Trip Reports, October-December 2014

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  1. Canaan Downs > Abel Tasman NP
  2. Ellis Basin Hut > Nelson > Kahurangi NP
  3. Brook Waimarama Sanctuary > Nelson
  4. 1000 Acre Plateau > Kahurangi NP
  5. Ben Nevis > Mt Richmond FP
  6. Mt Richmond > Mt Richmond FP

5 October 2014 –Canaan Downs to Bird’s Clearing via Wainui River – Abel Tasman National Park
Leader: Ross Price

The day broke fine and sunny, and the hills were liberally plastered
with fresh snow from the day before. The drive in was accomplished relatively easily due to the volume of traffic and sunshine having cleared snow off the access road.

We were soon under way, climbing steadily up the gentle gradient to Wainui Saddle, and a short descent took us to the Wainui Hut, complete with nearby aviary for the re-introduction of kaka and kakariki as part of Project Janszoon. This trip was largely in the bush, however good views were found from Wainui Saddle. The opportunity to descend further down Bird’s Clearing for better views was passed up in favour of an earlier return, while we had lunch there. We did have views across to D’Urville Island and Cape Farewell, and of the coastline and hinterland of Wainui Bay, which was a just reward for our efforts.

Participants: Ian & Marilyn Morris, Brian Renwick

11–12 October 2014  Ellis Basin Hut – Kahurangi NP
Leader: Dion Pont

We started out early on the Saturday morning to give ourselves extra time if the snow conditions were difficult on the way to Ellis Basin. We arrived at Flora car park around 8:30 to find a police car blocking the way to the main parking area. It turned out that the recovery and investigation for the recent helicopter crash was underway and the police investigators were waiting for a helicopter from the Air Force to arrive. A few Keas also welcomed us to the car park with their cheeky antics – hopping around on innocent victim’s vehicles and playing with our gear as we got ready to start off. Dion smartly removed the soft cover on the back of his ute in anticipation of two days of Kea curiosity.

Off we went up and away to the saddle between Winter Peak and Mt. Arthur. It was a beautiful day with almost no wind. We turned left and crossed over Winter Peak into the hanging valley above Ellis Basin. The snow was firm but not firm enough for crampons so we made our way down through the snow and then hit the real obstacle to reaching the hut – the descent. Now I’ve heard that the walk up the valley to Ellis Basin Hut is a real ordeal and that the ‘easy’ way is the way we were going over the tops – but when we reached the final descent to the basin it was 600 metres straight down on a slippery nasty sidle with a very rough and almost non-existent track and plenty of spear grass / Spaniards to ‘cushion’ our falls. We were very happy to reach the valley floor and got to the hut around 2:30 in the afternoon dreading climbing back up what we just came down the next day (I speak for Chris and myself – I don’t think anything phases Dion!).

Ellis Basin hut is a very lovely little old forestry hut in a beautiful setting and being so hard to get to it is not busy at all – the last trampers through had been there in August.

So the next day we had to get out somehow and the truck was at Flora car park – Chris and I did tease Dion and told him to pick us up at the bottom of Ellis Valley on the Baton Road but in the end we sucked it up and got on with it. I must say its one of the most scary and exposed climbs I have done. I had to engage my ‘four-wheel drive’ grasping onto tussocks to pull myself up the over 45-degree slope. The heavy overnight pack on my back certainly wasn’t welcome. The conditions didn’t help with patchy snow that had hardened overnight making it quite technical. There wasn’t enough snow for crampons until we reached the hanging valley and then it was beautiful clear sailing up and over Winter Peak back to Flora car park.

Climbers were: Kate Krawczyk (scribe), Chris Louth & Dion Pont.

18 October 2014 – The Brook Sanctuary – Nelson
Leader: Elizabeth Dooley

Three of us met at the Waimarama Sanctuary and walked up the Koro track, joining the stream at Ferny Flats and turning back onto “East D” track just short of Carters Creek. The track is lovely, especially along the stream, with the sound of water mingling with birdsong. The Rangiora is beginning to flower and there were Fuschia, Clematis and some orchids to be found.

We turned down Jacobs Ladder to return to the stream and walked out via the dam, going back into the Visitors Centre to look at the interesting displays available there.  We walked for about three and a half hours, but it would be easy to spend a day there criss-crossing the tracks without ever leaving the Sanctuary.

Walkers: Elizabeth Dooley, Jane Russell & Sue Matthews.

7–9 November 2014 – 1000 Acre Plateau – Kahurangi NP
Leader: Chris Louth

With the promise of three days of sunshine and light winds, eight of us left the cars on the Matiri Valley road and headed upstream.

The West Branch Matiri was easily forded and an hour later we were at a deserted Lake Matiri Hut. The hut book indicated there was nobody else on the plateau.

After a regroup at the lookout, everyone found their own pace for the second steep climb up to the rim, then across the open red tussock to Poor Pete’s Hut.

It was now 4.30pm but, with hours of daylight left, half the party decided to push on across the waterlogged grasslands to Larrikin Creek while the others would spend the night at Poor Petes and follow early in the morning. This strategy ensured tents would not be needed and most would get a bunk.

At Larrikins Creek Hut, John surprised Kate by pulling two full-sizes pillows out of his gargantuan pack. Her comment was that it was a nice gesture but she’d rather have a bottle of whisky!

Around 9.30 the next morning the Poor Pete’s party arrived and most of us headed up into the spectacular vertical escarpments and across to the saddle between the Needle and the Haystack.

Conditions on the summit of the Needle were sublime. No wind, clear skies and 360 degree views encompassing the Mokihinui Valley and ocean to the west and the snowy peaks of Nelson Lakes to the east. The northern vista was dominated by the striated slopes and razor ridge of the Haystack, while to the south the Devil’s Dining Table (a.k.a. 100 Acre Plateau) was spread out just below us.

After a lazy half hour on the peak, we descended onto the top plateau. Five of the group had decided to return to Poor Petes for the second night to shorten the journey out the next day, so they dropped over the side of the plateau and headed back.

John, Kate and Chris headed across to the far edge of the plateau to check out the bump known as Mt Misery. From here you look straight down into the valleys of the Mokihinui catchment and part of the Old Ghost Road route from Goat Creek out to the ocean.

After returning to Larrikins we were greeted by a party of four from Christchurch. It was just as well most of our party had returned to Poor Pete’s because the Christchurch group weren’t carrying tents or sleeping mats and had decided to come up to a four-bunk hut knowing from the entry in the Lake Matiri Hut book that there were already eight people at Larrikins.

Kate and John pitched a tent and one of the other party decided to walk back to Lake Matiri at dusk  so we managed okay.

Our two groups reunited half way down the hill and we reached the cars by mid-afternoon.

A rare three days in an area that is so often inaccessible, wet or windy.

Lucky participants were Kate Krawczyk, John Whibley, Rod and Carole Lewis, Graeme Ferrier, Birgit Klingbein, Helen O’Kane (visitor) and Chris Louth, trip leader & scribe.

30 November 2014 – Ben Nevis – Mt Richmond FP
Leader: Andrea Cockerton 

Ben Nevis was the revised destination, bad weather scuppering plan
to head up Billies Knob. Summer, but not just yet. The track itself was easy to navigate, the access roads not so! A few confabs, consultation of GPS, one wrong turn and we arrived.  The road itself was in reasonable order, though 4WD recommended.

The track initially heads through forest along Gibbs Spur; it’s a little grunty to start but evens out as you break through the trees around 1000m, the summit itself standing at 1619m. There is some rock scrambling along the spur and delightful vistas across to the Richmond Ranges in the East. The weather held and we arrived at the summit in 2 1/4 hours, though not lingering too long in the cool breeze.  A scattering of fellow trampers were heading up, but by far the majority were the mountain bikers using the lower tracks and car shuttling up and down the road. It felt great to blow away some cobwebs and get out.

Fellow trampers were Sue, Kate, John, Chris, Bruce & Michael. Thanks for your company – Andrea (scribe).

6 Dec 2014 - Mt Richmond summit - Mt Richmond FP
Leader: Dan McGuire

Seven ambitious trampers showed up early on Dec. 6 for an assault on Mt. Richmond.  A late start meant a very fast pace, led by Lee Marshall.  With her cracking pace we were at the hut in record time.

After a short rest, we were off to the summit, but not before Calvin and Dan stopped to photograph some of the many penwipers that were in full bloom. After lunch on the summit, we sped down the mountain. It was a perfect day!

Participants: Nichola Harwood, Don Morrissey and son, Bruce Alley, Lee Marshall, Kelvin Drew, & Dan McGuire (leader)

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