Trip Reports, August-October 2012

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  1. Penzance – Elaine Bay > Pelorus Sound
  2. Snowcraft @ Rainbow Ski Area > Nelson Lakes National Park
  3. Angelus Hut > Nelson Lakes National Park
  4. Balloon Hut, Mount Peel > Kahurangi National Park
  5. Sylvester Hut > Kahurangi National Park
  6. Bike Ride > Richmond–Brightwater, Nelson
  7. Mt Robert > Nelson Lakes National Park
  8. Heaphy Track > Kahurangi National Park
  9. Daltons Track > Pelorus Bridge
  10. Brook-Waimarama Sanctuary > The Brook, Nelson

26 August 2012 – Penzance–Elaine Bay, Pelorus Sound
Leader: Jo Kay

We walked the round trip along the coastal track from Penzance Bay to Elaine Bay then up the road to the Pylon road/track which went over the hill back to Penzance Bay.

Deep Bay was halfway round the coastal track and had a tidy wee batch which was somebody’s piece of paradise. Around the point where there was a lovely view point where we found 2 camping chairs with a cloth sign sewed into them “Rest awhile, Enjoy the view, but leave the seats, so others can too,” which we duly did. The Sounds always look different depending on the weather and on this occasion the theme was definitely ‘moody’.

At Elaine Bay there was a row of letter boxes which portray the residents’ creativity, one with a garden roof of succulents, a mosaic one, a model fisherman in his boat atop another one and others with bright painting.

The Pylon track was a 4WD road which would challenge most vehicles with steep slippery stretches. Andrea and I were relying heavily on our poles to stay upright and support our knees. As we headed back east the pines reverted back to beech forest scattered with Nikau and Punga and a bell bird put on a great concert near the summit.

Trampers were Gretchen Williams, Andrea Cockerton, and visitors Snow Mullens, Bernadette Power, Thomas Quinn and Anya Kykulla. Trip leader and scribe was Jo Kay.

1 September 2012 – Snowcraft Day – Nelson Lakes National Park
Leader: Pat Holland

Seven intrepid souls headed up to Rainbow ski-field hoping to avoid the on-coming NW front. It promised to be a great morning so we chomped up excellent firm snow to Mt McRae, above the car park to the left.

Grand views were had of Lake Rotoiti, and all the ants busy on the skifield. We were overtaken by a NZAC party of four (incl two of our NTC members) heading up Peak 1915.

And so we climbed along, and sidled just beneath, the ridgeline to the main saddle. Some good experience was gained in cramponing and snow travel with some minor technical challenges on the ridge. After taking lunch in a schrund, the exertions and deteriorating weather were enough for a decision to return.

This rather than continuing the long plod to Peanter Peak, visible to the SW., we returned mainly via the snow gullies, having a few goes at self arresting with ice axes.

And so ... down to the skifield coffee shop before the drive back to Nelson. A very worthwhile and pleasant day with confidence on snow gained by the less experienced.

Climbers were: Pat. Holland (leader), Andrea Cockerton, Chris Louth, Hilde Somerville, Jo Kay, Kelvin Drew and Paul Smith (visitor).

22–23 September 2012 – Angelus Hut – Nelson Lakes National Park
Leader: Chris Louth

This trip was the second attempt by the club to get to Angelus Hut this winter, due to the weather, and what an awesome couple of days it turned out to be. Six of us made up the group and we arrived at Roberts’ carpark to brilliant, cloudless skies.

We started the day with the grunt up Pinchgut Track, all in good spirits and eager to get up to the ridgeline. Ray Salisbury was waiting patiently at the top to snap some action shots, with the backdrop of Lake Rotoiti making it a perfect setting to capture the spirit of tramping.

Snow became evident on the track shortly after Relax Shelter and a theme for this tramp started to emerge, being that of “returning to collect items left behind” (various articles of clothing, an ice-axe and a water bottle were all retrieved at various points). Luckily that did not include trampers! The ridgeline was everything you would hope for, glorious views in all directions and little or no puffs of wind.

Crampons were not needed until Julius Summit but alas, in keeping with the theme, we were minus one set of crampons after they apparently slipped out of the strapping on a pack. Pat (what a legend) graciously offered up his to the more anxious, less experienced one, and the rest of the team worked together to cut steps over the more icy bits to ensure they got safely to the hut – what a team! These actions have been noted and forever remembered in the hut book – wine and chocolate fish to follow...

Barry, who had joined us at the car park and ski-hiked with us to near Julius Summit, departed our company there and enjoyed his return trip, breezing down the slopes.

After enjoying a leisurely walk, totaling 12km and a 1000m climb, we arrived at the hut around seven hours after leaving. There were six others sharing the hut; a couple skiing the area, a couple on their big OE from Germany and a mother (Rosalie) and daughter (Sophie) out on the youngster’s first tramping experience (up via the Cascade track in early spring!), who arrived in good spirits recounting tales of trudging though waist-high snow in places.

Dinner was the usual affair, with everyone relieved they had not brought meatballs after the sharing of one particularly gruesome pre-dinner story! The last to hit their sack stayed up until the heady time of 9pm. Outside, a light flurry of snow had started.

Feeling refreshed, the early bunch woke at 5am to cloudless skies and no breeze. With glistening snow and apparently perfect crampon conditions, mountain hares Pat, Mike, Mark and later Chris in part, galloped to the summit of Angelus, returning in three hours. The rest of the group enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and one enjoyed some snow dancing and meditation. All in all, a fantastic start to a perfect winter’s day.

The return trip was just as enjoyable, with the snow slightly more slushy. We soon caught up with Rosalie and Sophie, who appreciated several attempts to jury rig their ill-fitting hired crampons. All worked out well and everyone got safely back up to Julius Summit by about noon.

From here it was all eyes peeled for that elusive purple Pack & Save crampon bag, with a hefty reward (chocolate fish again!) for the finder. The leading trio spotted them up near the old ski field and, despite pretending to the rest that a shifty looking foreign tramper making his ascent up the track had them stowed away, they emerged from Mark’s pack and all was forgiven.

We returned to the cars at a very civilized time having all had a lovely couple of days in the snow.

The happy team were Chris Louth (trip leader), thank you, Pat Holland, Mike Drake, Mark Stevens, Dion Pont and Andrea Cockerton (trip report). We were joined in part by Barry James, Rosalie and Sophie ... (and me! – Ed.)

29–30 Sept 2012 – Balloon Hut, Mount Peel – Kahurangi National Park
Leader: Ray Salisbury with Shaun Barnett (below)

Alison volunteered to lead the advance party while I fetched Shaun Barnett from Nelson airport. Back at my home, he was reacquainted with my wife, a colleague from his high-school days. Alison txted me from the top of Takaka Hill to verify her car-load was underway.

Our second car-load eventually left Nelson, reaching the turnoff to the Cobb Valley where young Gina was collected. At Trilobite Hut we lunched in the sun, then walked down the gravel road to the track start (where Dion had ‘hidden’ his jeep.)

After about ten minutes gentle climb, Shaun shot photos of Myttons Hut, which is maintained by old deer-cullers nowadays. (Incidentally, before Hugh Mytton took over the sheep run, my gt-gt-grandfather held the grazing license. On the 1894 map it was labelled as Salisbury’s Hut.)

The gradual zigzags proved just what my unfit sluggish thighs needed, while my party patiently waited for me on the ridge top. (Incidentally, early maps show this spot as Mt Peel – Mackay’s peak was not absolutely fixed. I believe the surveyor actually climbed Iron Hill in 1858.)

No one was willing to make the 2–3 hour detour to bag Deep Creek biv, so we sidled west into the tussock basin of Lake Peel. Here, Shaun and I disappeared into our solitary world of landscape photography. Chris and Gina wised up and sauntered off to Balloon Hut, where our advance party was relaxing.

To my surprise, Dion Pont (above) had gate-crashed the tramp. He was lying on a bunk laughing to himself, when I stumbled inside the hut. A family of seven made room for us, but the 14-bunker was quite snug. At bedtime Dion took ownership of a bench, while Shaun camped on the veranda.

Sunday morning saw us racing up the ridge with our DSLRs getting shutter fatigue. Fantastic light over the Arthur Range kept us photographers happy.

After breakfast, our combined party of nine strolled up Mount Peel, skirting snow cornices and enjoying the fresh breeze. I spent some time by the windvane emulating James Mackay’s compass bearings from 1858 – they didn’t line up with the topography.

Dropping off the summit via the prominent north spur, we soon found ourselves bush-bashing alongside Thorn Creek. After two hours descent we emerged onto the valley floor where Steve disappeared into the Cobb for a swim. Dion enticed Gina up-valley to re-bag Chaffeys Hut, recently renovated by John Taylor as an historic dwelling. Alison took her car-load to Nelson, and I drove Shaun and Chris on our second adventure to Lake Sylvester.

Our intrepid adventurers were: Shaun Barnett (guest), Steve McGlone (visitor), Chris Louth, Alison Aaron, Gina Andrews, Ken Ridley, Ray Caird, & Ray Salisbury (scribe).

30 Sept–1 October 2012 – Sylvester Hut – Kahurangi National Park
Leader: Ray Salisbury

Following on from our successful trip over Mount Peel, my car-load stayed in the vicinity for an extra day. Only the leader had ventured into this neck of the woods, so he was eager to show his guests his favourite corner of Kahurangi.

From Cobb Reservoir to Sylvester Hut, we strode up the 4WD road for 1.5 hours, winding our way through stunted copses of beech … onto the tussock plateau between the Cobb Valley and the Lockett Range.

Sylvester Hut sits on the bushedge, sporting grand views from the balcony. At daybreak Shaun and I were shooting the sun climb over Crusader and Hoary Head. An hour later Chris had lit the fire, and we were sheltering from a freak snow-storm. An hour later Chris and Gina visited Lake Sylvester, then we dropped back down to the Cobb. The cafe in Motueka beckoned: Quiche and coffee.

Trekkers were: Ray Salisbury (scribe), Shaun Barnett (guest), Chris Louth & Gina Andrews.

7 October 2012 – Bike Ride: Richmond–Brightwater, Nelson
Leader: Alison Pickford

A change of date for the bike ride from Saturday the 6th to Sunday 7th October had the most happy result of the gorgeous day of the week.

Ten of us met in Richmond and set out along the cycle-way to Brightwater, discussing the new snow and what a beaut day it would be for the last of the season’s skiing at Rainbow. Mark and Bronwyn caught up with us just as we were putting helmets on after a coffee stop at HQ, which is doing a roaring trade at the cycle-way end of Brightwater. (Er ... I had changed the meeting time ... and the well as the day ... but the trip conspired to go ahead in spite of my best efforts.)

Our route took us on through Brightwater, along River Rd and into the Wairoa Valley. A turn left took us a bit further up the Wairoa to a bridge on a side road where we admired the beautiful deep green river pools while a second morning tea was dealt to. Back to the intersection and onwards, climbing up the hill through the Pig Valley. A surprising number of cars passed around the middle of the day - the Wairoa party ravers were finally up and about! Lunch, and a puncture repair, at Faulkners Bush. The bunch broke briefly here into two - one group adding a few extra k’s on around the Mt Heslington Rd loop, the other following the cycle trail (which is in varying stages of completion) back to Brightwater. Eggs bought at the Wakefield end of Higgins Rd were way cheaper than those for sale at the Brightwater end, which resulted in a merry discussion of whether they might indeed be quail eggs?

The group reconvened at the Brightwater pub for cold drinks - around 3.30pm. The barmaid shuddered in horror when her cheerful “got far to go?” elicited the reply that we had indeed been past the pub at 10.30am! The eggs were inspected and found to be chicken eggs after all. Suitably refreshed, we headed - minus 3- back through Brightwater to the cycle trail. Again a brief splitting of numbers as some elected to do the Two Rivers walkway. It wasn’t long at all before we were all making our way back along Pughs Rd. At the Ranzau Rd corner - minus 1 - we elected to carry on along the road to the MDF plant and add in the coastal section of the cycle-way before arriving back at the cars. I have to admit that from there, I was dragging my tail somewhat as Greg and I completed the last few k’s homewards!

To our jovial crew - Ruth Henry, Ken Ridley, Nina Solter, Tom Brown, Brenda Griffin, Noeline and Mark Tullet, Cathy Smith, Bronwyn and Mark Stevens, and guest Greg Pickford – a big thanks for your great company!

– Alison

20 October 2012 – Mt Robert – Nelson Lakes National Park
Leader: Uta Purcell

Ross Price picked just the right destination for a shortish Labour Weekend Saturday tramp.

Only, in the end he himself could not come. In unsettled weather conditions we enjoyed a few patches of blue sky.

Going up the Pinchgut Track, black clouds piled up over Mount Robert ridge, a great contrast to the snow-covered ground. When the falling snow crossed the slopes in horizontal fashion, we were happy to be inside Bushline Hut for a relaxed lunch.

The Mount Robert loop was completed when we descended Paddy’s Track to warmer temperatures. The four hours in good company were shared by Mike Locke, Maggie Lilleby (visitor), Tom Quinn-Gregson (visitor), and Uta Purcell (scribe).

Private Trip Report – Heaphy Track – Kahurangi National Park
Leader: Lawrie Halkett

Right at our back door, the Heaphy Track is one of New Zealand’s nine Great Walks, and like many of the others we have walked over the years, it is packed full of variety with its own individual and unique characteristics.

The motivation for the trip was fuelled by a return visit by one of our earlier International students from Germany.

Starting at the Golden Bay end, it was satisfying to get the unrelenting uphill section out of the way, being reminded of our gain in altitude, not only by the changing flora, but also by the decreasing temperature and the patches of snow and ice .

The recently-opened, new Perry Saddle Hut was a welcome sight with its many design features; double glazing, coal fire, roomy communal kitchen area and three smart bunk rooms. Gone are the platform style beds, in my opinion, no great loss. I never did enjoy snuggling up beside strange men! The solar powered motion sensitive timer-controlled down lights seemed thoroughly luxurious! However, they do have their traps, as we learned from some bikers. They obviously did not get the knack of the coal fire to heat rooms to their liking, so dragged mattresses to sleep around its smouldering warmth, only to be woken by light whenever anyone moved! Were they light sleepers?

Considering the hugely increased building footprint, it is astonishing to know that the bed space has not increased.

As there was a short walk to Saxon Hut we were grateful to have time to linger and loiter on the stunning Gouland Downs area with its wide open spaces and golden hues, the mysteriousness being enhanced by the occasional misty shower.

Saxon Hut was full to overflowing, with our group being the only walkers. However, all were thoroughly amiable, as were the many bikers encountered the following day. It was satisfying to know that there are many, especially young people, having fun and enjoying the wilderness.

A day spent in the pouring rain did not detract from our enjoyment. However, it was unfortunate that this was, for me, also the most difficult part of the track, in sections rutted out running with water. At times there was need for me to be shown where to put each individual foot. That makes for slow progress!

Welcome bush cover sheltered us somewhat as we descended to Lewis Hut along a sometimes muddy track, the mighty size of the trees being admired. Surprisingly, we had Lewis Hut to ourselves, feeling grateful to have a strong son with pack of gourmet food: fresh vegetable curry, pancakes, cheese cake, falafel, Egyptian Kusherie (recipe available on enquiry) and the piece de resistance – Miriam’s chocolate birthday cake, three days carried and secretly completed in a dim hut corner with ganache and glowing candles. To say that she was surprised is somewhat understating the fact!

Sun again as we waded across the Lewis River where the washed-out bridge is soon to be replaced. The rest of the track was a delight as I was able to walk most of the way unaided, a sense of freedom being unencumbered! Additional delights were the enormous Avatar-like rata trees, Nikau palms with the remnants of previous flowering and the blooming grove of kowhai trees causing tui, kereru and bellbird to behave and sound crazy with uninhibited enthusiasm. We wondered if this is how it was in days gone by, being reminded of Captain Cook’s famous comments regarding prolific bird song on his arrival in Ships Cove, in the Marlborough Sounds some 343 years ago.

Lunch was had at Heaphy Hut, where another new hut is under construction, similar to Perry Saddle, considerably larger, picture frame windows, with no greater bed space.

With low tide, enjoyably wandering along the beaches was possible, but not always quicker, as we discovered when a delay in finding the track again meant completing the final stage in the dark. Avid photographers caught splashing waves against a background of sunset. A late evening walk was deemed to be well worth the anxiety of our waiting drivers.

Cameras also captured the image of large powelliphanta and our memories retained the night time call of the kiwi.

Much bridge and track work has been completed during the intervening period since our previous walk here thirteen years ago, the consensus being that it is best approached from the Golden Bay side and that bikers did not detract from our experience, in fact , quite the reverse.

So, we’ve knocked off another Great Walk, our first time walkers even having the certificate (available from DOC) to prove it!

The party included Kaye Halkett (scribe & visually impaired), Brett Halkett (my strong son), Miriam Alphus, Kazu Abe & Lawrie Halkett.

13 October 2012 – Daltons Bridge Track, Pelorus River – Nelson
Leader: Robyn Walsh

With the weather forecast predicting buckets of rain for Saturday, I rescheduled the walk to Sunday, a good move. Also, this meant a fourth participant was able to come.

Jo kindly drove us to Pelorus Bridge by 9.30am. The locals were celebrating the 100-year milestone of the Bridge, built in 1912. Two Forest & Bird officers were talking about the successful Bat Recovery Program.

We began our day crossing the impressive Rai swingbridge. We were in the bush only 15 minutes when we arrived at the boundary fence between forest and farm. Now came the long walk through paddock after paddock, following a marked route that is part of the Te Araroa Trail.

We took a high-water route, as swampy fields were waterlogged. A large power pylon was a perfect place for morning tea.

Along a boundary fence above the Pelorus River, there were several stiles to cross. By 12:15, with no Daltons Bridge in sight, we lunched under poplar trees. Jim leant backwards a bit too far, and got zapped on an electric fence.

Feeling replenished, we decided to return to Pelorus Bridge, which we did by 3:15pm. We made a dash for the cafe here. Those on this pleasant outing were: Jim Maxwell, Ted Brooks, Jo Kay and Robyn Walsh (scribe).

28 October 2012   Brook-Waimarama Sanctuary – Nelson
Leader: Pat Holland

The dodgy weather report was ignored and a group of nine gathered at the Brook dam in mild sunshine. Off we headed up the excellent Koru Track which, from the back of the visitor centre, heads up the east side of the valley at a moderate grade.

Then a left turn after 1.5km up Jacobs Ladder towards the Dun Walkway. About half way to 4-Corners, we entered a track to the right that recently was constructed by volunteers. D-line is a trapping line built to public track standards and runs a long way SE into the heart of the Sanctuary.

The group enjoyed this very much as it is easy going at roughly the same altitude (400m) through magnificent mature forest – red beach with patches of podocarps, and some views across the upper valley. After 2km a couple of sidestreams are crossed and then the track meets the headwaters of the Brook. Whew, time for a  break. The surroundings were delightful by the bubbling Brook with lots of ferns and large trees but on we went. Not much further the formed track peters out and we were left with pink tape. Across the stream and we sidled up a steep bank looking for an elusive E-line. This un-used crude trapping line was now heading NW, down stream and after 0.6km of rough travel we reached Tutowhai Ridge with a more major track. Will we go up – too right! (left).  And so, a steepish climb through the beech forest, then a flattish bit devastated by the 2008 storm, then up again and we reached Third House (a bit damp from drizzle which promptly cleared). Whew! – time for lunch.

Then back down but instead of following Tutowhai down to the Brook, the leader rashly decided to take E-line down Brook valley.  Track was a bit rough but we presently reach a delightful side stream with waterfall. Whew, time for a break. Then on, and on, and on, with track very rough and up and down. Eventually we stumbled out onto Gable End ridge and headed down to the Brook and Ferny Flat, virtually civilisation. Here we regrouped and then stomped back to the visitor centre on the fine Koru Track. Not an “easy” day (7.5hrs), but enjoyed by all once the hot bath and GnT kicked in.

Walkers were: Pat Holland, Jo Kay, Chris Louth, Mike Locke plus Tom Quinn-Grigson, Jeremy & Gail Paterson, John & Rae Sheridan (visitors).



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