Trip Reports, September–October 2013

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  1. Hailes Knob > Kahurangi NP
  2. Mount Patriarch > Kahurangi NP
  3. Hacket Hut > Mt Richmond FP
  4. Dew Lakes > Bryant Range, Nelson
  5. Parachute Rocks traverse > Nelson Lakes NP
  6. Browning Hut to Rocks Hut >Mt Richmond FP
  7. Dun Mountain / Maungatapu circuit > Mt Richmond FP
  8. Maitai Caves > Nelson

1 September 2013 – Hailes Knob – Kahurangi National Park
Leader : Ross Price

The first day of spring: clear, calm and sunny – a good day to climb a mountain. None of us had been here before so it was a case of plan as you go. We parked a few kilometres along Waitui Road and began a steady climb up to a saddle below the mountain.

Visitor Laura warned us as we left the cars that she’d recently had a brain operation and had a tendency to say things that could upset people. She was fine, though some of her language was as colorful as Ross’s shorts.

There was no obvious way up and no tracks marked on the map, so we crossed some pasture land and began the ascent up a face that was completely devoid of trees, heavily rutted by pigs and criss-crossed by goat tracks.

Inevitably the group stretched out on the very steep, sometimes rocky, slope as everyone found their own pace.

About 300 vertical metres from the summit we stopped to regroup and refresh. Within 10 minutes five of us had assembled but there was no sign of the other four. Fifteen minutes later and still no one, and as none of us were too keen to descend to find them, we decided to continue up the steepest part and around the bluffs to the top.

Normally when you get to about 1300 metres the treeline ends. Here the beech forest started at about 1250 and crowned the peak at 1279, giving only glimpses of the panorama. This is possibly one of the reasons why there is no recognisable track up.

By now it was obvious the others in the party were not coming all the way so we backtracked roughly the way we had come up. We heard them before we saw them, having lunch at about 1000m.

Reunited, we slowly picked our way down.

At an old, insulated fenceline I was doing my impression of someone being electrocuted when I lost my balance and embarrassingly bounced a few metres down the hill.

We got back to the cars at about 3pm, Kate happy that she had ticked off another in her quest to bag all the knobs in the country!

Climbers were: Ross Price (leader), Marcel Stutz, Kate Krawcyk, John Whibley, Andrea Cockerton, Chris Louth (trip report), and visitors Laura, Mark and Elizabeth.

6–9 September 2013 – Mt Patriarch, Kahurangi National Park
Leader: Pat Holland

Although the weather forecast was rather mixed, it proved very worthwhile to proceed with the famous round trip. There was rain only at night and some mist and wind in the mornings but the days were generally sunny and bright. Five of us drove on the Friday to Rolling River in good order.

After a car shuffle 3km back down the road to opposite Chummies track, we started the trip. No bridge but the river was low which did not prevent our beloved leader slipping and taking a dip in the first minute! Chummies is an excellent track with a steep start but then works its way up the ridge through some lovely forest (4 hrs).

The exit to John Reid Hut in the high tussock basin involves some sidling which proved unnerving as the track is minimal and the surface was slippery with wet tussock and some snow. So, 1–2 hours later we finally reached the hut and set about hunting for firewood.

There was a strong wind and the open fire proved to an excellent source of smoke to disinfest the hu

 At nightfall we were joined by Tom of the Kea Trust who is tracking kea from Kahurangi to Arthurs Pass using high tech RT and camera gear. The kea populations all over the country are in steep decline due to a range of factors and the Trust deserves all the support it can get.

    Day 2 began windy and also misty as we ascended 300m to the ridge. There were no poles nor markers but the route along the western ridge was fairly obvious ... up and down with a few steepish pitches that strained the nerves of some.

The sun finally broke through as we neared Patriarch (4.5 hrs) with magnificent views of the Mt Owen massif, the three peaks of Patriarch, and across to Mt Luna. Mike, Pat and David dropped packs and did the scramble up to the summit of Patriarch (1.5 hrs return) before following the others down through the bush to Kiwi Saddle Hut (2 hrs)

 On the descent off the peak, figures were seen in the distance dancing along the ridge – three additional members who had chosen to do in one day what the main party had done in two days! This very tired trio joined us at the hut late afternoon; Kate and John tenting, Gina in the last bunk.

Kiwi Saddle Hut is an excellent six-bunker in a more sheltered situation and the fire did not smoke badly. David impressed with wood cutting using his improvised bow saw. Rain and some snow on the tops in the night. On the morning of Day Three we were still head in the clouds. It was decided that packing over the Luna Tops to Stone Hut was too risky and three decided to walk out down valley.

With sun cutting through at 9:30am the remaining five started a day trip to the Luna Tops. The first 300m climb to the bushline is on an excellent track, but then the unmarked route heads up a gnarly ridge above the basins, with one very steep pitch. I was very pleased not to be carrying a full pack!

We chose a less than ideal spot to exit the ridge and took a while to get down into the main basin (no snow; much clinging to tussock and small Dracophyllum). Then a saunter across to the saddle under Mount Luna for lunch (3.5hr). There were good views back east to Patriarch and west down into the Stone headwaters. Travel to the bushline looked straightforward where a marked track descends to the hut.

Mike had no takers for an ascent of Luna (windy, cool and we were tired). So, it was back the way we had come. Regaining the ridge via an easier route, we noted that past the drop to Luna Lake on the south side, a basin opened out which enabled us to avoid the steepest parts of the ridge and regain the track without difficulty (2 hrs return to KS Hut).

At the hut we were joined by three trampers of uncertain age from Christchurch. They had come from John Reid Hut and had found an iceaxe on the ridge. This proved to have slipped off the pack of one of us – a huge relief to person concerned as the iceaxe was borrowed – and lucky because few use that route early in the season.

After a night of rain and some snow, Day Four saw us head down Kiwi Stream in clearing weather. The track is excellent and the bush magnificent so an enjoyable morning.

At the Wangapeka River bridge (2 hrs), Chris and Pat went 30min upstream to visit Cecil King’s old hut (1935), still in excellent condition and just the place for a romantic tryst, if you like rats for company.

The trudge along the main Wangapeka track out to Rolling River (3 hrs) was not tedious due to the ever-changing vistas of river, forest and hills.

The dam creating Lake Wangapeka is gradually being worn down by the river so it is no longer necessary to take the high route.

Coffee with Mike and Heather at Tadmor completed an excellent round trip through wonderful country.

Pat Holland (leader); Andrea Cockerton, Chris Louth, Gina Andrews, John Whibley, Kate Krawcyzk, Mike Drake, and David Wells (visitor).

15 September 2013 – Hacket Hut – Mt Richmond FP
Leader: Jo Kay

The Hacket River and track has undergone some shape shifting caused by the recent flood. There was  a diversion round a washout shortly before the turn off to Whispering Falls.

We had a wee look along the closed Whispering Falls track to the first bridge washout and gained a good perspective of the force of the flood by the debris strewn over the track.

At the hut we were entertained by the resident weka living under the wood shed as she ventured out to grab our lunch crumbs.

We walked over to the Browning Hut track and returned to the car park at a leisurely pace allowing us to enjoy the scenery on this lovely spring day.

Walkers on this trip were Mike Locke, Bruce

Alley, Pam Smith, Agnieska Grudzinska and Jo Kay (trip leader & scribe)

28 September 2013 – Dew Lakes – Bryant Range, Nelson
Leader: Uta Purcell

Twelve trampers weaved their way up from the Maitai Dam to the ridgeline between Little Twin and Maungatapu Saddle. Showers gave way to sunshine and we were able to sit on the track for morning tea at the Argillite Quarry site.

For some it was their first visit; for others a return to a well-loved area. The man-made Rushpools had a little water in them.

We reached our high point and highlight, the Dew Lakes, just before midday. Eager to get all of the view before thickening  cloud and rain blurred it, we tip-toed through the spongy ground to the far side of the shallow lakes just in time but exposed to chilling winds.

Returning to the first of the lakes, we had lunch in the rain. The water levels on track were no different to other days.

Participants were: Laura Solomon (visitor), Dan McGuire, Alison Aaron, Jim Kjestrup (visitor), Natasha Kawrocki (visitor), Val Latimer, Dion Pont, Mary Honey, Charles Kerkham (visitor), Brian & Diane Renwick and Uta Purcell (scribe).

29 September 2013 – Parachute Rocks traverse Nelson Lakes NP
Leader: Andrea Cockerton

This trip was postponed from the previous week and the weather was again looking indeterminable. The plan was to rock on up to the Lakes and make a decision from there to head up to the ridge or to potter around the circular lake walk. In our heart of hearts we all wanted to go up ... not the easy option, so why is it one chooses to head up a track that by virtue of its name implies “effort of some magnitude?” (The Grunt trap-line).

So, the decision was unanimously reached by the time we came upon the start of the trapline, 45 minutes around the lake.

The trapline (marked blue) was easy to find, as it initially follows the true right of a stream and beguiles to its name by giving false hope, lots of chatter and no grunts. Well, it really was not too bad and we attained the height to the ridgeline 2.5 hours after we turned up the trapline, first climbing a spur, steep in places and offering promo views. The ridgeline took 3/4 hour to reach the large well-placed sign directing us back to St Arnaud.

 It was said that the ridgeline was short in comparison to the effort to get there and a greater distance would be appreciated, though the pros and cons depends on your poison! It was rocky and narrow in places, but the soft snow was not icy and the the plentiful rocks assisted our passage. The weather was kind too, the sun made a welcome appearance, there was little wind, and flurries of soft snow added to the ambience. The rain and hail was short lived and so our spirits were high.

We reached Parachute Rocks at 1.30pm opting for quick refreshments due to the elements and retreated down into the bush. We passed a stoic four-year-old heading up near the bushline with family in toe, all credit to them.

The walk down was uneventful, dappled sunshine through the beech forest, a rest by the stream, more chatter and lunch. All in all, a great day was had.

Happy trampers were Kate Krawczyk, Sue Henley, Jenny Chaddock, Chris Louth (navigator), Phillip Palmer, Bruce Alley & Andrea Cockerton (scribe.)

5–6 October 2013 – Browning Hut to Rocks Hut – Mt Richmond FP
Leader: Lawrie Halkett

The band of seven met at Lawries’ in Richmond and left on a shuttle ride to the start of the Hackett Track (thanks to Leif Christensen and Paul Henley for taxiing the group). The day was pretty foggy, but quite warm.

After nearly two hours of pleasant walking up the Hackett Stream, then up the Browning Creek, we arrived at Browning Hut expectantly, as Chris Louth had arrived the night before and had received instructions to have  ready a morning tea fit for royalty.

Alas, we were not met with the smell of freshly-baked scones and alluring perked coffee odours!

Chris indeed was there, but thought the instructions had been a joke! “No joke”, we said as we dolefully peeled off our muesli bar wrappers and sucked on our plastic drink bottles. And so our party became eight – the genders perfectly balanced.

Onward and upward it was, to Browning Pass, swinging east then north as we gained height and marched at a good pace toward Rocks Hut.

Fine views of Mount Richmond, Mt Fell and the Pelorus Valley were enjoyed. It felt good to be above suburbia, basking in broad sunlight while those less energetic below were experiencing a gloomy day!

When we stopped for lunch we heard from our two lads new to club tramps, Charles and Chris (not to be confused with our venerable club Programme Co-ordinator, the older Chris). Charles, as it happens is hugely musically talented, playing the cello, guitar and piano. To that collection, he had bought and was learning the bagpipes! He also paints in water colours.

Young Chris is a power lifter and painter. He won three gold medals and a silver at the Special Olympics in Shanghai in 2005. After hearing this, everyone wanted him to carry their packs! A couple of years ago Young Chris had an art exhibition at the Refinery in Nelson and sold all his paintings – he has another exhibition coming up in 2015.

As we marched on to Rocks we learnt more about out two new tramping companions. Both now want to add tramping to their impressive list of achievements.

Chris Louth and Sue steamed ahead to claim bunk space, given it was the school holidays and Rocks Hut is relatively close to Nelson City – we didn’t want to miss out on a comfortable night. As it happened, we only had to share the  hut with a trio of woman from Moutere.

Sunday dawned relatively fine though a little blustery as we hit Dun Mountain. Once on the Coppermine Trail we meet a number of bikers and some kindred spirits  (the Waimea Tramping Club), doing the Coppermine circuit. Downwards to Third House for lunch.

Eight satisfied trampers lay on the grass, soaking up the sun and reminiscing on what a wonderful weekend we all had experienced.

As Andrea casually rummaged through her pack seeking her lunch, she discovered three rather solid rocks that had, in some way or another, found their way into her pack!

Of course, everyone else professed complete ignorance as Andrea carefully scanned the seven other faces for any sign of guilt or over enthusiastic mirth, but alas the culprit was an excellent actor, as she was unable to ascertain who had  bestowed the  extra burden upon her. A great laugh was had by all while an accusing finger was pointed at an older member of the group!

The party spilt in two with Chris and the girls heading over Jenkins Hills and down the Involution cycle trail to Marsden Valley. Marie, Chris, Charles & Lawrie (leader & scribe) headed down to OK Coral and The Brook.

13 October 2013 – Dun Mtn/Maungatapu Circuit, Nelson
Leader: Chris Louth

An excellent turnout for what is quite a long day traversing part of the Bryant Range ridge-line from the SW to NE.

On a fine clear morning ten of us left the grassy knoll by the Maitai Dam caretaker’s house and steeled ourselves for the long, somewhat tedious, climb up to Dun Saddle.

Two and a half hours later, after a non-stop effort, we huddled behind what shelter we could find from the biting wind and had smoko amongst the rock formations.

Once up the short steep climb to the plateau of Dun Mountain the wind abated as we rock-hopped across the top to the emergency shelter. Some weren’t too keen to add Mt Maungatapu to the walk so we split into two groups here, with six doing the full circuit and the others dropping back down to the dam from Dew Lakes.

As it turned out, the advance party were’t too far in front up and over Little Twin and were having lunch at Dew Lakes when the others arrived.

We bid them farewell again and continued along the boggy track, up a short pitch over Maungatapu and another unnamed bump and then steeply down to the Maungatapu Saddle.

Sue’s ‘best friend’ Allan was showing amazing stamina as he continually trotted from back to front to ensure everyone was staying in touch. Our walk was to be about 25kms but by the end of the day he would have easily covered two or three times that distance!

Maungatapu Road has been closed to vehicles for a couple of years now and was quite rough in places on the descent. A couple of exasperating uphills (when you should be going down) saw us back at the cars just shy of eight hours after the start.

The whole route from the top of Dun Mountain to the Maungatapu Saddle alternates between beech forest and open patches of mineral belt country, where the bush is much thinner and lower and offers views over the coast to the north and the peaks of the Richmond Ranges to the south.

The full circuit was covered by Kate Krawczyk, John Whibley, Sue Henley and Allan, Bruce Alley, Andrea Cockerton and Chris Louth (leader and report), while Graham Ferrier, Ken Ridley, Dan McGuire and Bob Renshaw (visitor), elected the abbreviated version.

20 October 2013 – Maitai Caves, Nelson
Leader: Jo Kay

The beech forest and the sparkling pools of the Maitai River were the highlights of our walk to the Maitai caves.

The track is a shared pathway with mountain bikers descending from the Coppermine Saddle so yells of “biker!” and shuffling to one side of the track were another feature.

We had a short steep climb to the caves entrance and then lunch in the sun followed by an exploration of the caves.  The entrance requires you to stoop to get through then a steep and slippery climb takes you down to the floor of the vast cavern where a stream passes through to continue underground.  Jack and Sue were the most adventurous making it to the floor of the cave and Sue explored further into a second chamber while the rest of us enjoyed the above ground experience.

Those present on the walk were visitors Jack Savage (9 years old),  Ruth Collins, Barbara Bond, Judy Christal, Debbie Hamilton and members Sue Henley, Marie Lenting and Jo Kay (trip leader and scribe).





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