Trip Reports

25-26 June 2005 - Tiraumea Hut. Organiser: Andy Clark

On a clear winter’s day, 6 adventurers arrived at Mataki Lodge and the start of the track up Jamiesons Ridge to the Mole Tops. The track was in good condition with Mole Saddle being reached in 3 hrs where lunch was enjoyed as were the awesome views. Time was spent climbing the ridge to the Mole Tops with more great views and a first taste of snow for winter. A southerly breeze drove us back to the saddle and the descent was made to the Tiraumea Hut with the last of the party pushing the dark arriving at 5.30pm. The fire was lit and the warmth welcoming as the frost was still thick on the ground from days past, this hut missing the weak winter’s sun during the depths of winter. Meals were cooked, consumed as the temperatures dropped still further. The fire reminded some of a woman, as it was forever requiring copious care and attention, being rather unco-operative in its output of heat at times.

Morning dawned to another hard frost and an air temp of –8 deg C. Hut was cleaned and the climb back up through the bush to the Mole Tops was a grunt but not as bad as most thought. Mark picked a lovely spot for lunch, out of the wind and the sun on our backs. No takers for a trip down Mole Stream so all returned to the cars via Jamiesons Ridge and the trip home. All of us being Uta Purcell, Mark Stevens, Marguerite Verheul, Dion Pont, Noel File and Andy Clark - all new to the Tiraumea Hut so we now have this ticked off.

26 June 2005 - St Arnaud Tracks. Organiser: David Nielsen

Four lucky trampers took on the wilds of St Arnaud on a stunning clear and cool day. After an interesting and educational wander round the Visitor Centre we headed off up Ward Street through to Rotoiti Lodge before tackling the Black Hill walkway. Up through the trees over frosty ground until we hit the northerly, and downhill slopes, where the change in vegetation and insect life was evidence of the warming effect of the sun.

Across SH63 we discovered the Ice Skating Pond had a covering of ice insufficient for Beverley to show off her “Torvill” skills.

Returning to the track we were soon walking through the Moraine left by the Angelus Glacier, feet crunching through ice, and sighting at frequent intervals the “kettle ponds” left by the ice melt eons ago. The ponds were covered in ice of more recent formation (the previous night being the coldest to date this year).

Lunch on the jetty at West Bay in the sunshine with no wasps was very welcome, followed by a brief side trip to the source of the mighty Buller.

On round the Lake coastline surrounded by regenerating bush and recovering birdlife, and with enervating views of Robert Ridge, the Travers Valley and its towering backdrop of snow covered peaks, to Kerr Bay. While we had experienced a coolish breeze at times the sheltered water of Kerr Bay provided us with the classic mirrored mountains scene to cap off our day out… or so we thought.

Beverley, (transport provider), took us on another side trip on the way back. Top House was an interesting detour to complete the day. Now when that was built St Arnaud was somewhat wilder than it is today!

Participants: Beverly Muirhead, Gillian Arbuthnott, Hec Arbuthnott (scribe), and visitor Josie Smart.

2 July 2005 - Snowcraft. Organiser: Andy Clark

The weather was okay and so the day commenced. Instruction was given in the Mt Arthur carpark re the correct way to carry a ice axe and with an hour’s walk, the Mt Arthur hut was reached. Snow was not plentiful but with another hour’s walk a few larger patches were found that allowed for the basics to be taught and practised. This included self arresting, step cutting and use of crampons. While conditions were not ideal, all enjoyed themselves and looked forward to honing their newfound skills over the remaining winter months. Meanwhile, visitor Warrick had gone on to the top of Mt Arthur and returned safely and successfully.

On this trip were Colin Duncan, Bob Janssen, Kim Vickerman, Sarah Simmonds, Warrick Winn and Andy Clark.

9-10 July 2005 - Kirwans Hut. Organiser: Mark Stevens

Four brave souls set forth on a cold and bleak Friday night: the wind was howling and the rain was lashing down to the micro climate of Reefton, the epi-centre of coal. As we travelled south there were cries of “we are hungry” from the backseat so we stopped at a pub in Murchison, the Hampden Hotel. One of our brave souls had eaten here before and we ordered Hampden burgers and cups of tea and were suitably de-hungered by the feast. We set forth again, next stop Reefton and it lived up to its name as the riviere of the south. A low cloud hung over the town which we were later to learn was a coal-smoke cloud and is very common in the winter and summer months. Out of the cloud loomed our lodgings for the night, the old nursing home now turned into a backpackers. We had the choice of 50 beds so we took the honeymoon suite and had a night’s sleep on very comfortable beds. We met one of the inmates of the home who was very informative on our intended tramp. We headed into town to get a latte with soya milk and a look at the DOC centre, again very informative, then drove to the start of the track with light drizzle beginning to fall and views of new snowfall on the mountains. As we proceeded up the valley the drizzle increased to rain.

The first two of the party reached the hut with only a micro pause on the way up and proceeded to get the fire going and have a hot drink as the snow began to fall outside. As the other party of two arrived, coal was found under the hut and the fire was well and truly stoked up. Dinner was had and early to bed at 7.30pm. We awoke at 7.30am to it still snowing outside, so had a leisurely breakfast waiting for the snow to stop and the cloud to clear. It did clear so packs were packed and up to Kirwan's hill we did go. The bush was covered in a combination of snow and ice and, as we came to the snowline, we had our first glimpse of the tops. As we made it to the top the cloud cleared a little so we headed down the valley to the cars. On the way down, one of our souls took poorly so light packs were swapped for heavy ones. We nursed our sick soul who shall not remain nameless. The trip out was a wee bit slower than the trip in, with many breaks for photos, plant viewing, resting, and relic looking.

Back to the cars and another stop at the Hampden Hotel for another Hampden burger and cup of tea. All in all a good couple of days in de mountains.

Thanks from Mark to Alice Paterson (the nurse), Dion Pont (the patient), and Roger McMichael.

10 July 2005 - Airport/Stoke. Organiser: Robyn Walsh

Not a large response for this local all-day walk. Nevertheless there were 5 starters on this lovely sunny frosty morning. We met at 9am adjacent to the road which heads round to the terminals. We headed north through an array of business buildings then onto the track by the edge of the golf course. All the way round we had mountain and sea views with an occasional heron enjoying a fossick in the sun. Nearing our completion of the circuit, a distant figure, which seemed familiar, became Tony Haddon, who decided to join us for the rest of the day. At the airport, Brenda and Shelley left us due to other commitments.

Passing our cars, we went over the romantic little bridge over the tidal creek, a few more yards along the cycleway to a seat for a snack break at 10.45am. At 11am we carried on past Monaco Village and up Songer Street to head north along the Railway Reserve. We crossed the footbridge above Annesbrook Drive and another bridge over the motorway. Beside the motorway to Beatson’s Road wasn’t too noisy thanks to the whisper asphalt. Almost similar to being beside a waterfall or river. Next, a back lane behind houses to Enner Glynn and a 15 minute climb up Newman Drive had us at a good height above Stoke. Four of us fitted onto a seat here where we had our lunch about 12.30pm with good views over the airport and across Tasman Bay.

At 1.15pm we commenced the walk back to the airport, returning the same way we had just come, so it was downhill virtually all the way. A small deviation at Cherry Avenue at a friend’s place for a convenience stop! Down at Annesbrook, Jennifer left the group and the remaining three carried on, taking a cycleway on our right for a more direct route back to our cars. These we arrived at by 2.45pm after an enjoyable easy day’s walk.

Participants: Grahame Harris, Tony Haddon, Robyn Walsh, Brenda & Shelley Sinclair, and visitor Jennifer Still.

16-17 July 2005 - Angelus Hut/Mt Angelus. Organiser: Ruth Hesselyn

The coffee stop and mid morning start up Robert Ridge probably lulled the group into thinking they were in for a leisurely weekend. But, was not to be! Strong winds and the soft snow encountered from Relax Hut, turned the normally straight forward walk into more of a challenge. Though clear, conditions ensured any stops were brief, hence we were all at the hut by 4pm, just in time to see the sun go down. An enjoyable evening of eating
followed, topped off with a decadent dessert made by Carole and drinks provided by Julie. There were also four other parties in residence, so it seems winter is no longer a quiet time at Angelus.

6am saw five bleary-eyed trampers emerge from their bags and by 7am we were plodding (there had been no freeze) through the snow towards Mt Angelus. We took the western route: though longer, it offered some protection from the easterlies that were buffeting the ridgetops and sending spindrift swirling around the mountain. Roger did a great job of step plodding and we were on top by 9am. The views were wonderful, but unfortunately it was too cold to hang around and enjoy them. A quick descent took us back to the hut, arriving about half an hour after the Speargrass group had left (Ian’s report follows). Packed and lunched, we left the hut just before mid-day. Despite the wind, we decided to head back via Robert Ridge, a shorter route than the alternatives. Maybe not the best of decisions as the easterlies seemed to gather in strength as the afternoon wore on. Still, it made the journey out interesting! A rest at Relax Hut, then an easy wander saw us reach the car park just as the others emerged from the Speargrass Track. What timing!!

The Mt Angelus team: Brian McLean, Janette Hansen, Marguerite Verheul, Roger McMichael and me (Ruth).

Despite the noisy and rude awakening at 6am by the Angelus assault team, the Speargrass team stayed in their sleeping bags trying to enjoy a sleep-in. However, as is normal, once people start stirring it is all on and each person tries to outdo the other by making their plastic bags sound even louder. Anyway, after a very enjoyable breakfast, and a cleanup of the hut, we headed away. The climb up from Angelus Hut was breezy and cold but as soon as we dropped down into the Speargrass Track we were sheltered from the winds. From here the group had an easy ramble down snow-covered slopes, stopping at one point to practice self-arrests. A little further on it was necessary to don crampons as we had struck several hundred metres of icy conditions. So crampon practice was also had, with one person finding out that standing on your plastic drink bottle, whilst wearing crampons, is not a good idea. A nice leisurely lunch stop by the stream below the snowline saw us removing several layers of clothing and really thawing out.

After lunch, we strolled through the tussock to Speargrass Hut where we forced ourselves to stop and have a brew up. The last 2 hours had us walking along the river and through undulating bush to the car park. A very enjoyable trip and certainly less hair-raising than the other team’s trip along Robert Ridge.

The Speargrass team: Bob Janssen, Carole Crocker, Colin Duncan, Ian Pavitt, Julie Simpson, and visitor David Rodd.

17 July 2005 - Mt Murchison. Cancelled due to weather.

24 July 2005 - Sharlands Hill. Organiser: Tony Haddon

A preamble up Botanical Hill followed by the descent into the Maitai Valley brought us to the pine-covered near vertical slopes, which lead to Sharland Hill (381m). Emerging with new found energy from the pine forest onto a plateau, self-perception was the deciding factor when the group split into “dignitaries” – who wended their way steadily through abundant pine forest – and “yahoos” – who traversed the undulating and open terrain – to arrive at the trig station for lunch. A brisk descent down the open eastern flank of Sharland Hill brought us to the Waahi Taakaro Golf Course, whereby the picturesque Maitai River Walkway provided a welcome opportunity to step out at a steady pace until we arrived back at the day’s starting point, the Botanics.

Participants: Dan McGuire, David Blunt, Denis Parnell, Gillian Arbuthnott (scribe), Ian Bethwaite, Kathy Harrison, Lindsay Twiname, Mike Marren, Shirley de Groot, Shirley Gabrielsen, Tony Haddon.

24 July 2005 - Peanter Peak. Organiser: Ian Pavitt

As we walked away from the Rainbow Skifield carpark, a blanket of soft snow greeted us and we knew that this trip was not going to be as easy as last year’s. Luckily, initially, other footsteps in the snow were heading in our direction so in single file we followed, making the most of these compacted imprints. But soon it was into unmarked territory and so a succession of “plodders” were employed to blaze trails for the rest to follow. Onward and upward to a suitable ridge for a late morning tea break before sidling around a basin to another ridge which overlooked the Arnst Basin. From here, four “plodders” headed high for the ridgeline and the remainder dropped down. I think the lowland “plodders” had the harder route as the snow here was quite soft and deep. The highland “plodders” were well into their lunchbreak by the time the lowland “plodders” caught up to them on the ridgeline. We all had lunch here and admired the views down to Lake Rotoiti and across the valley to Angelus. After lunch two decided to return to the carpark and the rest carried on along the ridge in slightly easier snow conditions, for 30 minutes, to Peanter Peak. Not long spent here due to the cold westerly wind, just enough time to click a few shutters (do digital cameras have shutters?). Then about turn and retrace our footsteps, the only difference on the return journey was that the whole group took the high route above the Arnst Basin, which was much easier. Back at the carpark by 4.30pm, just as the skifield was shutting up the cafe for the day, so some of the group decided to stop at St Arnaud for enjoyable refreshments on the way home.

Many thanks to those who became Peanter Peak Plodders for the day: Grahame Harris, Gretchen Williams, Ruth Hesselyn, Arthur Jonas, Yvonne Kyle, Christine Hoy, Ken Ridley, Colin Duncan, Steve & Chris Hopkins.

30-31 July 2005 - Mt Princess. Organiser: Mike Drake

Unstable weather, unconsolidated snow, and about a dozen slips on the Wairau - Hanmer Road didn’t bode well for the weekend. However, a ring around of the punters found a determined lot. A Friday afternoon start, and a drive over Lewis Pass took care of the slips, the weather and snow would duly be tackled. On Saturday, with coffees and pie(s) under our belts we headed up the Wairau Road on a gloriously sunny day and just before Lake Tennyson we saw our objective. The route up a gully was clearly visible from the road. After a number of photographs we were on our way, ready to tackle the first obstacle - the Lake Tennyson outlet. Dion and his trusty Suzuki went first to test the conditions, and Shirley followed. A plastic bag in front of the air intake offered additional protection from water being sucked into the engine.

The next obstacle is the heavily rutted and boggy track around the bottom of the lake. Switching between track and the beach took us a little way, and with reluctance we decided to face the inevitable, and walk! However, lunch on the beach further delayed this inevitability.

A walk around the bottom of a spur over boggy ground took us into Princess Stream. After a short time we found ourselves at a camp spot by the trees on the true right, about 1km from the intended campsite. Further hardship was endured by the consumption of a fine meal, followed by various alcoholic flavoured biscuits and chocolates, and sitting in front of a fire. All was washed down by drinking chocolate.

Glistening frost on the tent and a clear sky at bedtime suggested crisp snow and a clear day for the morning. Rain on the tent a few hours later scotched that idea. The morning was warm and dark cloud obscured the top section of Mt Princess. So we resigned ourselves to a day of plodding through sugary snow. Snow plodding was indeed the order of the day. Mark, fresh from an NZAC snow course, was keen to show his newly found skills, and with many compliments from the troop behind, a staircase presented itself. Facilitating and taking photos from the back, is a useful technique to develop, with five pairs of feet ahead, sound steps are created for the facilitator/photographer. However, my turn at step making was not long in coming.

After 5 hours plodding, a very windy Mt Princess was climbed. Dark cloud blocked all views to the south, with dramatic views to the north. After five minutes of intense photography we were heading back down. A brew at the campsite, a “race” of the young whippersnappers, over the spur, against the mature and wise, around the spur, found us back at the vehicles. Needless to say the mature and wise won the day. The outlet was duly negotiated, and after a plunge in the lake (one only), saw us heading home. Thanks very much to the team for a great weekend, especially to the 4WD drivers, who kept our feet dry.

The team - Shirley Arnst, Carole Crocker, Ruth Hesselyn, Dion Pont, and Mark Stevens. Photos :

31 July 2005 - Map & Compass Instruction. Organiser: Grahame Harris

Ten trampers assembled at Hacket carpark and tramped to Browning Hut where everyone was handed a piece of paper with writing on it - a scary thing for a tramping party. The map was laid out on the table and features of it were discussed. Then the compass was produced and discussed, and Adam was surprised to learn that his Northern Hemisphere compass was not well calibrated for operations south of the (magnetic) equator. We worked out a course leading off-track from Totara Saddle towards Mt Stewart with three changes of direction. We then followed a bearing up to an intermediate point where we had lunch, then took the next change of direction that got us down on to the short narrow saddle connecting to the slopes of Mt Stewart. At this stage time was against us so we turned back, with young Nicola leading us professionally on an "aiming off" course that brought us to the track just east of Totara Saddle. After this it was a tramp back to the cars with minimal delays. The weather was overcast but without showers.

Party: Andy and Nicola Clark, Noel and Sheryl File, Margaret Page, Shirley Gabrielsen, Christine Hoy, Grahame Harris, and visitors Adam Womersly and Trudi Knighton.

7 August 2005 - Doom Creek. Organiser: Hec Arbuthnott

Third generation Valley resident Rosemary McCallum met us at Canvastown where we had a close look at the gold mining relics displayed at the Centennial Memorial opposite the historic Trout Hotel. We were privileged to be taken through the Canvastown Hall to view the interesting murals painted on three walls by an itinerant named “Haddon” (any relation Tony?). From there we drove a further 15km to the parking area, crossing some fords on the way, then set off along the old 4WD track which sidles above the Wakamarina River. Following local advice we took the right hand branch of the track which dropped steeply to a bridge over a crystal clear Doom Creek before a 150m climb up a rocky, shale covered track to the junction of the Wakamarina track, which leads on to Devils Creek Hut, and the loop track. Along the track, and in one instance on the track, were abandoned mine shafts, all suitably covered or surrounded by fence to protect inquisitive trampers from danger.

A gentle incline took us down to Fosters Creek, where we had our first “wet feet” crossing. Two bridges were removed by DOC following the Cave Creek incident; one here and another further on at Doom Creek. A word of caution then to be wary of attempting the circuit following heavy rain. Stacked rocks just off the track provided more evidence of the mining history of this area.

Before crossing Doom Creek we stopped to refuel with lunch. As we were packing up ready to move on, we were investigated, and followed briefly afterwards by a Robin, which at times was within arms length of his visitors. This crossing proved a little more difficult than the one over Fosters Creek, however the only loss was a walking pole, abandoned in error while rock climbing!

Along the easy track back to the start the three back markers stopped to check out an unusual noise at the side of the track, which proved to be a Weka chuckling and growling to itself or its mate.

We should thank the miners for laying such easy gradients for most of the track, as they were placing water races to aid their efforts at fortune hunting. And many fortunes were made in the 1860’s, as the Wakamarina was, for its size, one of the richest goldfields in New Zealand. In 1864 this now peaceful valley was home to nearly 3,000 miners and was one of the most lawless and rip-roaring goldfields in the country.

To cap off a stimulating day in a really interesting environment with affable company, Rosemary provided a very welcome afternoon tea at her home. (Christmas mince slice was delicious.)

Party: Alison Nicoll, David Nicoll, Jim Maxwell, Rosemary McCallum, Karen Wardell, John Olykan, Gillian Arbuthnott, Hec Arbuthnott, and visitors Katie Greer, Menja Holtz, Katie and Maurice Cloughly.