Trip Reports, February 2009

19-22 December
2008 Diamond Lake Cobb Valley
Organiser: Ruth Hesselyn
Rearranged because of weather to 21-23 Dec 2008 – three parties

The pre-Christmas Cobb trip was not exempt from the “best laid plans… ” Deep down none of us like tramping in the rain – though some of us have to dig deeper than others. Ruth gallantly organised and reorganised and we ended up as three parties starting two days later than intended. We had the fit three day trip (F3s) going from Sylvester Hut over to Fenella, the medium three day trip (M3s) and the medium two day trip (M2s) staying in the Diamond Lake area.

An unforecast wiggle in the isobars produced a day of light rain for our start on Sunday, but we were off regardless, all aware of a cosy Sylvester Hut en route, where we could, and did, cop out. David had the M2s away from Nelson at 6:30am, the only point of which seemed to be so they could have the fire going, providing a warm hut and hot water when the rest of us arrived. And it was appreciated. At 8:30am as David drove into the Cobb Road, he was breath tested – thou shalt not enter into thine hills in an intoxicated state!

After Ruth’s excellent Christmas cake for afternoon tea and continuing rain outside, the need to head to Diamond Lake and camp evaporated. A sociable night was spent with festive goodies before dinner, a demo of how (but not why) to erect a tent inside a hut by Peter, and a discourse on what can be purchased at the $2 Shop by David. The fashion of the day was Oringi parkas with three examples of the same type, five years plus out of date being modelled. The joy of being among like minded mates. Umbrellas came a close second.

Monday, fine, saw us up at 5:30am and off at 7.00am, keeping in a group along the route across Iron Stream, around Lake Lillie until above Diamond Lake. Then we parted each to his own…..

The F3 party had a lot of ground to cover before its intended destination – Fenella Hut, would be reached. Well it never happened! After several hours of traversing and travelling along the open ridge toward Mt Benson (an ideal lunch spot), Ruby Lake ’ s serenity seduced at least one party member. And with no debate at all the party was soon sitting beside Ruby Lake. Our arduous morning was rewarded with a lazy afternoon of eating (Christmas cake), reading, sleeping, monitoring Peter and Margot’s (they didn’t realise it was us) progress at the other end of the lake and then their return back along the ridge toward Diamond Lake and watching Dion reconstruct a respectable fireplace that was shamefully never used.

An early Tuesday morning dawned a ‘beauty’ but frosty and by mid morning Mt Benson was far behind us. The track toward Waingaro Peak followed a broad, open ridge, inter-dispersed with sidles around gnarly rock edifices and a short bash through Dracophylum Forest. Perfectly clear weather gave way to great views across to Camp and Cobb Lake and Xenicus Peak but by midday the shade of Fenella Hut was a welcome lunch stop.

More Christmas cake and chocolate Santas recharged a few flagging batteries, for the final stretch. The valley from Fenella to Trilobite Hut was a halo of yellow that could not finish soon enough for some, while others had the novelty of ticking off five huts in one afternoon, the icing for an excellent trip.

Meanwhile the M3s and M2s dropped down through the bush to the top end of Diamond Lake and then parted company. T he M3s found a nice clearing for Peter to give a demo of how to erect a tent under slightly more realistic conditions. Then off we went to seize the afternoon, taking in Mt Lockett and then on to see Ruby Lake. We spied some campers over the other side of the lake and gave them a wave while wondering who they were and why they were not out walking on such a fine afternoon. Tuesday, to get back to Sylvester we ascended Iron Hill and followed its ridge south. What a great ridge – not at all boring, but not too hard. Finally the ridge tired of us before we of it. And it gently lowered us down to Little Sylvester Lake. The alpine flowers were out, with the mountain flax stealing the show as they budded up not to be outdone this season by their lowland cousins in the “year of the flax flowering”. Lunch at the hut then back to civilization and the chaotic but courteous traffic in Motueka, and a bit of last minute pre-Christmas provisioning.

Meanwhile the M2s continued on around the south edge of the Diamond Lake to the other end. This was a mistake as we should have gone around the other side where the going through the bush is much easier. We had a welcome morning tea stop in the sun where the stream leaves the lake. Here there is a good dry camping site big enough for six or seven tents. The return trip was made with a lunch stop beside the stream from Lake Lillie which Mary and I made the short climb up to. Mary displayed her toughness by having a thirty second swim in the chilly water but after getting back to Sylvester Hut about two hours later she discovered that her watch was missing. It was left just where the stream leaves the lake and she would be grateful to anyone who is able to retrieve it if they are passing through that way.

It took only an hour to get back to the car from the hut and the drive back out down the Cobb Valley Road was uneventful with no further stoppage by the police for a breath test.

F3 members: Dion Pont, Carole Crocker, Marguerite Verheul (scribe), Mike Drake and Ruth Hesselyn, (Christmas cake and chocolate Santa’s Santa).

M3 members: Peter and Margot (co-ordinating scribe) Syms.

M2 members: David Blunt (scribe), Mary Honey, and visitor Hilde Somerville.

10-11January 2009
Severn River
Organiser: Dion Pont

A great weekend was had by Alison Nicoll [Scribe], Christine Hoy and Dion Pont. Perfect weather for this tramp, which we had expected to be extra hot but we had cloud and some cool wind from the south on the way through the Waimea Stream Valley and into the Severn River Valley. There is no marked track through here so the choice is to follow the rivers or the cattle tracks. The Tarndale area in the back of the Molesworth is the location and the vastness and isolation of the area impressed as we became surrounded by the many mountains, with their eroded sides and many screes. The area has many lakes which can be fished and also many boggy areas where careful footwork is needed. There are also several river crossings necessary. The six bed hut is about five hours tramping from the car park and is a fully insulated and therefore warm hut even though all the heating is passive. Day two turned out bright and sunny for the return tramp. At this time of the year the river is patrolled constantly by black fronted terns, which nest on the river gravel. On the way out Dion spied an empty eggshell and a still damp chick nearby. We hastened away to let the birds return. A bit further on Dion was seen to be attacking a Matagouri bush with his walking pole – a ferret was within but could not be flushed out. We also saw three olive green skinks warming up on a north facing bank. These were all reported to DoC. A very enjoyable tramp through the remote back country – the hut would make a great base for further exploration of the area.


17 January 2009
Culliford Hill
Organiser: Margot Syms

The Club made an attempt on Culliford Hill last year, reaching nearly 1600m in deteriorating weather, short of time and for some of us, energy. The week before this planned second attempt, Margot was recovering in hospital from an operation on ankle and knee following an unfortunate fall near The Twins. Despite this, she was eager for the trip to go and to pass on route details from another reconnaissance. Early in the week before the planned trip, a large high passed across the country. Too good to last, and sure enough Metvuw was indicating a broad trough across the country for the weekend. Then David suggested: “why not go on Friday.” Nine of us set out from Courthouse Flat at 7.30am and from the Blue Creek Resurgence at a bit over 400m, the Alpine Club Track climbs steeply through bush, reaching the main ridge at just over 800m. The stream passed at 600m still had some water despite the lack of recent rain. Most of the party were at or near the summit (1765m) at 1.30pm with good views all round and cloud banks on the mountains on the western horizon. We decided to return via the Nuggety Track which wasn’t in hindsight a great idea as the extra distance meant we didn’t get back to the cars until 7.00pm.

Participants were: Tom Brown, David Blunt, Pat Holland and visitors Colin Garnett, Carol Hulse, Marak, Morton and Stegner Kerse.

25 January 2009
Whispering Falls
Organiser: Alison Nicoll

Gretchen Williams, Brenda Griffin, Sandra Lawn, David Blunt, Sue and Mike Locke, David and Alison Nicoll [Scribe] and visitors Rose Porter and Pam Satherley, enjoyed a perfect day on the Hacket Track. We left Richmond at 8.30am and this meant we were at Whispering Falls for morning tea. How the falls have changed over the years. David Blunt remembering them from 1968! The water is a lot less and many of the limestone cornices have fallen. However it is still a lovely spot and at the top a great view and a tramp through some very pretty bush. With time to spare it was decided to take a diversion up to the Chromite Mines and although this is about a thirty minute climb it was very hot on the bare face with the reflection off the rocks. Descent being much quicker we took a dip in the river there to cool off. Some took another swim at the Hacket picnic spot where many people were enjoying the big swimming hole there. Home by 3.00pm!

31 January- 4 February 2009
Amuri & Hope Passes
Cancelled. Organiser: Dion Pont

1 February 2009
Third House
Organiser: Gillian Arbuthnott

Starting at OK Corral, a quick huff and puff up the very dry clay track brought us to the welcome shade of the pine forest, quite musical today because of the wind. Whilst walking through the pine forest of the Dun Mountain railway track, transport yourself back into another era and you can’t help but admire the tenacity and sheer physical strength of the men and beasts of burden who made it so easy for trampers and mountain bikers alike; our only determined physical effort for the day was to clamber over two large pines which were lying horizontal across the track. After morning tea at “the table” and the pleasure of the panoramic views across Nelson and Tasman Bay, the devastating effects of last Winter’s storm became painfully obvious as spread-eagled against the hillsides are great swathes of bush and trees, lying comatose like Napoleon’s army in the aftermath of the Battle of Waterloo; add to this the scenario of a lunar landscape due to the odd rock and landslide. However the song of tuis and bellbirds puts everything into perspective and then hey presto, the pony meadow at Third House appeared. Three people opted to return to the cars immediately after lunch but the remainder of the party finished eating in the shade of the beech forest, whilst delighting in the antics of a New Zealand Robin. On the return journey we were required to duck under a new windfall shortly after leaving Third House, were entertained by the antics of a quartet of fantails flitting and darting through the bush and a cicada on the track had transformed itself into a whirling dervish, complete with cicada “music”. Whew! What an exhibition on such a hot day as well.

Thank you for your companionship: Gillian Arbuthnott, Robyn Walsh, Sue and Mike Locke and visitors Gail Malinosky, Lindsay Twiname and Ron Mailer.

6-7 February 2009
Brown Hill
Cancelled. Insufficient interest. Organiser: Mark Graesser

8 February 2009
Trig K, Pelorus
Organiser: Ross Price

Six stalwart members arrived at Church Steps and set out for Pelorus. We set out for the Trig in very hot weather. After a brief stop on the top in blistering sun, with expansive views of the valleys and back towards Nelson, we descended to the waterfall for lunch. Arriving back at the car early afternoon, there was plenty of time for swims in the river, which was unusually temperate.

Participants: Ross Price, Jim Maxwell, Beverley Muirhead, Jane Dewar, Dan McGuire (scribe) and visitor Pam Satherly

21-22 February 2009
Little Rintoul
Cancelled. Organiser: Dan McGuire