Trip Reports, June-August 2016

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  1. Wangapeka Track | East-bound group | Kahurangi NP
  2. Gordons Knob | Mt Richmond FP
  3. Spooners Tunnel Cycle | Nelson
  4. Beebys Knob | Mt Richmond FP
  5. Foleys Track & Magdelan Hut | Lewis Pass National Reserve
  6. Dun Mountain & Little Twin | Mt Richmond FP
  7. D'Urville Island sail | Marlborough Sounds
  8. Angelus Peak by moonlight | Nelson Lakes NP
  9. Angelus Peak via Robert Ridge | Nelson Lakes NP
  10. Wooded Peak | Nelson

3–6 June 2016 | Wangapeka Track | East-bound | Kahurangi N Park
Leader: Mike Drake

Early in the year, Pat floated the idea of putting some foot traffic along the Wangapeka Track. I said “yes, it sounds like a good idea”.
So, when Queen’s Birthday approached, the thought of valley-walking for four days became less appealing. When asked who would be leading the west-east group, I was volunteered.

While crowd sourcing for developing products may work, crowd sourcing for a trip report didn’t. So, here I find myself data-mining my memory for details of a trip way back in June.

I joined the trip at Kohatu. All 19 people met here, some fleetingly, others waiting a little longer. Then we were away. While Pat’s east-west party (EWP) headed to Rolling River, we, the WEP, headed for a coffee in Murchison. Our timing was perfect – muffins were about to be taken from the oven ... a good start to the trip.

Further coffee stops were planned but at Westport, our caffeine levels were still good. Granity wasn’t an option, as it had turned into a ghost town.

We followed the windy road and decided the sunny spot at the road junction provided a good lunch stop. This was one of the themes for the trip: searching for the sun.

At the roadend, we met the local Irish man with a reputation for ready advice. Soon we were off. After about three hours  along the side of the Little Wanganui River, we reached Bell Town Manunui Hut.

On Day Two, we rendezvoused with the sunshine at the new bivouac before ascending to Little Wanganui Saddle. The biv was a great spot and the saddle was a good place to linger a little and have a brewup.

It was then down into the shade again, past Stag Flat Shelter and finally Taipo Hut. With at least 19 people expected at the hut, three of us searched for a tent site. Next task was a plunge in the river, Dave getting there before me; he has become a convert to cold water plunges.

It was then into the hut to thaw out and enjoy the fire’s heat. We had arrived in daylight and were not surprised to be the first party there. Our journey was 9km compared to the 18km for the other party. An advance party of the EWPs arrived and a few of us went to check the remaining members, after around 20 minutes down the track we found them all. It was quite pleasant moving along without a heavy pack impeding one’s progress. In short time we were back at the hut with hot drinks in our hands and dinner underway.

During the evening, Ruth suggested that Biggs Tops would be the way to go. It was agreed that a normal start would be made, expecting that we would be finishing in the dark. So, it was off to bed ready for a long day tomorrow.

Day Three found our party split into two groups; one group followed the standard route, the other split off on the east side of Mt Dean and headed for Trevor Carter Hut. A leisurely lunch then a steep climb up towards Biggs Tops. The wet bush was amply sufficient to wipe the sweat from our brows

The track climbs 700m and then into the sun again. A brief break and then a pleasant walk around the tops followed by a gentle slope down to Wangapeka Saddle. A short time later the torch lights were on as we approached Stone Hut. The place was covered in hoar frost, into which we pitched our three person tent. Once sorted, it was into the refreshments by the fire – a stark contrast to the frosty conditions outside.

Day Four was a stroll down to Cecil Kings Hut, bathed in sunlight. Someone made a good decision to stop here rather than risk freezing at Kings Hut. We decided a nice leisurely lunch was in order to take on board some more Vitamin D and have a brewup.

Then it was on to Rolling River, past the dam which had shrunk somewhat from it’s original 900m length. At Rolling River our transport needs were amply resolved when Heather kindly met us with the truck.

In conclusion, a big thank you goes to Pat for organising this invasion of the Wangapeka Trackany thanks to my fellow WEP’ers; Dion Pont, Graeme Ferrier, Kate Krawcyzk, Sue Henley Lurch, Dave Quested, Ruth Gray, Dana Clark, Celine Dufour, Ian Phillips, & Mike Drake (scribe).

NO PLACE FOR A ROAD | by Mike Drake

A road through the Wangapeka? Don’t think so.
As much chance as Kiwis (birds) have of flying.Sorry West Coasters.
But read on...

The Wangapeka Track was more interesting than I was expecting. With good company, good huts, no sandflies, no other people (except two in Stone Hut) and crisp river plunges it is a good choice for a winter trip. The sun, when found, is truly appreciated.

Now, how do we get tourists to savour these non-trendy tramps? As Dave and I walked up Moss Pass earlier in the year, we discussed how to keep the DOC bean-counters from focusing on low-occupancy tracks and huts. We need to have some way to spread the load across all the DOC infrastructure, rather than try and build ever larger huts in the front country to accommodate the growing hoards of tourists. We need tokeep our huts and tracks away from the attention of the bean-counters.

After suggesting portable saunas and coffee machines (at the smaller huts) we decided on a scoring system phone app. Each hut would attract points, so it would be like an Orienteering Course. Everyone has a smartphone - the inbuilt GPS could record the hut visit. Once back in internet range, the app would upload your earned points into a league table. (Further into the year, what do we have? Pokémon Go – a very similar idea. Was someone reading our thoughts?)

This backcountry app would be called New Zealand Go, as we wouldn’t want to restrict this to only DOC huts. We could nudge tourists into out-of-the-way places nationwide. Remote destinations off the beaten track would earn ‘Kakapo’ points. Easy places like Abel Tasman would earn ‘Weka’ points. Get the idea?

There would be a few safety details to sort out. Front country visitors need to be watched. Safety is a real issue, but hey! – introduce an insurance levy and provide better information. If people have to be rescued, then they attract penalty points.

Enough. But should NTC take a patent out now?


5 June 2016 | Gordon’s Knob | Mt Richmond Forest Park
Leader: Bob Renshaw

Ten of us arrived at Inwood’s Lookout on a cold, crisp and cloudless day with light wind. We wound our way up through the trees and out onto the open ridge and could see the odd patch of snow high up on Gordon’s Knob. As we climbed higher, we were greeted with great views across to Mt Owen and Mt Arthur Ranges, both covered in snow.

Morning tea was had at the start of the traverse across to the saddle beneath Gordons Knob, where we sat and enjoyed sublime views.

On obtaining the saddle, we started the final summit climb. At this point, the wind started to pick up and the temperature started to fall. By the time we reached the summit, the wind was quite strong and bitterly cold. Sitting on the sheltered side of the summit, we stopped for lunch and enjoyed 360-degree views. Lunch was short due to the drop in temperature. We started the descent, arriving at the cars after about six hours’ tramping. It was a great day out, enjoyed by all.

On the trip were Bob Renshaw (scribe) Bruce Alley, Chris Louth, Sue Martin, Ken Ridley, Christine Hoy, Ian Morris, with newcomers Mike Crehan, Anja Cholz and Grant Derecourt.


3 July 2016 | Spooners Tunnel | Nelson
Leader: Lawrie Halkett

The group all met at the Belgrove Hotel mid-Sunday morning, replete in warm gear and sporting headlamps. Off we went! It proved to be a steady uphill peddle, 6kms to the tunnel entrance. Then a very cool 1,352-metre ride through the tunnel. I won’t name any names, but the odd rider or two forgot to take off their sunnies as they entered the tunnel... suddenly discovering that the interior was darker than pitch black!

We all emerged half a click beyond the exit, found a sunny place to dismount, and enjoyed a leisurely sandwich with a few yarns.

A suggestion was made that the Club does a car-supported bike ride through the Rainbow and Molesworth regions during the third week of January 2017. (Duration: three nights / four days riding). Keep an eye out for this on the Club programme.

With lunch despatched, we mounted our trusty steeds, descending downhill on a rapid ride back to Belgrove. Ian, Kelvin, Ken and Chris delayed joining the rest of the mob for coffee and cake at the Pub, and took a run up Pretty Bridge Road. They were eventually halted by the ubiquitous forestry gate! Overall, it was a good day.

Participants were Cathy Smith, Carol and Rod Lewis, Chris Louth,  Ian Morris, Ken Ridley, Kelvin Drew, Kaye and Lawrie Halkett (scribe) and visitor Sue Marren.


10 July 2016 | Beebys Knob | Mt Richmond Forest Park
Leader: Sue Henley

After a previous postponement due to un-suitable weather a large group of us 13 in all, made our way to Top House Road and the entrance of the 4WD track which leads to Beebys Knob, before a quick and easy car shuttle to provide transport from the other end of the track on the Wairau side.

It was a cold, claggy but windy and exposed, with hoar frost falling from the trees as we went, layers of clothing quickly went on despite the climb.

About 1 hour from the start, we turned right on to a relatively new track called the Maitland Track. The shelter and protection of the beech forest quickly had us all warming up and we all stopped for refreshments. We continued along the track, mainly through pleasant beech forest with a few sunny open clearings, including beautiful views of the Wairau Valley and the St Arnaud Range; some of us definitely made the most of the photo opportunities.

Pressing on, by the time we reached Red Hills Hut we had all worked up a healthy appetite. After a long and leisurely lunch in the sun, photo shoots and a rescued cell phone, we made our way back down a rather unexciting, but pleasant, 4WD track back to the car. After another quick car shuttle, we headed home.

A very pleasant walk, not overly strenuous, of approximately six and a half hours on what turned out to be a warm and sunny winters day.

Participants were : Mike Drake, Kate Krawczyk, Ross Haverfield, Maria Haverfield, Sue Martin, Jacqui Bozoky, David Cook, Paul Henley, Cory Hope, Kazu Miyuki, Simon Hoyle & Sue Henley (scribe).


16–17 July 2016 | Foleys Track, Magdelen Hut | Lewis Pass
Leader: Mike Drake

What was an ambitious weekend trip in good conditions, became ‘Mission Impossible’ after heavy snowfall shortly before the trip.

However, we had options. So, on Saturday morning we left NZDA’s Palmer Lodge and headed up the road. We left a car at the north end of the St James Walkway. We then headed up Foleys Track towards Travers Peak. The bitter wind and deep snow quickly reduced our options to one: climb  up Travers Peak and head back into the comfort of the bush. The predicted clearing weather didn’t happen and showed no sign of doing so. So, it was  back to Palmer Lodge for lunch.

Our first option for a night venue was Nina Hut. However, a glance at the number of people in the intentions book soon had us searching for alternative accommodation. Up the Boyle River, Magdalen Hut was the nominated venue. Ruth and Jonathan from the Christchurch Tramping Club were our guides in this area.

With head torches within handy reach, we headed up the Boyle River, with clear skies now appearing a little late. Well, on we went, enjoying the peace of the evening in the setting sun. Then, it was ‘head torches on’ and as we trekked into the night.

After three-and-a-bit hours we spotted our accommodation. Magdalen Hut is a six-bunk DOC design. Sean Jameson was in residence with a roaring fire and, I think, glad of some company. He talked and talked – a very interesting character. He was here until the end of July working on the horse track.

The toilet here was not the usual Tardis (round fibre glass box), but a proper four-by-two privy. What’s more, the door faced away from the hut so that views can be enjoyed.

On Sunday we returned to the NZDA hut to collect our gear. Although the original goal was not achieved, it was a good weekend.

Upon my return, I phoned DOC Rangiora to give them positive feedback on Magdalen Hut. DOC now have standard templates for hut design, so each new hut is not a one-off.

The ranger suggested I send an email to Lou Sanson, Director General of DOC. This I did and received a very positive reply. Feedback, positive and negative, is a good way for organisations to understand how their systems relate to people.

Participants were Ruth Gray, Jonathan Carr, Sue Lindauer, Steve McGlone & Mike Drake (scribe).

30 July 2016 | Dun Mountain & Little Twin | Bryant Range | Mt Richmond Forest Park
Leader: Dan McGuire

Eleven fit trampers started early for an assault on Dun Mountain and Little Twin, despite the inclement weather.  The rain cleared just in time for the early start, but it was very cold.  As we approached Dun Saddle, there was plenty of snow and ice.  The higher we climbed, the fiercer and colder the wind blew. The discomfort was compensated by the magic, ice and crystal-covered rocks and bush.  It was decided to have lunch at the Dun Mountian Shelter in order to get out of the fierce wind. Leah made herself a sure club member by passing around her home-baked Rocky Road, which was excellent. Afterwards, we continued through the snow to Little Twin, then down to Dew Lakes through rain-created mush. Once out of the wind, we stopped in the sun for afternoon tea. Everyone arrived down at the dam tired, but pleased.

Participants: Dan McGuire (scribe), Leah Parker, Kelvin Drew, Grant Derecourt,  Scott Stocker, Stuart Hilton, Jacqui Bozoky, Michelle Cunningham, Peter Phipps, Bob Renshaw , Kate Krawczyk & Ian Morris.

August 2016 | D’Urville Island circumnavigation | Skipper: Brian Renwick

Want no sandflies, no people, and fresh fish? An August sail around D’Urville Island may just be the thing for you.

On Sunday morning, an email from Brian arrived spurring me into action. We were to leave Monday morning from Tarakohe Marina.

We motored most of the way, aiming for Ragged Point at the entrance to Greville Harbour. We cleared Boulder Spit Point in twilight. Our mooring was to be about half way up Mill Arm. With me at the helm and Brian’s advice, we slowly passed spurs disappearing into the sea. Mooring buoys were just discernible and by torchlight Brian took the helm and I landed the mooring line.

Next morning, we motored further up the arm into the sun; one of the advantages of having an easily moveable camp. After breakfast, we moved to the DOC campground and rowed ashore to take water on board. We then headed back out to fish for dinner. Our blue cod limit was reached in 30 minutes; the fish must have been queuing to take the bait. After catching four cod I still had the original bait!

Our passage through French Pass would have to wait until the following day to catch the right tide. We moored in Ponganui Bay, which was crowded tonight, with only one of three houses occupied. With Brian in the galley, fish dinners quickly issued forth.

At 07:00 we were underway. With a slight ebb tide we gracefully squeezed through French Pass.

Once clear of danger, I took the helm while coffee and omelet was served for breakfast. Today, we motored and sailed up the east coast, meandering around rocks and through Stephens Passage, heading for Port Hardy.

It was fun watching our progress around rocks and through islets, offering the occasional tweaks with assistance of Memory Map on my phone. We headed down the southernmost tip of the South Arm of Port Hardy and found some more mooring buoys. As we moored, some seagulls put up a bit of a noise at our intrusion. But they quickly realised we’re here for the night. A shower was followed by beers on deck, as we watched the sundown. Fish again tonight. Life can be tedious!

Another 07:00 start. The plan today was to head back to Greville Harbour. However, with my moonlight Angelus trip starting on Friday and weather too bumpy to anchor close to the harbour mouth we decided to head back to Tarakohe. However, before we left we had a successful ‘hat overboard’ recovery; the result of a gust of wind. We then turned to starboard and headed for Separation Point in Golden Bay. At some distance from the point a dolphin was spotted, then another and another. Dolphins were seen racing from Separation Point, desperate to join the party. The dying sun, six dolphins in front of the bow with other dolphins breaking water around the boat, in twos and sometimes threes, made for a magic experience.

As we lost the sun over the bow, the moon quickly ascended from the stern. With me at the helm we cleared Motu Island, then Tata Island. Tarakohe Marina lights were clearly visible. Onced moored, we savoured a mandatory mug of tea before heading back to another paradise. Takaka Hill and the Motueka Valley were quickly traversed while we ‘sang’ along to Bread and Pink Floyd... a great ending to a very enjoyable four days.

Crew: Captain Brian Renwick, and ‘First Mate’ Mike Drake (scribe).

19–20 August 2016 | Angelus Peak by Moonlight | Nelson Lakes National Park | Leader: Mike Drake

After sailing around D’Urville Island, what’s better than a moonlit walk into Angelus Hut? During my trip around D’Urville the numbers for this trip had reached a possible six, then reduced to two (flu season). Approaching Top House, the moonlit night was looking doubtful as low cloud hugged Robert Ridge. From the beach at St Arnaud and decided to give ourselves turn-back options; one was to stay over at Bushline Hut.

At the Bushline Hut turnoff, we decided to continue. The sky appeared to be clearing, but the moon was always visible. A stop at Relax Shelter saw us changing our wardrobes a number of times to match the conditions.

Visions of walking along the ridge with crampons squeaking in the hard snow were quickly dispelled. Fortunately, other people had passed our way so we capitalised on their hard work. Stops were made to eat, while Steve attempted to capture the mood by camera. There were no stops to apply sunscreen, no hot dazzling sun, just the moon and a slight breeze. After leaving Mt Robert carpark at 22:14, we arrived at Angelus Hut 6am (7 hours and 45 minutes.)

After hot drinks, we were in bed by 7am. We heard someone stomping around in the warden’s quarters. We later found out he was a little surprised to hear people arriving at 6am.

Around 11am we were both up. With breakfast out of the way, we slotted into a hut day. Steve, however, felt the yearning of the peaks and decided to climb Cedric. Between cups of tea and reading, I boiled water for a steady stream of arrivals.

A number of cycles of reading and tea drinking. Making myself comfortable in front of the fire was a non-trivial task in the new Angelus Hut, but it was time to check on Brian’s party. Shortly before I intended heading out, four people were seen on the skyline.  They had made good time, despite Brian teaching them snow skills along the way. They were the fourth party in the hut, making a total of twelve. At 06am, we decided that conditions were not ideal for a summit attempt, so we retraced our route along the ridge for further snow skills training. Mt Robert carpark was reached by later afternoon. Hot drinks and cakes at the Alpine Lodge ended a very pleasant weekend.

The Moonlighters were Steve McGlone and Mike Drake (scribe).

20–21 August 2016 | Angelus Hut via Robert Ridge | Nelson Lakes National Park | Leader: Brian Renwick

Well, I would say it is a minor miracle this trip flew. It was an on again, off again sort of affair in the week leading up to it but there was a flurry of last minute conversations, preparations and gear collection. In the end, four of us eagerly set off from Mount Robert car-park about 9am on Saturday morning. For three of us, this was our first foray into the world of winter tramping with an ice axe and crampons. We were excited and a bit nervous, but under Brian’s experienced leadership we got along fine.

The track heads straight into the steady climb up Pinchgut track (many of you will know it well).

With the over-supply of food I was carrying and trying to keep up with Brian and Tom’s long stride this time was no exception! But we gained the ridge none the less and enjoyed a break and a munch at Relax Shelter.

The cloud hung low over the tops for most of the day as we made our way along Robert Ridge, but it never dropped low enough for white-out conditions. Patches of sun came and went, beautifully highlighting various ridges and peaks. The wind, though cold, wasn’t strong. The snow was soft and crampons were unnecessary on our way to the hut. However I was thankful for my ice axe on the traverses.

We kept a pretty slow pace along the tops due to cramping muscles and some of us being new to these snowy conditions. Brian was super patient and encouraging and it’s a credit to him that we all made it to Angelus Hut. In all it took us about seven-and-a-half hours.

On reaching the hut we were greeted enthusiastically by Mike and Steve who, in spite of having had about two hours’ sleep after their moonlit walk along the ridge the night before, were looking cheerful and bouncy. In true club style they had hot water waiting for us and we enjoyed a welcome cuppa. At the hut Mike’s ingenuity was on display in the form of a table upended and tied to a bench seat to make a back rest. It was quite effective and rather tickled my fancy!

The evening passed all too quickly with shared snacks, discussions over maps, dinner and chats around the fire. After a freezing cold dash outside to the loo and to top up water bottles from the partially frozen water tank, we headed off to bed reasonably early. It wasn’t long before I was sound asleep even amongst a full orchestra of snorers.

We woke early to claggy tops, then rolled over and enjoyed another hour of rest. By the time we got up the cloud was full of beautiful sunrise colours and the tops were clearing a little.

We were treated to some gorgeous views as we climbed away from the hut and back to the ridge. On our walk out we also had the pleasure of Steve and Mike’s company – top blokes, those two!

As we reached Robert Ridge proper, we stopped for a while to practise self arrests and techniques for walking on steep slopes in crampons. Both the newbies and the old hands had a good few practise runs. It was helpful to get feedback from those with experience and I appreciated being with people who have such a wealth of knowledge and skill.

Later in the day we stopped for lunch over looking Third Basin. Steve dug us a salubrious bench seat in the lee of a knoll and we all agreed it was an excellent lunch spot. We were treated to some of Mike’s homemade muesli bars – yum! But it wasn’t a place to linger; even tucked away out of the wind we quickly grew cold.

Although it clagged in, the rest of the ridge passed pleasantly with good conversation. Before we knew it, we were on the Pinchgut Track again heading through the bush. Brian and Tom raced down, testing themselves on the snowy track while the rest of us followed at a more sedate pace.

We celebrated an excellent trip with hot drinks and slice at the Alpine Lodge cafe in St Arnaud before we parted company for home.

Trip Members: Brian Renwick, Emily Wallace, Tom Otjens & Katie Gray (scribe).

14 August 2106 | Wooded Peak | Nelson
Leader: Dan McGuire

Three ambitious trampers arrived early for an assault on Wooded Peak.  We took the Caves Track but branched off near the caves. We headed off-track toward a ridge going up the steep side of Wooded Peak.  After a long period of bush bashing, we came to an open area of limestone rock where we sat in the sun to have a leisurely lunch. We then headed up the steepest part of the ridge.

When we arrived near the top, we headed to the nearest outlook to photograph the Richmond Ranges covered in snow. We could even see part of the Inland Kaikoura Ranges. 

The descent was tricky and slippery due to the heavy rain the previous day. Then we had to climb to Sunrise Ridge again. At the end of a long day we got back to the dam and headed home.

Participants: Dan McGuire (scribe), Grant Derecourt (visitor), and Tom Otjens (visitor from Holland). 

28 August 2016 | Ben Nevis | Mt Richmond Forest Park
Leader: Dan McGuire

Four ambitious trampers started early after an ‘intrepid journey’ in Kelvin’s vehicle. (The leader suggested  a wrong turn and we ended up on a horrendous forestry road.) After scrambling over logs and finding our way through the forestry, we found the Ben Nevis track.

As we climbed higher the views got better, but so did the icy wind get stronger. As we neared the summit, the snow was quite deep and visibility very poor. We made a speedy descent, but with lots of camera stops. The tops were loaded with snow and we could see the Inland Kaikouras.

Participants were Dan McGuire (leader), Kelvin Drew (navigator) with visitors Tom Otjens from Holland and Lisa Blenk from Germany.


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