Trip Reports, Feb-April 2014

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  1. Mount Hope > Kahurangi NP
  2. Fenella Hut + Gibbs Hill > Kahurangi NP
  3. Pearse Resurgence & Nettlebed > Kahurangi NP
  4. Diamond Lakes > Kahurangi NP
  5. Rabbit Island Cycle Ride > Nelson
  6. Gloriana Peak > Nelson Lakes NP

16 February 2014 – Mount Hope, Kahurangi National Park
Leader: Andrea Cockerton

Grazing livestock put pay to the Devils Thumb trip, but out of disappointment sprung Hope! So we found ourselves, all six, on the unambiguous (thrown that in for Richard) start of the track marked only by two disguarded beer cans, on SH 6 near Kawatiri. The track has been marked over time with the sporadic DOC marker, occasional ribbon and more prominent white markers. It is easier to follow ascending, but care needed on the return as its more tricky to identify the route.
Initially, the route was a bit grunty, but levels out after eighty minutes as we headed up a spur towards the ridgeline.

The summit was not visible until out the bush and not obvious (as we actually summited a rock sculpture east of the summit, but ten metres higher.) En route to tipsy-mushroom/snail rock, we endured a degree of bush bashing with scrubby manuka bushes adorning the ridge.

On arrival, the leader threw a wee tante, which fell on deaf ears and she was duly photographed. (Shortcomings can be mentioned as they serve to strengthen the soul.) The views were fabulous, to the SE: Mount Ella, still with patchy snow; Mole Tops, Travers and St Arnaud Ranges; Mount Owen to the north and Mount Murchison to the SW. We could only wonder what other scroggin-eaters might be gazing at our little peak from across the valleys, as we tucked into lunch.

All too soon, we turned on our heels to head on down, arriving back in Nelson by 5pm. Recommendations: take lots of water and skin protection, (or you could follow the trail of skin we left, if markers prove difficult to follow.)

Thank you to happy trampers: Kate Krawczyk, Neil Henderson, Richard Talbort, Chris Louth and Bruce Alley. Written and dramatized by Andrea Cockerton.

28 Feb–2 March 2014 – Fenella Hut, Kahurangi National Park
Leader: Sue Henley

By the time Friday arrived our party of eight had dwindled to four, the perfect number to fit comfortably in our birthday boy’s car – with room to spare.

After a long, winding drive we eventually arrived at Trilobite Hut, greeted by freezing temperatures and howling wind. However, our birthday boy soon had a roaring fire going, accompanied by cake and our birthday song.

After a windy night we awoke to a clear, crisp and crunchy morning. We set off for Fenella Hut at a comfortable pace. Eventually the sun warmed us up. A morning smoko stop and chat with the occupants at Chaffeys Hut was enjoyed before continuing on to Fenella.

We arrived at Fenella with plenty of time for a leisurely lunch before deciding on an afternoon excursion to Cobb Lake and beyond. We all set off, and after admiring the tarns behind Fenella, we soon arrived at Cobb Lake. At this point, Elizabeth and Uta decided to loop back to the hut while Ken and I decided we were up for more adventure, aiming for Mount Cobb.

However, once we reached the ridge above Round Lake we realised time was not on our side. So, we decided on an alternative loop over Mount Gibbs, coming down the ridge through a mass of  tarns and then skirting around Xenicus Peak, eventually arriving back at the hut about 7pm, tired and pleased with ourselves.

A very pleasant night was spent in the hut about two-thirds full. Luckily, a group of chattery women had chosen to stay at Cobb Hut that night.

Next morning, we headed back down valley in perfect weather, our two botanists marvelling at the flora on display in the sunshine. We then enjoyed a cup of tea and birthday cake at Trilobite Hut before the long drive back to Nelson.

A big thank you to: Ken Ridley, our chauffeur and birthday boy, and to Elizabeth Dooley and Uta Purcell for joining me. I have to say that this has to go down as one the most enjoyable trips I have been on. Sue Henley, (scribe.)

2 March 2014 – Pearse Resurgence & Nettlebed – Kahurangi N.Park
Leader: Ross Price

Seven of us signed up for what we thought would be a nice summer walk following the Pearse River to its resurgence. It was a sunny day full of promise as we left the carpark and headed for our first river crossing at 9.30am. Shortly after, we crossed it again and Carole remarked that it would have been more useful for them to have cut the track on the same side of the river all the way along. Indeed there were another eleven crossings to come, not to mention having to do it all again on the return journey (26 crossings total). She was led to believe by someone close to her that she would only have to get wet feet a couple of times.

All went well for the first couple of hours during which time we enjoyed some stunning views looking down on the river and a pleasant break in a clearing at river level.

However, very soon after this a series of unfortunate events happened upon us. As we made the next river crossing, our leader foundered on some slippery, slimy riverbed rocks. He promptly fell over backwards, immersing himself to shoulder level and soaking all his clothes and most of the contents of his pack. But to his credit, most of the important items like camera, locator beacon and part of his lunch were saved from a soggy ending.

There was no time for sympathy – just as Ross picked himself up out of the river, another drama was unfolding not far ahead.
A wasp nest was discovered on the edge of the track. Poor Charles was a bit slow and was stung six times. Younger-Chris, his mate, picked up a couple as well. The remainder of the party scurried past it in double-quick time, unscathed. Older-and-wiser-Chris pulled a tree branch across the track to mark the spot for our return journey.

We reached the Pearse Resurgence after a three-hour walk with no further mishaps, stopping briefly for photo opps, as a solitary whio obliged us. A friendly robin perched close by to watch the action. A blue duck was spotted on three more occasions during the trip; some say it was the same whio disappearing and re-emerging to bask in the limelight, lap up all the attention.

Ross decided that this would be a good place to dry out wet gear. He stripped down to his undies and basked in the sun  at the caver’s campsite. His party boulder-hopped to the start of Eyles Creek to explore the entrance to the Nettlebed Cave for an hour. (In January 2014, Nettlebed was proven to link with the Stormy Pot system, creating the deepest cave in the country.)

Armed with torches and headlamps, we ventured underground for approximately 100 metres, encountering the odd stalactite and misleading cavern till where the pathway narrowed. Here, a rope disappeared down a vertical shaft into the blackness below. We were happy to retreat and leave further exploration to the next lot of cavers. Some of us learnt the hard way about the innocuous-looking stinging nettles: it is best not to touch them!

Back at the Resurgence we found a much warmer, more relaxed, restful, rejuvenated and resurgent Ross. We joined him for lunch.

The return trip proved to be nearly as good. On reaching the wasp’s nest, Ray, who was fresh from writing his latest newsletter editorial regarding ’team players’, decided to sacrifice himself for the team by distracting the wasps and taking a hit for the rest of us.

However, those cunning wasps were intent on savouring more juicier prey. Instantly recognising poor Charles, he suffered a further three stings. Just as well he’d outgrown his childhood allergy, as he lived to tell the tale.

By this time, the writer was feeling pretty left out of all this risk mis-management and decided to create some action of his own. As the track narrowed in the undergrowth, he stood on the edge and pivoted to warn those coming along behind him. In doing so, he lost his balance and fell a couple of metres down a bank and was caught by scrub below. He promptly clambered up, walked a few more metres and repeated the act. Apart from a sudden loss of dignity, Bruce was unscathed and very relieved to have escaped from the clutches of the river below. That served to quickly clear his mind and renew his focus.

Our barmy band of blunderers bravely battled on and made such good time that we shortened the return journey by 50 minutes. Our 7-hour ordeal was a character-building day-trip for some of the live-wires and loose-canons of our tramping club.

The pantomime players were: Ross Price, Chris and Carole Louth, Raymond Salisbury, Chris Tilley, Charles Kerkham and Bruce Alley (scribe).


7 March 2014 – Diamond Lakes – Kahurangi National Park
Leader: Andrea Cockerton

As a word, “Awesome” is apparently dead. It has been applied to every scenario from solar eclipses to summiting Everest, then worked its way into teenage vocabulary to mean literally anything that does not correlate to school or homework.  The remedy? A quick Google reveals at least 28 words to replace it.  Both Resplendent and Splendiferous and totally-kick-ass is Diamond Lake on a still day. A snapshot: ’the crisp reflections displaying 3D imagery, the symmetry of the landscape, a solitary cheeky weka waddling, the harmony of the tuis, cloudless sky, the distant moreporks cooing lullabies as they settle to sleep’. 28 words don’t even cut it. 

Diamond Lake was just one gem of seven, and our home for two nights. We had a leisurely start on Friday, arriving at the road end at midday, lunching at Sylvester Hut. Opting for the known route, we dropped into the basin below Lake Lillie and then sidled north west above the bush-line until well-marked cairns indicated the drop to Diamond Lake. A welcome dip followed. Plenty of firewood led to a comfortable night and lots of chit chat. Annette regaled us with her tales of the Lockett people.  A weka joined us by the camp fire (later trying its luck with our boots).

A beautiful dawn included a distant kiwi in the chorus, welcoming us to a new day. Our destination was Lake Lockett and we delighted in finding a well-marked route on the true left of Diamond Lake stream outlet. Following red markers, we kept good altitude, making for a cruisy walk, sidling around, and finally up, through clearings to the Lake.

Nina opted to relax and swim before heading towards Ruby Lake. We headed into the bush to find the spur taking us east of Lake Lockett onto aridge. Relatively easy bush meant we were topping out within the hour to a 360-degree panorama. We explored the ridgeline as far east as practical, meeting up with two four-legged white-bottomed beasts with beards. These curious creatures came within 50 metres, bemused by the seemingly one way conversation. Eventually, even our best goat chords did not amuse and they moved on.

Barry impressed us with his artistic skills, which call for an ’ocean of patience’. Wikipedia defines this as “an art, discipline or hobby, depending on the intent of the practitioner.”

By the day’s end, three rock art sculptures stood along the ridgeline, each incrementally bigger. We had to leave, or Barry would have had us moving boulders. As it was, we traversed over Mt Lockett and past the summit point (1610m) before heading down a steep grassy slope into the valley.

Nina had been watching our progress from below. We happily regrouped. The wonderful romp along the ridge had used precious time, so it was 5pm when we  turned for home, having seen a tantalizing glimpse of Lake Ruby. Not such a straightforward trot to Diamond Lake; more akin to a battlefield: rough ground, camouflaged and boggy in parts, well-loved by speargrass, towering two metres high. A bloody hour later we arrived at the lakehead, where a lovely path took us along the west shoreline to base camp. Refreshed by a dip and roasted by fire, blissful sleep finally came.

Our final day was spent retracing our steps to Lake Lillie, then up and over Iron Hill. We returned in time for Nina to rendezvous her friend in Motueka, but not before entertaining the locals with some impromptu dance grooves in the pub car park; Nina and Annette being somewhat pros.

Thank you for great company: Nina, Annette and Barry.  Written and produced, in small part, by Andrea Cockerton.

23 March 2014 – Cycle Ride to Rabbit Island, Nelson
Leader: Lawrie Halkett

A beautiful day with clear skies and light winds saw eight NTC cyclists gather in Richmond to ride the Great Taste Trail to Rabbit Island.

It is an awesome ride when the tide is high, but unfortunately, we saw lots of mudflats as we peddled our way westward. There were plenty of other people that had  the same idea as us, as the cycleway was, at times, a little congested. There were people of all ages including family groups.

We made it in time to catch the 11am flat-
bottomed ferry to Mapua for lunch and the mandatory ice creams.

1pm we waved farewell to one of our team (Brenda), who was being collected by her family and returning to Upper Moutere, while the rest of us shuttled back across to Rabbit Island.

Being such a great day, all the ladies went swimming while John and Lawrie posed as lifeguards (as they brought no togs).

A marvellous day was topped off by an incoming tide, fantastic scenery and abundant birdlife.

The happy bikers included: Brenda Sincalir, Bruce Alley, Kathy Smith, Kate Krawczyk, Jo (Kate’s Mum), John (Kate’s man), Lawrie (scribe)

2930 March 2014 – Gloriana Peak, Spenser Mountains

From the St James Walkway carpark, seven set forth, less Mike, who had unfortunately, an injured back.

We followed the walkway, along the Maruia River, which alternated between beech forest & open meadows to firstly Cannibal Gorge Hut & then another hour up to Ada Pass Hut. (4 hrs total incl lunch).

The next day (7:15 start) we entered the ‘relatively’ easy bush directly opposite the hut, & 40 minutes later emerged into a tussock basin. Brian, who was the delegated route finder, did a great job as we emerged from the bush right opposite some stone cairns & a flagged tree. We followed the valley up, passing a series of tarns & began boulder-hopping our way to the top of a saddle just east of Pk 2087.

From here we split; Andrea & Barry looking at a route including Three Tarn Pass, while the rest of us sidled scree slopes eastward to a prominent rock step along the SW ridge of Gloriana. A scramble up this lead to a summit (12pm), at just over 2200m, some 500m SW of Gloriana Peak, but only a few metres difference in elevation. Satisfied in gaining this peak, with the usual (in good weather) grand views, we descended north off the ridge down scree slopes, parting with Gina, who was to link up with the other two. We made it back to the hut by 3;30pm, then a three hour walk back to the car.

Participants: Brian Renwick, Gina Andrews, Andrea Cockerton, Barry James, Roman & Lenka (Czech visitors), Liam Sullivan (scribe), Mike Drake (trip co-ordinator).

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