Trip Reports, August-October 2011


  1. Barnicoat & Involution Trail, Richmond Hills
  2. Mt Cupola, Nelson Lakes National Park
  3. Gordons Knob, Mt Richmond Forest Park
  4. Trig K, Pelorus, Marlborough
  5. Akersten Bay, Abel Tasman National Park
  6. Castle Rocks Hut, Abel Tasman National Park
  7. Balloon Hut, Kahurangi National Park
  8. Doom Creek loop, Mt Richmond Forest Park
  9. Flora-Cloustons Mine loop, Kahurangi National Park
  10. Third House, Nelson
  11. McConchies Hut, Kahurangi National Park
  12. Mt Duppa, Bryant Range, Nelson
  13. Mt Arthur, Kahurangi National Park
  14. Copper Smelter & Mount Malita circuit, Aniseed Valley

28 August 2011 – Barnicoat Walkway & Involution Trail – Richmond hills, Nelson
Leader: Brenda Griffin

A good four-hour walk up the Barnicoat and down the Involution. A lovely sunny morning, with few bikers but a number of walkers. Plenty of snow on all surrounding mountains. Great views until you start going down the Involution where plenty of native bush surrounds you.
Involution means when something turns in upon itself. It’s great that such a good walk is right in our neighbourhood.
Thanks to those who came: Gillian Arbuthnott, Mike Locke, visitors Garry Bassett and Til Melis, and leader/scribe Brenda Griffin.

26—28 August 2011 – Mt Cupola – Nelson Lakes NP
Leader & Scribe: Ruth Hesselyn

A spot of reorganising due to heavy snowfall meant we left town at 6.30am on a fine and frosty Friday, a week later than scheduled.
The previous day, I’d discovered that the Lake Rotoiti Water Taxi was closed for winter, which would add another two hours onto an already long day. Oh well, I decided we would still have enough time to reach Cupola Hut, with daylight to spare.
The trip around the lake and up Travers Valley was the usual long (though easy) walk through beech forest and river flats. Birdsong was noticeable, a testament that the extensive trapping program is finally working.
At John Tait Hut we refueled, changed from runners and shorts into boots and trousers, then left at 3.30pm for the two-hour climb to Cupola Hut – it took us over four hours!
Mike’s extra-heavy pack and bruised body from a recent ski crash slowed things a little, then the diabolical (Pat’s word) snow started. Initially, it was ankle to knee-deep with the odd bent and splintered tree hindering progress. About half way up it started to drizzle, the track totally disappeared, Park and darkness closed in. Hmmm... we discussed the option of backtracking but everyone was keen to continue, thinking the hut was closer than it actually was.
With head torches blazing (some more than others) we eventually worked our way from marker to marker, crawling under and over bent branches, falling into drifts and getting stuck in holes.
At one stage I was following a distinctive blood trail, courtesy of Chris and his short gaiters. Then, Yippee! we finally reached the hut, everyone a little shattered after a full-on eleven-hour day.
The alarm was set for 5am, in the hope that the snow would be crisp and crunchy for the morrows climb. Buzz, buzz, groan, moan. I checked outside, strong winds and snowing lightly, so back to bed. Mike checked again at 6am: still raining. Yay, more sleep!

We finally emerged from our sacks and left the hut under clearing skies around 9am, for a look. Chris was sensible and stayed in bed as he hadn’t intended to do the climb. Once out of the bush and on the traverse to the base of Mt Cupola, the snow improved dramatically, to only ankle-deep. Mike was firing well, no doubt to the greatly reduced weight on his back, Pat was his usual steady self and I was totally lacking in enthusiasm. Maybe due to the previous day’s exertions or the aftermath of the flu that I had just recovered from. Whatever, I turned around part way up the gully, arriving back at the hut 1pm for an afternoon snooze.
Mike and Pat made it to the summit, though unfortunately it had clagged in by that stage, reducing their view to snow, mist and each other. They arrived back around 3pm. While they recovered, Chris and I packed then stumbled through to John Tait Hut, much easier in daylight, taking a mere 2.5 hours. By the time Mike and Pat arrived, dinner was cooked and the fire was on, though admittedly it hadn’t done much to heat the hut – one of the draw backs of large spaces in winter.
Sunday was a reverse of Day One, thankfully without the Cupola section. We lunched at Coldwater Hut then a final steady plod around the lake saw us arrive at the car mid-afternoon. As Mike dumped his pack, he said something like ‘a little pain doesn’t hurt’. Aye?
Thanks to fellow snow waders, Chris Louth, Mike Drake and Pat Holland for an oddly enjoyable long weekend.

27 August 2011 – Gordon’s Knob – Mt Richmond FP
Leader: Carole Crocker

From the Cathedral Steps, our convoy collected trampers at Stoke and Richmond before heading up the road toward Tophouse. Our vehicles whined their way up Wai-Iti Road to Inwoods Lookout, sited at about 1000m altitude.
Initially, the track cut through pine over a hillock, spitting us out into the open across a clay pan. Through turpentine scrub we wandered, until it negotiated loose rock up a broad, rocky spur onto the main ridge towards North Peak.
Leaving this poled route, we followed cairns on a high sidle along the treeline, reaching an obvious saddle before the bulk of the Gordons Knob massif.
Two weeks of sunshine had dried out the ground, however, snow drifts slowed progress as our boots became sodden.
Seven of the party trudged up through tussock and soft snow to gain an unnamed 1685-metre summit known as ‘Gordons Top’ and impressive views westward. (Gordons Knob itself is lower and a boring snow slog.)
Across the Motueka River headwaters, the distant speck of Right Branch Wairoa Hut glinted in the sunshine, resplendent in orange paint in its new site at Porters Creek.

Wind chill sent us scurrying off to shelter on the leeward slopes, where lunch was leisurely consumed.

The return journey was uneventful and somewhat quicker. The entire tramp lasted nearly seven hours. Our party of nine did well to stay together, despite varying fitness levels. Thanks to Carole for her organisation.
Climbers were Val Latimer, Ray Salisbury (scribe), Liam Sullivan, Steve, Dan McGuire, Mary Honey, Mary Su, Alison Aaron and Carole Crocker.

28 August – Trig K – Pelorus, Marlborough
Leader: Gretchen Williams
The usual fog started at Rai Valley but by the time we had climbed to the trig and small, open top it had cleared and we had good views. The bush on the north side was different from the south side – quite large beautiful trees in both areas. There was evidence of a trapping programme and the weka at the top was certainly very friendly (and I suspect well fed). We investigated the two waterfalls and decided one would be spectacular after a bit of rain. After the three-hour walk we enjoyed our lunch down by the Pelorus River, just below the bridge.
Members were: Gretchen Williams (leader & scribe), Uta Purcell, Mike Locke, Maree Lenting, Brenda Griffin. Visitors were: Garry Bassett & Mayumi Otani.

4 September 2011 – Akersten Bay, Abel Tasman NP
Leader: Brenda Griffin

What a gorgeous day for a walk to Akersten Bay. I’ve never walked this part of the Abel Tasman. Once past Apple Tree Bay the gorse disapperared and we were surrounded by lovely native bush and bird song. The beach at Akersten would be great for summer swimming. We lunched at Akersten Bay then walked the two hours back. It was great to see the track was well used from family groups and solo walkers.
We enjoyed a well-deserved ice cream at Motueka. Thanks to visitor Pip Greer, club member Ross Price and leader/scribe Brenda Griffin.

3–4 September – Castle Rocks Hut, Abel Tasman National Park
Leader: Ruth Henry
Four of us set off from Marahau, on a pleasant morning, at 9.30am. Marahau was quiet and serene before the hustle and bustle of summer visitors. At the first viewpoint, we stopped and chatted to a local man who turned out to be someone two of our party knew.
As the day warmed up and with the uphill climb, layers of clothing came off, including leggings for a couple of us. Stops for photographic opportunities occurred through the bush until we came to Holyoakes Clearing. This was a sunny, sheltered spot to relax and eat our lunch at the outside table. We visited the quaint two-bunk hut and after an extended time, we moved on.
Two of our group had not been to Castle Rocks Hut before so this was a new section of NZ bush for them. On arrival at the well-sited hut, one member suggested a cup of tea but other members persuaded her to visit the rocks first. After a short, steep route, we reached the rocks where expansive views are exposed. More photographic opportunities until the windiness and cooler temperatures drove us back downhill to the cosy hut to kick off boots and completely relax. By now, one other person, a young American woman, had arrived. She proved an interesting hut companion. For Mayumi, the Japanese member of our group, this was her first stay at a New Zealand hut.
The next day was pleasant and our botanically-minded Kiwis decided to inform Mayumi of the names of some of our native trees including our iconic silver fern.
After a food break at Holyoakes Clearing, it took us longer than we remembered to reach Akersten Bay. We arrived at 2pm – too late to catch the day-trippers but enjoyed another food break and a paddle of feet. The hard, unforgiving surface of this coastal track meant feet were sore but this track is easy, enabling a quick pace. We arrived back at Marahau at 4.30pm after a great weekend and good company. Thank you to Uta Purcell, Jocelyn Winn, Mayumi Otani and Ruth Henry.

17–18 September 2011  – Balloon Hut, Kahurangi National Park
Leader: Ken Ridley

Five members plus one visitor went on this trip. We had a good
weather forecast in an otherwise unstable weather pattern. Snow
fell on Friday night, settling above the car park.
We had an uneventful walk to the Tablelands, stopping for lunch at the rock overhang.
From here we had slushy snow gradually increasing in depth as we walked up Starvation Ridge. The going got harder beyond Chinatown and harder still, beyond Bishop’s Cave, where we were pushing through old snow softened by new snow melt – we were pleased to arrive at the hut.
Any ideas about climbing Mount Peel were abandoned. We knew that the gas heater wasn’t working, but the hut was not cold when arrived, and it remained comfortable all evening.

In the morning there was five centimetres of new snow, misty sunshine, and only a slight frost. My assurance of firm snow didn’t eventuate, so we followed our old foot prints on the way back.
We looked at Bishop’s Cave, visited Salisbury Lodge, and also did the potholes circuit. This was a bit tricky in places due to soft snow. We lunched and drank a brew at Growler Rock Shelter, before trudging back to Flora carpark.
On the trip were: Christine Hoy, Rodger and Maurene Cotton, Mayumi Otani, visitor Livia Bera (Switzerland) with leader/ scribe Ken Ridley.

24 September 2011 – Doom Creek loop, Wakamarina Valley
Leader: Robyn Walsh

Previously planned for May, but cancelled due to torrential rain, today the weather was great. Seven departed Nelson, over the hill, and up the Wakamarina River. Nearly every house here had a name on the gate.
One hinted at what often goes on inside: “Kiss-a-lot”. After pre-walk snacks, we headed off through the bush, which recent logging had broken up and damaged. Several streams were crossed, then, just prior to midday, we arrived at a particularly large creek containing huge boulders – evidence
that big volumes of water can hurtle down here after rain. To cross required much dexterity, on slippery rocks, or little thin pinnacles, for the dry sock fraternity, but we all succeeded. Around the corner a dry, sunny spot heralded an early lunch Now well-fed and rested, we continued up valley. We made a short diversion to the site of the old Doom Creek Hut. Further on, we enjoyed good views up to Fosters Clearing. The climb out of the gorge into sunlight gave our legs a good stretch back to the cars, after about four hours’ walking.

Participants were: Jim Maxwell, Beverley Muirhead, Robyn Walsh (leader/scribe), with guests Ken Holmes & Bridie, Mayumi Otani & Hiroko Toyomasu (Japan) & Livia Bera (Switzerland).

25 September 2011 – Flora-Cloustons Mine circuit , Kahurangi NP
Leader: Pat Holland

The weather forecast was dubious: a strong SW front due later in the day. So, an intrepid band of four set off early from Flora carpark on a clear, calm morning. We decided to tramp clockwise due to the forecast and duly reached Mt Arthur Hut in good order. On up the ridge which was clear of snow though lots in the gullies and down into Horseshoe Basin.
Lunch in the lee of the ridge under Gordon's Pyramid was followed by snow flurries and clag. Miraculously it cleared when we reached the top of the Pyramid with excellent views to the west, (Tablelands), north (Lodestone, Crusader, etc.) and northeast to Tasman Bay.
Snow-slides led us down to Cloustons where the mine tunnel was under a snow cornice.
After a charming walk through the forest and along the river to Flora Hut, a cup of tea was brewed and the resident weka was entertained. The round circuit to our car took nine hours. Our quartet was: Pat Holland (leader), Ruth Hesselyn, Uta Purcell and David Sissons.

2 October 2011 – Third House, Nelson
Leader: Mary Honey

Seven hardy souls assembled at the Cathedral steps, despite the inclement weather. We proceeded up the Brook Sanctuary and at Fern Flat negotiated the creek, swollen by heavy rain. The further crossings were also a bit of a challenge but no one flinched. We arrived at Third House about noon, utterly soaked to the skin.
After an unsuccessful attempt to light the fire, we settled down to lunch. A quick decision was made not to proceed up Fringed Hill, because everyone was cold and wet. We made a dash down the Dun railway line and arrived back at the cars at about 2pm.

It was a bold effort by Mary Honey (leader) Uta Purcell, Gillian Arburnott, Emily Gee, Gretchen Williams, Dan McGuire and Mayumi Otaki from Japan, whose balancing skills were phenomenal, jumping from one wet rock to another when crossing the streams.

8–9 October 2011 – McConchies Hut, Kahurangi National Park
Leader: Andy Clark

A fine weekend was the forecast as five of us set off from the 2WD car park in the Matiri Valley. A 4WD farm track was followed to the west branch of the Matiri which was forded and, in due course, Lake Matiri Hut was reached.
It did not take long after departing the hut for the terrain and track to become rougher and progress slowed. We followed the valley, at times on river flats but mostly in the bush, with two climbs above the valley to bypass sections that were impassable at river level. It was not long before many were questioning the grade of this trip which had been a ‘medium’. Progress continued at a steady rate with arrival at McConchies Hut approximately six hours after leaving Lake Matiri Hut.
According to the hut book, the last entry was late April of this year which confirmed beliefs that this is a seldom-visited area in Kahurangi. All were glad to have reached the hut and most declared this was a once-only trip, but a couple were keen to continue the route up-valley, through to the Wangapeka Track, at some later stage.
The next morning dawned fine and the two who slept outside proved none the worse for wear. Progress down valley seemed to go better but the time taken was the same; the only difference was that all were better prepared mentally. Damage to the landscape from the 1929 Murchison quake was continually evident, providing spectacular scenery. Continual banter keeping morale high, especially from ‘Jim’ and ‘George’.
All arrived safely at the car after a tiring eight hours. We were all lucky enough to be invited into a local lady’s home for a cuppa and a look around the superb rural garden she keeps – thanks Margaret.
A special thanks to my companions on this trip being: Graham Davey, Uta Purcell, Merrick Mitchell and visitor Oliver Speeding.

9 October 2011 – Mt Duppa, Bryant Range, NelsonLeader: Jim Maxwell

The weather was perfect for the steep climb on this rough track up Duppa. When we arrived on top the sun was causing the trees to continually shed ice from their foliage.
We were lucky with our chosen day. The views to the Rai Valley and over the Richmond Ranges were good, but the horizon still had that Nelson haze. We had a long lunch in the sun and carefully picked our way down with only a few slips and no injuries. Participants were: Emily Gee, Beverley Muirhead, Pete Peters (non member) and English language school students Mayumi Otani, Hiroko Toyomasu and Mami from Japan.

23 October 2011 – Mount Arthur, Kahurangi National Park
Leader: Barry James

Seven of us had an early start from the Flora Car Park in fine conditions. We had a pleasant walk to Mt Arthur Hut, encountering a noisy weka and hearing a robin on the way.
We stopped at the hut for morning tea in the sun and a chat with the family in residence. We then continued on up the ridge towards our ultimate goal. Conditions were ideal with only a bit of wind early on.
As we ascended, our group was reduced to five. About an hour so from the summit we encountered snow which needed to be traversed. The three men were very encouraging to us two women, and gave us much support and advice about the traverse. The snow conditions were good, so fortunately crampons were not needed. We made fairly slow progress across the steep slopes, mindful of the long slide down if we were careless. Confidence grew over time, but it was still a great relief to climb up the final, almost vertical, snow face to get on to the ridge just before the summit.
From this point we were really on top of the world, with magical 360-degree views. It only took us a few minutes to walk to the summit from there. The sun was shining the sky was blue, with a slight breeze and a few clouds on the horizon at that time. Conditions were perfect, (but apparently they weren’t because we couldn’t see Mt Taranaki.)
We had lunch in and around the little stone wall that had been constructed here, and continued to admire the view.

As we left the top, the first of three more groups arrived. We had been the first group of the day – the trail blazers. The descent from the ridge down the very steep snowy slope at first appeared to be rather daunting (to me at least). However, Ken glissaded gracefully down with his ice-axe, so the rest of us followed (two of us without ice-axes but with Leki poles). Some of these descents were a lot more elegant and controlled than others.
We were pleased to arrive safely back at Mt Arthur Hut for afternoon tea and a brew-up. The resident weka poked about whilst we were there. Then we continued down to Flora carpark.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable day of about seven hours. Participants were: Barry James, Ken Ridley, Chris Louth, Patrick Holland, Katie Greer, Mary Honey and Sue Locke (scribe).

29 October 2011 – Mount Malita & Roding River, Nelson
Leader: Alison Pickford

A truly cosmopolitan group arrived early for a trip to the old copper smelter and mine up the Roding. After fording the river three times, we ate morning tea at the smelter before following the tramline up to the Champion Mine for lunch. (The main shaft here is under water).
Lots of difficult bush-bashing up a creek and steep face got us onto a scrubby ridgeline where the going became somewhat easier.
A second tea-stop on the main ridgeline saw the weather partially clear. From here, we looked over into the Hacket watershed. Ascending a final spur, we proceeded through windfall in the beech forest to the open grassy top of Mount Malita (959m) where photos were taken by Raymond. Armed with his trusty GPS, Greg busied himself with locating a geo-cache near the concrete plinth.
We were surprised to find the Council’s two-berth hut open, as vandal poachers had regularly broken the door latch. Instead of a hut visitor book, an A2-sized sheet of paper was hanging off the wall, with names dating back to 1964 when this hill was a potential observatory site.
Afterwards there was a dash down the forestry road which returned us to the caretakers house, where we signed out.
Special thanks to visitor Matteo Bordini from Rome for his review of Italian politics and the latest scandals.
Participants were: Scribe Dan McGuire (USA), Matteo Bordini (Italy), Fiona Herney (Kiwi-visitor from Christchurch), Uta Purcell (Kiwi-German), Ray Salisbury (notorious North Islander), Alison Pickford (Kiwi leader), Greg Pickford (British-Kiwi), Lou Kolff (soon to be retired Kiwi), and Alison Aaron (Kiwi union organiser).