Trip Reports, December 2008

2 November 2008 Marsden Valley Bush Walks Organiser: Robyn Walsh 

A rendezvous at 9.00am on The Ridgeway behind Isel Park gathered the seven trip hopefuls. A short drive up Marsden Valley followed, parking the cars at the War Memorial Monument from where we rambled around the circuit track through the schools’ plantings and self-sown native trees. The lowering cloud brought some drizzle but luckily that was all we received all day. A small bridge across a dry creek, further on up this circuit must have been vandalised because a handrail was now broken off and lying on the ground. With this circuit completed we moved the cars to the main carpark. The narrowing road to the end of the valley and the weir was our next objective. At the road end snacks were partaken beside the damp picnic table about 11.00am. The normally deep pool behind the weir was full to the brim with river stones and gravel and looked just like part of the riverbed. Crossing the creek here and climbing a steep bank we headed down-valley on a bushy ridge. We ended up crossing the creek three times once we got down to its level. A straight track took us back to the Barnicoat Walkway road which was quite muddy and everyone’s boots gathered a thick layer of clay around the soles. We climbed this road taking a left branching side road about half way up which led onto one of those wonderfully steep firebreaks. Our lunch stop came at the top of this at 12.30pm; some flat ground was found for our lunch which we ate with fog wafting around us so there were no nice views today. Back on our feet at 1.30pm to descend the much steeper and original Barnicoat Walkway and the air temperature seemed to rise as we got lower. Arrival at the cars came at 2.15pm under still overcast skies, but everyone seemed to enjoy this above Stoke stroll. The seven strollers were Jim Maxwell, Gillian Arbuthnott, Jane Dewar, Sandra Lawn, Sue and Mike Locke and Robyn Walsh.



1-2 November 2008Rocks Hut/Dun Mountain Cancelled due to weather

Alternate: 2 November 2008Dun Mountain Traverse Organiser: Margot Syms 

With a nasty forecast for Saturday the enlisted troops were looking for an excuse to rebel. The suggestion of replacing the weekend with a Sunday day trip on a good forecast brought them back into line. Not that they were getting let off lightly with a 1200m climb and a good eight hour trip. On the day the weather was a little disappointing with no sun, but at least no rain nor drizzle, and no wind. Actually I lie; we had two by five minute spells of sun. Still we were dry and no one complained of overheating. We crossed the Maitai, and then headed up the track on the mineral-belt vegetation face of Dun Mountain to Dun Saddle, admiring the rata about to burst into song. I will have to confess that the poles were useful traversing the summit. A slightly huddled lunch was partaken in the saddle before we tackled Little Twin. The bush there with the cedars is magnificent. We skirted around the tip of the mother of all domino windfalls then down to the Dew Lakes. One of which, Uta informed us, dries out in Summer. But it is not summer yet. Back to the dam with a glimpse of the Rush Pool en route, and volunteers were called for to go up to the caretaker’s house to get the car. A press-gang was not required. Party: Uta Purcell, Dan McGuire, Peter and Margot Syms.


9 November 2008 Gordons Knob Organiser: Carole Crocker 

Twelve intrepid trampers re-grouped at Wakefield at about 8.30am and we set off in three vehicles. After arriving at the carpark at Inwoods Lookout we set off on our tramp in very pleasant conditions. Carole had been contacted by someone “in the know” that the track had only just been cleared, so we were quite possibly the first tramping group through since the big storm in July. Therefore, the early part of the track was very open and easy for us. It was a very pleasant though oft-times steep climb up the ridge line, with glorious views of the valleys below, and snow-capped mountains beyond. Some of the tussock was a beautiful russet colour which made the sub-alpine landscape very attractive. It was a lovely morning to be up high. After a couple of hours, we took an “interesting” route through the beech forest for a while, where we were sidling, and slipping and sliding. Eventually we emerged into the open again, which was a relief. Later on, as we approached the summit we encountered quite a bit of snow, and the mist quickly rolled in, so full storm gear became the order of the day. We pressed on and reached a summit plateau of about 1600 metres. It was very difficult to say quite where we were as it was almost white-out at this stage, but Mike’s GPS gave us reassurance that we were not misplaced. A couple of misty summit photos were taken, and then we retraced our steps for a while and settled in a sheltered spot for lunch, before heading down again. The day did not improve from then on, and the mist followed us down the ridge, and almost back to the cars. In spite of the weather it was a great day out – many thanks, Carole for organising it. 

The mountaineers – Carole Crocker, Pat Holland, Barry James, Julie Sherratt, Mark Stevens, John McCartin, David Blunt, Jane Dewar, Mark & Nolene Tullett, and Mike & Sue Locke (scribe).
8 – 9 November 2008 Patutu Organiser: Uta Purcell 

The forecast promised more than it held for this two day trip to Okiwi Bay north of Kaikoura. Going up Patutu on the first day was in hindsight the better choice. The summit party of three ended up in patches of snow, in the clouds, without views from the top of Te Ao Whekere or Tapi. But the intense turquoise and blue colour of the ocean, the mouth of the Clarence River and the Kaikoura Peninsula was enjoyed by all, even the party of two that went to the saddle. Six hours later we had chosen our campsite at the start of the track and opposite the carpark, which is frequented by hunters and quad bikes. We had encountered some on the track and we also talked to two members of the Peninsular Tramping Club, a club we have encountered before. Having trains pass was a novelty. Of course, the train driver waved and gave the kid, Gretchen, a thrill while she climbed the fence. So as not to feel as if we were in India, we had to choose our toilet sites with care. We nibbled on shared goodies and cooked and ate most of the evening. Mulled wine had its effect on our party of five women. Companionship and laughter united us. There was also time for a beach walk to check out the surfers. Their women around a warming fire created a bit of atmosphere. During the night we heard motorbike noises but felt safe. Towards morning, at different hours, we all made our own discovery of the Knight Rider who had dropped in late in the evening. Tony Haddon, flying back to Nelson from an FMC Executive Meeting in Wellington, felt like a night motorbike ride. We found him in his sleeping bag under the trees. Not even Gretchen in her tent knew that he was there.

Sunday morning, after a lovely dawn chorus, was quite overcast and the wind force increased. The Store at Kekerengu is always inviting, not only for another breakfast, but on this day we were also keen to learn about the election results. These we were fed by a true-blue farmer from Fairlie. At Ward we turned off to the beach with its interesting limestone rocks, a number of seals, and about three dead penguins, likely to have been washed up in a gale. It was an energetic walk in strong wind, which blew the drying kelp along the beach. For lunch we had to find shelter in Ward Domain. It rained during the drive home. Near Nelson all traffic stopped for about 15 minutes. The delay was caused by a recent and big slip that had crossed the highway and was gradually being cleared. As Jo put it: "a very diverse tramping weekend". Participants: Gretchen Williams, Jo Kay, Ruth Hesselyn, Christine Hoy and Uta Purcell. 
16 November 2008 Ruby Bay Cancelled Organiser: Gavin Holmwood 

14-16 November 2008 Mokihinui River Gorge Organiser: David Blunt Cancelled. Lack of support

23 November 2008 Rabbit Island Cancelled. Weather Organiser: Katie Cloughley 

22-23 November 2008 Conners Creek Cancelled. Weather Organiser: Pat Holland
30 November 2008 Lodestone Organiser: Gillian Arbuthnott 

Imagination and the mind’s eye needed to go into top gear in so far as the view was concerned as the low cloud rolled in and out continuously in this beautiful area of the Kahurangi National Park. However, clambering uphill through beech forest dripping with lichen, the birdsong and the company of a friendly weka at morning tea were just some of the rewards for the lack of picture postcard views which we knew were out there anyway. Traps are prolific along the track and yahoo, the carcass of a dead possum dangling from a trap set high in a tree. Emerging from the forest out onto the rocky outcrops, into the sparse vegetation and low clouds demands space in your pack for a copy of Wuthering Heights or A Peculiar Music, the poems of Emily Brontë. A lazy lunch break atop Lodestone was followed by a steep and rapid descent by means of a rocky track and a walk through “the enchanted forest” yet again, which brought us to the Flora Hut. On the sun - drenched grassy area, which provided a welcome rest area before the final energy burst back to the carpark, under the instruction of Peter, Gretchen valiantly endeavoured to imitate birds and ducks by blowing on a blade of grass firmly placed between her thumbs. Thank you for your company fellow Lodestone Loafers: Christine Hoy, Gillian Arbuthnott, Gretchen Williams, Jane Dewar, Katie and Maurice Cloughley, Margot and Peter Syms, Mary Wu, Sue and Mike Locke, Uta Purcell and Australian visitor, Geoff Hewlett.
29- 30 November 2008 Hellfire Creek Track clearing Organiser: Dion Pont 

On a nice hot sunny day the group crossed the bridge over the Wairau River and started clearing overgrown and snow damaged bush at both the beginning of the track and down the right hand bank. At least it was only a short patch of bush and the rest of the way was on grassy flats, at the end of which was a large patch of bush through which we cut a track. Here we needed to use the river bank to circumnavigate the area. Three of the group crossed the Hellfire Creek to the start of the Hellfire Track where there was a lot of snow damage and we gradually worked our way through this until lunchtime. From here on the there was less damage on the track and we soon arrived at the place where we had finished clearing on a previous trip, and then it was on to the creek where we cleared the banks on both sides so as the track markers were visible. In all we were pleased to have cleared an area about 500 metres beyond the previous finishing point so decided to call it a day and made our way back to the vehicles and home.

Thanks to Dion Pont, Ruth Hesselyn, Mark Stevens, Pat Holland, David Blunt and Beverley Muirhead.
6 December 2008 Nydia Saddle Organiser: Uta Purcell 545 0280 

Twelve trampers, ranging in age from 10 to 76, left early for a delightful walk from Duncan Bay to Nydia Saddle. For some it was their first time in this part of Tennyson Inlet in the Marlborough Sound. The road travels up to the Opouri Saddle, from which one can get the first view over the Sounds. The view we met with gave us quite a surprise. An articulated removal van was parked across the entrance to the car park. The driver was literally stuck; he knew he could not proceed on the narrow, winding road. He should never have been sent there. We were relieved to see he was gone when we passed there on our homeward journey. It was cool to start with but the sunny day made us appreciative of the shade of the bush later on. Until morning tea we had picturesque sea views. Everyone found their own pace up to the saddle with hardly a view of Nydia Bay left, but still a good lunch spot. Eager young eyes found red ants – not on us – but on an old tree trunk! 

Before our return to the car park at 3.30pm we rested in the breeze of Pippi Beach, which was also enjoyed by some anglers. The tramp was shared by Willy Stewart, Beverley Muirhead, Mike and Sue Locke, Jane Dewar, Val Latimer, Dion and Barry Pont, Uta Purcell and visitors Louise Gauld, Geoff Hewlett and Liam Pont. 
5-7 December 2008 Wangapeka Options Cancelled. Organiser: Bob Janssen 

Alternate: 6 December 2008 Conners Creek – Hamilton River Organiser: Ruth Hesselyn 

Saturday morning found two trampers gliding along the newly graded Wairau Road. Ruth and I had been the only takers for the scheduled Wangapeka Option but decided to check out the Connors trip, previously cancelled due to bad weather. Snow-fallen trees had been cleared by DoC up Connors Creek, but the Begley and Hamilton Valleys was an unknown. So, armed with one machete, small saw and tents we were prepared for anything. Debris from a large avalanche was the only obstacle in Connors Creek. However, while looking ahead as we proceeded down into the Begley, I saw a large shadow pass just ahead of Ruth. Shortly afterwards a huge hare ambled away into the bush. Possibly it had been eyeing Ruth as a possible snack? No further problems were encountered following the creek down to the Begley. After 2.5 km of mainly criss-crossing the Begley a campsite was located just before the side stream from the 70m waterfall. Sandflies must have had advanced warning, as we had a number in attendance during dinner. I ate dinner walking around. Ruth seems to be immune to sandflies; perhaps a diet of olive oil provides an adequate deterrent. After dinner we dashed to our tents, mugs of tea in hand to escape the onslaught. A crisp morning kept the sandfly numbers down during breakfast. After checking out the 70m waterfall, the soggy tents were packed and we continued along the true left of the creek then followed an obvious gully towards the saddle. We were eventually forced out of the gully onto the spur on the left. The grassy spur was followed up to some chunky scree and then across onto a rocky outcrop, and finally dropped down to the saddle. Progress down the Hamilton was fine until the official track started. The snow-fallen tree debris then started to become apparent, the machete was wielded to ease our passage. No deviation from the track was necessary. In one place part of the track had collapsed into the river. Once back at the car park Ruth hopped onto her trusty bike to retrieve the car, while I bathed then relaxed in my tent, awaiting transport. A very pleasant weekend with perfect weather. The only annoyance being the unwanted dinner guests for Ruth Hesselyn and Mike Drake (scribe).
13 December 2008 Neudorf / Dovedale Valleys, bike ride. Cancelled. Lack of support. Organiser: Mark Stevens 

14 Dec. 2008 Pearse Resurgence Organiser: Gretchen Williams 

Twelve people started the walk at 9.00am. The weather was ideal, sunshine darting in and out of cloud cover all day. The twelve river crossings were negotiated well and sightings of blue duck whet our appetites for more. The group arrived at the source of the river for lunch, which was a very leisurely affair. Everyone was delighted with their surroundings. A family of Whio was discovered downstream on our return journey. I am sure someone will have the Club competition winning photograph, as the family posed for the numerous cameras. We were back to the cars by just after 3.00pm after a very enjoyable tramp. Most had never been this way before and enthusiasm for the day was obvious. The water babies being: Sandra Lawn, Dion Pont (bird spotter extraordinaire), Ray Caird, Mary Honey, Mike & Sue Locke, Mark Graesser, Jane Dewar, Brenda Griffin, Dick Battersby, Yvonne Kyle (scribe) and visitor Pam Satherley.

21 December 2008. Rameka Track Cancelled. Weather Organiser: Ross Price