Trip Reports, Jan-Feb 2014

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  1. Big Beach Clean-Up > Cable Bay Walkway, Nelson
  2. Tapuae-o-Uenuku > Marlborough
  3. Anchorage Hut > Abel Tasman NP
  4. Mount Arthur > Kahurangi NP
  5. Cloustons Mine circuit > Kahurangi NP
  6. Robert Ridge > Nelson Lakes NP
  7. Crusader peak > Kahurangi NP
  8. Mole Tops > Nelson Lakes NP

1 December 2013 – Big Beach Cleanup – Horoirangi Marine Reserve
Leader: Bob Janssen

Nine hardy souls gathered at Glen Duan, down from the 16 registered due to the inclement weather. The main BBCU was on 9 November, but we delayed for a more favourable tide.

We ascended up the Cable Bay walkway into lowering cloud and mist. At the toilet/shelter atop the airstrip, it began to rain quite heavily. We decided that the steep descent from the saddle to the reserve would be treacherous when wet. So, discretion being the better part of valour, we descended back to the Glen and headed NE along along the beach towards MacKay Bluff, setting aside rubbish for the return.

It took about two hours to reach the end of the marine reserve beneath Sentinel Hill. The weather improved during this period and became nearly fine although breezy. Two disappeared up the steep, but now dry, slopes to the saddle for a return along the walkway. The rest trudged back to Glen Duan collecting a modest amount of rubbish along the way (filling the rear of Bob’s 4WD). Not collected were four large black mussel buoys, one large steel crayfish pot, two dead goats, one dead shag and, unfortunately, one dead blue penguin. We also sighted a large pod of orca and some surfers – all alive!

It was a pleasant day’s workout: 2km and 400m vertical to the airstrip then return and 9km along the bouldery beach (there and back). Plus, of course, NTC’s contribution to a huge community effort. Thanks to DOC’s Janice Gravett for coordinating.

Helpers were: Bob Janssen, Pat Holland, Marie Lenting, Kelvin Drew, Bruce Alley, Ian Morris, Richard Talbot, David Blunt & Zoe Alder (visitor).


13–15 December 2013 – Tapuae-o-Uenuku – Inland Kaikoura Range
Leader: Mike Drake


Our trip effectively began at the entrance to Bluff Station, Kekerengu, some 68 south of Blenheim. This high country station, running both merino sheep & beef cattle, covers some 13800 ha and includes some impressive scenery. Five of us in Mike’s 4WD were able to soak it up as we travelled over 30km along a well-maintained metalled road through the station, with not a gorse or broom bush in site, but plenty of manuka in flower (plus gates to open and close).

After two hours’ driving, we parked up at the end of the airstrip just along from Branch Cottage. After a relaxing lunch, we reluctantly hoisted on our heavily laden packs, headed west across farm meadows and gained the ridge above the true left of Branch Stream. This was followed up to the 1300m mark before sidling across a large scree slope, descending a tributary of Branch Stream, gaining another narrow scree ridge & further stream crossing before eventually arriving at our campsite (4.5 hours) at some 1500m on a plateau at the foot of a wide gully. The gully ultimately leads to a saddle between the summit of Tappy and the rocky top of Pt.2711, which was to be the following day’s route.

Another party of young climbers, intent on the same route as us, were already in camp. Fortunately, there was plenty of tent space.

The following morning, it was the scribe’s duty to give the 4am wake-up call. By quarter to five, it was with some horror that Mark, who had been mistakenly assumed awoken, was still sound asleep. We set off at 5am leaving him to hurriedly get sorted. We began climbing NW up the wide gully, initially up a large scree slope. Mark, his poles working like pistons, easily caught up with us as we gained altitude.

Out to the east, the sky was clear but the valley below was covered in a blanket of early morning cloud, pierced only by the tops of the Seaward Kaikoura Range.

Once onto unbroken snow slopes, we donned crampons, climbed to the saddle and gained the SW ridge. The snow was much firmer from here as we made our way carefully along the more exposed ridge and last 200m to the summit (5–5.5 hours).

 The day was clear and calm, with unhindered views, most notably south to the Clarence River  and to the aptly-named summit of Mt Alarm.

We retraced our steps back to campsite by early afternoon where we had the opportunity to relax in the afternoon sun with a wash in the nearby snow-fed stream.

The following morning afforded us the luxury of a sleep-in till 6am. Then a 3.5-hour walk back out to the vehicle. After a coffee back at Kekerengu on SH1 we said goodbye to Pam, who was driving south, & headed back to Nelson, tired but content with having spent another great weekend in the Hills.

Participants were: Mike Drake (leader), Gina Andrews, Mark Stevens, Pam McKelvey, (visitor), & Liam Sullivan (scribe).

14 December 2013 – Anchorage Hut – Abel Tasman Coastal Track
Leader: Uta Purcell


We set off early. Soon, though, we were among the many tourists, all enjoying the contrasting colours of the ATCT on a brilliant summers day.

In our group of six trampers we were thrilled to have a visitor from the North Island, Barbara Morris from Taupo, who is an FMC Executive member. It provided a good opportunity for sharing.

After an appraising look at the new and impressive Anchorage Hut, we enjoyed lunch in the shade. There were picknicking parties with big chilly bins straight off a boat. One smartly dressed party, adorned with leis, promenading around, would also have dropped in by boat. That sight really made us feel like trampers. A highlight for most of us was to observe a different kind of family on the bank behind the hut: two quails with perfectly camouflaged, tiny, fluffy balls of chicks. After an hour we were quite happy to leave the setting of a South Pacific paradise and tramp up the hill again. For a side trip we went down to Watering Cove, which we expected to be isolated and quiet. One tent was pitched, festooned with chilly bins, sunbathers behind rocks, beached kayaks, and several kayaking groups receiving their instructions on the beach before launching themselves. That was a hilarious source of yet more entertainment. When we returned to Marahau at 5pm, we had been out for 8 1/2 hours with ample breaks, feeling slightly weary: Elizabeth Dooley, Val Latimer, Philip Palmer, Zoe Alder (visitor), Barbara Morris (FMC Executive visitor) & Uta Purcell (scribe).

15 December 2013 – Mount Arthur – Kahurangi National Park
Leader: Andrea Cockerton


Nine others took up the challenge to work off some calories before the Christmas indulgence. Leaving Nelson at 8am we headed out to brilliant blue skies, our destination calling from the horizon. The Graham Valley Road, forever changed since the slip, still looked precarious to us but remains accessible to two wheel drive vehicles as before.

A few cars littered the carpark, but we met only one family heading up to the summit that day. Choosing the Flora Saddle Track, we meandered up to Mount Arthur Hut.

We were rewarded with splendid views from the ridge, with the Cobb Valley to the North West dominated by the Lockett Range. We trod amongst the yellow Rannunclus, Bulbinella hookeri (Maori Onion), Anisotome pilifera (Alpine carrot), flowering Spaniards and dandelions.

As we approached the turn off to Gordons Pyramid, chatter turned to return route options from the summit.

Traversing up to the summit, one happy tramper opted for some sunny R’n’R and waited for party members to descend. The summit was calm and tolerated the arrival of nine festive Santas atop,. Thanks were made and several cherry stones planted.

Two returned the traditional route down and the rest of us made downward tracks via the north-east ridge. Barry’s cave was an interesting find. Basically, it meant dropping down the north side of the ridge, popping through a hole in the rocks, and out onto the south side. The ‘hole’ involved a short descent, a step over a void, then a climb.

In searching for the entrance, one tramper inadvertently ended up enroute to the Leslie River, or at least that was where it seemed when he was finally spotted 30 minutes later. (It’s a long story but one with a happy ending. He would have got a good spanking for all the worry caused, had he not been so cheerful.)

We finally assembled on the Gordons Pyramid track and soon made our rendezvous.

The rest of the walk was, thankfully, uneventful and we were no less subdued on the return. Arriving at the cars by 6pm, everyone had earned their Christmas Santa (yes, even the naughty one) and Aunt Dorothy’s Ambrosia Pudding recipe.

Thank you to everyone for a most enjoyable day. Trampers were: Kate Krawczyk, Marijke Boers, Richard Talbot, Mark Graesser, Bruce Alley, Grayham Ferrier, Barry James, Ken Ridley, Ian Morris and myself, Andrea Cockerton (scribe).

4 January 2014 – Cloustons Mine Circuit – Kahurangi National Park
Leader: Chris Louth


After a series of cancelled trips, due to either the weather or a lack of participants, it was nice to see a trip go ahead.

Bad weather was due in the late afternoon so we decided to go clockwise around the circuit and tackle the high country across to Gordons Pyramid before the wind and rain arrived.

Five of the regular suspects set off from Flora Saddle and made good time up the well-worn track past the hut and on to the ridges below Mt Arthur.

The alpine flowers and prolific flowering Spaniards made for a very pleasant walk. Many stories were recounted along the way though some of the topics would make grannys blush and young children cover their ears.

From the top of Gordons Pyramid, we followed the new blue snow poles back down to the bush-edge at Cloustons Mine. As usual the floor of the mine was under six inches of water so we didn’t venture too far in.

An hour later we were at the junction of the main Flora-Salisbury Lodge track and decided to head a bit further along and check out Gridiron Gulch.

A group had taken up semi-permanent residence in the upper shelter and we noticed that a DoC ranger had been there the day before and, in their absence, had written in the hut book that he would be back in a couple of days to evict them. They had written a barely decipherable, rambling diatribe after his entry that led to Kate deducing they were ‘Germans’.

Just before Flora Hut, we caught up with a lady from Friends of Flora monitoring kiwi in the area with a radio tracker. She kindly answered a barrage of questions, explaining the 28 known birds in the Flora Stream/Deep Creek area. One pair incubating an egg is a testament to the good work this group have done controlling predators in the area since 2001.

We arrived back at the cars, seven hours after leaving, with impeccable timing as the first drops of the forecast rain started falling.

Sometimes hilarious, always entertaining the crew were: Kate Krawczyk, Andrea Cockerton, John Whibley, Sue Henley & Chris Louth (scribe).

12 January 2014 – Robert Ridge – Nelson Lakes NP
Leader: Andrea Cockerton


Nelson lakes, a familiar tramping ground for the club. Is it possible to tire of the Robert Ridge on a glorious day? ...the Pinchgut track, perhaps!

The circuit took us up Robert Ridge to Julius Summit and dropped us down into the Speargrass On cruise control, with the odd grunt thrown in, the route took seven hours. The great vista on this fine day revealed how busy this track is, with trampers to-ing and fro-ing to Angelus Hut, expelling the previous nights’ full house and awaiting the new influx.

We joined the flow just as far as Julius Summit, stopping with a crowd to enjoy the antics of four kea. The playful birds chatted away, admiring various goods, not shy, bold in colour and damned difficult to photograph in flight! (Not that this deterred one member’s visual instruction on how to flap your wings and pose).

Moving on, Kate and John opted for a scree run to the basin beneath Julius. Others traversed around and boulder-hopped down to meet them. We then followed a spur, initially out in the open dwarfed by the Robert Ridge and later heading into the bush to follow a good track.

Here, we then competed with our GPS’s, Chris goading Andrea to find the bridge leading to Speargrass Hut. Other trampers were wondering if we knew where we were going. They had their confidence installed when we practically fell onto the bridge.

A fine and dandy rest at the hut, then a stroll along the river and finally, the bit up to the cars.

Souls brave to follow my GPS were: Richard Talbort, Bruce Alley (no spanking threats applied this trip), Dan McGuire, Chris Louth, David Wheeler, Graeme Ferrier, Kate Krawcyk, John Whibley & Andrea Cockerton (scribe).

18 January 2014 – Crusader from Flora – Kahurangi
Leader: Chris Louth


For the second time in three weeks we were up at Flora Saddle, this time for a ridge walk to Crusader. This peak is usually done as part of a crossover from Mt Campbell but, so everyone could walk together and to save the hassle of a car shuffle, it was decided to do an in-and-out trip.

Six club members were joined at the carpark by guests Kenny and his two kids Charlie and Joe, aged 12 and 10 respectively. I had some doubts that they’d be able to handle the walk. But the lads put most of the adults to shame, no problem at all!

We made short work of the climb up Lodestone and rested in brilliant sunshine on the top to survey the route ahead. The ridge plunged down from Lodestone but looked fairly straightforward from above.

The ridge generally undulated through quite open forest, with a faint track in places and the odd piece of pink or blue ribbon.

As we approached Mt McMahon the ridge steepened and became much rougher until we emerged above the bush-line once more. From here Crusader was just a 30 minutes on. 4.5 hours after leaving the cars, we reached the top.

On the summit, Kenny phoned a mate near Motueka and asked him to go outside and point a mirror towards us. We could clearly see the flashes as he got his angles of incidence and reflection right.

Thankful that we (Andrea mainly) didn’t have to tackle the much steeper northern side of Crusader, we retraced our route down through tussock, nei nei, and into the bush.

The last 400m climb back up to Lodestone was a real challenge after all the other ups and downs of the day had taken their toll, and we flopped in the sunshine on the top for half an hour before the final descent back to the cars. The round trip took about nine hours, including stops.

Crusaders were Sue Henley, Kate Krawczyk, John Whibley, Andrea Cockerton, Bruce Alley & Chris Louth (scribe). Kenny and his two very polite, very fit boys, Charlie & Joe, came along as guests.

1–3 February 2014 – Mole Tops – Nelson Lakes National Park
Leader: Andrea Cockerton


With the promise of glorious weather and magnificent views there were no shortage of willing participants keen to explore the Mole Tops. Choosing to travel via the scenic old road to Murchison  from Lake Rotoroa  (Braeburn), with only an assembly of horse riders sharing the road that day, we safely arrived at our start point in the Matakitaki Valley.

There are two tracked options to Mole Saddle . We chose the Jamieson Ridge track, initially following the true right of Mole Stream and later climbing slowly up 700m over 7km to a delightful ridge. Tantalising glimpses of the tops could be seen and the delightful melodies of the  kaka and bellbirds heard.

We had all elected to camp, which turned out to be a sensible decision as the tiny, cramped Mole Hut accommodates four, but has no suitable campground nearby.

Choosing fine real estate on Mole Saddle with 360-degree vistas it became home from home. The nearby water source colloquially became known as Tadpole Tarn and served well (if you liked tadpole tea). For the more energetic (or vegetarian) a stream was a further ten-minute walk south. The more delectable offerings from nature were the abundant snowberries and nectar of the flax.

We rose eagerly to calm, cloudless skies. The route to the tops is marked from the hut and from the saddle a well-used spur serves equally well to join the track further up. After around ninety minutes we topped out, and what a magnificent sight to behold...

To the east lies the striking skyline of the mighty Travers Range dominated by Mts Travers, Cupola, Hopeless and Angelus. The Mahanga range and Mt Misery, separating the Sabine and Durville Valleys, a splendid foreground and the tarns and basins on Mole Tops completed the vista. The snow-topped Mt Ella, just visible to the south and even lake Rotoroa to the north gets a look in.

 The tops consisted of two large basins and our party headed into the second basin towards Mt Watson. Here, Ken and Lou headed up a nearby peak off a spur between the basins. Peter and Nina went for an amble around the basins and the rest continued along the ridge. Ahead, some uninviting rocky climbs on the ridgeline halted progress towards Mt Watson.  Sue decided to rest easy and Barry scrambled down the scree to the west to pick up the ridge further along. The rest headed east,   joining the ridge an hour later as Barry was on his final assent 100m ahead. We waved merrily, us on the now-named Paparazzi Rock and Barry en route to Mt Watson. Barry continued on his way as we decided to head back to check out the ridge north of the tops above Lake Rotoroa.

Picking up Sue and Nina along the way, we met the others at the ‘Mole Top Riveria’ tarn. Perfectly positioned stones provided good launch pads and much hilarity eventuated. One brave soul, wearing just his birthday suit and glasses, promptly lost the latter as he dived in. With full audience participation and in good team spirit, the said spectacles were duly located and returned.

Refreshed, we all headed to check out the northern ridge, some rested easy along the way to wait for our return.

One soon realises that ‘lets just get to point’ rarely ever collates to X being the end point, coining the phrase ‘incremental walking.’ Ah, the innocence of newbies – this is motivational walking at its best!

Finally satisfied by all the Point X’s of the day we made downward tracks, not before spotting Barry on his return. We arrived back ten hours after departing, Barry sharing his story and photos on his return, having taken a further 40 minutes to reach Mt Watson and coming back via a quaint stream with pretty celmisias, abundant in the area.

On Monday we awoke to mists; the night had been warm. Feeling rested and refreshed, we decided to head back down the ridge track.

A big thank you to everyone who all individually made this an awesome trip. Happy trampers were Pete Peters, Kate Krawcyk, Chris Louth, Ian and Sue Dohoo, Ken Ridley, Barry James, Nina Solter and Lou Kolff. Written and (sort of) coordinated by Andrea Cockerton (scribe).

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