasman District Council and apple-packing.

  My first forays into the hills were with a Nelson youth group. The first tramp was to Whispering Falls and Hacket Hut, followed by a jaunt to Stilwell Bay and Maitai Caves. I became hooked and joined the Nelson Tramping Club in 1977.

  My first tramp with the club was also to Maitai Caves, then to Dew Lakes. An overnight tramp to Devils Creek Hut followed. The Easy–Moderate day walks suited me best, while weekend trips involved driving to a destination from which some glorious day walks were enjoyed.

  Some particularly memorable weekends have been to Charleston over New Year 1983, Pakawau over New Year, 1984, and to Totaranui.

  Another very special trip was the 1996 cycle trip through the Rainbow to Hanmer Springs in perfectly clear weather. (I drove a van.) Absolutely beautiful scenery!

  My tenure on the Committee began in 1983, then a 23-year continuous run evolved. I enjoyed every minute, getting to know members I wouldn’t see on the easier trips. Taking part in running the club, hearing trip reports at meetings, and planning itineraries. Positions held on the Committee were Secretary, Treasurer and Newsletter Editor.

  During my time on the Committee, I have seen the names gradually change. Also, in the club I have seen many members come and go. But it is good to see a few stalwarts are still in the club.

  Also, the objects of the club and atmosphere of the trips, club nights are just the same as when I first joined: full of enthusiasm and awe of our backcountry. We still do things the same, but with subtle differences, e.g. changes in clothing, packs, GPS, vehicle models, and our club Committee is more safety-conscious.


Paparoa National Park

Construction work has been delayed somewhat on NZ’s tenth Great Walk, the Paparoa Track which is now scheduled to open in September 2019.

Kahurangi National Park

Initial construction on the Matiri Hydro Electricity Scheme is being undertaken over the next 3 months. The 4WD road is being upgraded into a 2WD road all the way to the Matiri West Branch. More detailed access info is available here: Pioneer Energy website

The Cobb Valley Road is fixed, up to the Powerhouse & expected to be fully open to vehicles by Christmas. (Following damage from Cyclone Gita in February.)

The increased popularity of the Waingaro–Anatoki circuit, has spurred volunteers to upgrade the access to the Kill Devil Track off Uruwhenua Road near Upper Takaka.

Scrub and gorse have been cleared to make parking available for 18 cars. A picnic table has been installed, the intentions kiosk repainted and a long drop toilet dug. The access road has been graded and re-gravelled and signage improved.

Volunteers were NZFS ranger Max Polglase and his partner Beverley Johnston (who now live near the road end) along with Anne Meyer.

There will be feral goat control operations in the Asbestos, Cobb, Anatoki, Stanley & Kill Devil areas from late November til Xmas. (ie. Huts full of hunters)

The Dart River ford has filled up with silt and small rocks and the river is flowing over the ford, even at low water levels. Given the amount of silt upstream of the ford, Tasman District Council have advised they can no longer keep this ford free from gravel migration. This affects access to Mt Owen & the Wangapeka Valley tracks.

The tap on the water tank at Granity Pass Hut is broken. DOC recommend trampers take enough water with them.

Nelson Lakes National Park

The introduction of hut bookings is likely on the Travers–Sabine circuit in Nelson Lakes National Park from next summer, to help manage overcrowding.

D’Urville Hut has undergone major renovations this year. The work included the re-lining of the interior walls, ceiling and the installation of new platform bunks.


Trip reports need not be extensive epistles, or feature award-winning writing. Just the facts, spiced with some memorable moments. Adding the total walking time may be helpful to future trip leaders searching our website database.

Following these guidelines will not only save the Newsletter Editor hours of extra work, but it will make it easier for others to read your trip report... they might actually READ your trip report!

1. Write the report in MS Word, not an email. Don’t be lazy! Because an email does not contain proper formatting, and copying from an email deletes all paragraph returns - this means lots more work for the editor.

2. One space between sentences. We have moved on from typewriters to computers! Get with the times. If you put a double-space between sentences, and the article is justified during pagination, horrid ‘rivers’ appear down the columns.

3. Title: Add Date / Name of Track / Name of Forest-National Park / Leader’s Name. Remember to record all participant’s names, IN FULL. This will save the Editor having to refer to the club website or Facebook, trying to fill in the gaps.

4. Use humour ... but avoid ‘in-jokes unless they are obvious to the general reader. Ha, ha, ha.

5. Keep sentences short for easier reading. Avoid joining different ideas together with an ‘and’. Use paragraphs too!

6. House Style: we write numerals 0–12 in full (e.g. zero, one, two, three).
Do not abbreviate (nth, sth, hrs,) Contractions are fine (such as don’t, didn’t, we’ve). Acronymns (such as DOC) are acceptable. Use past tense.

7. People like seeing themselves in photos, and images of people are much easier to take than landscapes, (and print better at a small size in the newsletter). So, try to get at least one decent group photo. Pose the group facing the light (unless you know what you’re doing shooting contré jour).

8. Photos: Email only the best 4–5 shots to the Editor. Don’t just post 21 images on Facebook, and expect the on-line viewers to sift through all the rubbish shots to find the good ones. Spend 5 minutes choosing them.

Note: Facebook compresses the images so the low-resolution isn’t really suitable for printing in a newsletter.

Thanks for all your contributions! Keep 'em coming in...


Ray Salisbury
Web & Newsletter Editor


FACEBOOK PAGE | Have your say | Publish photos

  • Share your photos / videos of a tramping trip
  • Share your opinions & trip ideas
  • Keep up-to-date with what’s happening

Remember, ‘sharing is caring’... so keep all your comments positive on this forum. Here’s the link:
























Dec_Header_web.jpg192.33 KB
David-Rae_ColorPop.jpg77.67 KB
Lawrie-Halkett_web.jpg62.6 KB
Robyn-Walsh_web.jpg79.32 KB