Trip Reports, Dec-March 2017

barnicoat party










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  1. Flanagans Hut | Kahurangi NP
  2. Moss Pass | Nelson Lakes NP
  3. North Peak | Mt Richmond FP
  4. Gordons Pyramid | Kahurangi NP
  5. Parachute Rocks | Nelson Lakes NP
  6. Lake Angelus | Nelson Lakes NP
  7. Booths Cottage | Glenhope Scenic Reserve
  8. Coldwater Hut | Nelson Lakes NP
  9. Lees Creek Hut | Raglan Ranges
  10. Barnicoat Walkway | Nelson

17–18 December 2016 | Flanagans Hut | Kahurangi National Park
Leader: Ray Salisbury

Ian’s Suzuki Vitara rumbled to the end of Baton Valley Road. Wet boots were donned. At the main Baton Ford, we raced along grassy 4WD tracks on the true right.

Generator noise betrayed a gold mining operation and hidden campsite near the claim. We spotted the miners using a dredge in the river.

We also popped in to visit Puk’s Hideaway, an iron shanty near the riverside. No one home.

An historic swing bridge was crossed, after 1.5 hours on the go. Now on true right, we passed a trio of naked bathers, mid-river.

For a further hour, we followed the old gold miners pack track to a lovely lunch spot on a log; the summer sun blazing down.

Half an hour further, and we crossed Loveridge Stream, the prominent tributary. Then followed a double crossing of the Baton, where a septet of whio eyed us cautiously.

After yet another crossing, the pack track began to dissolve into a desperate ledge above the Baton, which tumbled over multiple drops some 30m below. A series of cables provided a modicum of comfort as a handrail along a tenuous section of the route (approx. 200m). We cautiously negotiated the slippery footings and dubious handholds.

After some four hours we crossed to the true left of the Baton, for the final push up to the hut, (which lasted a further two hours.)

While the old track reappeared and was gently angled, some of us were a spent force in the summer heat, so rested every few hundred metres.

Nevertheless, we enjoyed beautiful beech forest with late afternoon sun lighting up the highest ridges. After about seven hours, Arif sighted the eight-bunk hut. We had travelled 14km from the road end. The Motueka Tramping Club have done a decent job in maintaining this remote abode over the years.














I boiled the billy while others rested and began eating dinner. By 9pm we hit the pit. Outside, the southern sky was ablaze in starlight.

Sunday dawned clear, but blue skies were invaded with clusters of cumulous. We shot a party portrait and departed at 8:30am.

Our return along the Baton went without mishap. Patrons: Ray Salisbury (scribe), Ian Morris, Jeff & Arif Matthee.

  • 7 hrs tramp
  • 7 river crossings
  • 7 side streams forded
  • 7 blue ducks
  • 7 people on track (some clothed, some not)
    = a perfect weekend in the Hills

26–30 December 2016 | Moss Pass | Nelson Lakes National Park

Leader: Sue Henley

DAY 1 : our trip began on Boxing day morning with a quick car shuttle to avoid having our cars targeted by thieves while parked at Mt Robert car park for seven days.

The track to Speargrass Hut proved to be quite greasy underfoot due to the recent rain, with seven days worth of food, tents and equipment, the going was slower than usual.

We stopped at Speargrass Hut for a good break before carrying on toward Sabine Hut and Lake Rotoroa. The track heading towards Rotoroa is relatively easy for the first couple of hours before it again becomes like the rest of the track – rough and undulating with tree roots and minor creek crossings – before a long winding descent down to Sabine Hut.

We arrived at the hut to find it already about 3/4 full of people, many of the occupants having caught the boat in that day. Some of our party opted to set up their tents rather than spend the night in a busy hut with lots of kids who, I must say, were really pleasant and well behaved.

DAY 2 : After an unexpectedly good night’s sleep, we were up early to beat the forecast showers. Preparing to walk to West Sabine, we bid our farewells to one of our party who decided his knees were not up to the job. He decided to take the boat out instead.

The remainder of us carried on up the valley. At around half way, we started to meet lots of people returning down the track. We learned of a rather rowdy group of party-goers who had carried in their portable stereo, disturbed the peace and generally made a nuisance of themselves at the hut for a couple of days. Thankfully, we met this group on their way out, looking totally unprepared, one of them wearing a towel around him, others wearing sneakers and other unsuitable clothing.

Somewhere along the way, a couple of us also had an unwelcome encounter with some nasty’s of the flying kind. Unfortunately, they had a dislike to one particular member of our group throughout the whole trip. Luckily, we kept him dosed up on antihistamine and some Ibuprofen.

We arrived at West Sabine Hut. As we entered. we were rather puzzled by the two sets of gumboots sitting in the porch, wondering who they might belong to.

Some light rain set in shortly after we arrived. We sat in the hut enjoying some refreshments, while listening to the rather far-fetched and amusing theories of one particular occupant. After having heard enough of his anecdotes, some of us opted for a cold swim or wash in the river.

At some stage, over the next few hours, we learned that the gumboots belonged to the two Asian occupants who had worn them on the Travers-Sabine circuit. How they made it out in one piece beggars belief.

DAY 3: After another early start we headed towards Blue Lake. Along the way, we encountered a massive boulder which seemed to have landed beside the track very recently. There was fresh earth and damaged trees where it had landed, dislodged by earthquake perhaps? Scary stuff. 

After a steep climb we arrived at beautiful Blue Lake. Though the hut was half full, Kate and John listened to a tip by a fellow tramper and quickly set their tent up by the lake in the most idyllic camping spot you can imagine.

After some rest and refreshments, we said goodbye to another two of our party who decided not to tackle the steep climb to Moss pass with its knee-crunching descent over the other side.

The remaining four of us took a scenic side trip up to Lake Constance. It was wonderful not to be carrying a pack and the views were stunning. We returned to the hut, which was now full, but throughout the day more people trickled in until about 8pm. Some arrived in a sorry state from Caroline Bivvy after 12 hours, under-prepared and barely able to walk; others arrived without any food or adequate equipment. One of this group was also complaining of stomach pains and feeling ill.

DAY 4:
After another early start we began the grunt up to Moss Pass. It wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated and the views at the top were worth the climb. We found a spot out of the wind and stopped for a break before beginning the long knee-crunching descent down into the D’Urville Valley.

When we finally reached the bottom, we celebrated with a much-needed lunch stop by the river.

We reached George Lyon Hut much earlier than expected and so decided to carry on to Morgan Hut instead. The views along the D’Urville Valley were beautiful – and peaceful after Blue Lake. We had the really lovely Morgan Hut to ourselves. The location was stunning.

DAY 5: After another good night’s sleep we made our way towards D’Urville Hut and back to Lake Rotoroa. The wasps decided to pick on Graeme once again, who had, by now, had enough. We bumped into two trout fisherman who were the only people we’d seen since leaving Blue Lake.

We stopped at D’Urville Hut for a cuppa and bite to eat. While we were there, a rather annoyed  water taxi driver showed up looking for another tramper who was nowhere to be seen. We continued, easily fording the D’Urville River. However, finding the track on the other side was somewhat of a challenge; not very well-marked.

We continued along the lake track towards Sabine Hut, I have to say this track in some parts is in serious need of some maintenance; not recommended  for trampers wearing gumboots!  As we got nearer to Sabine Hut, we began to hear stories of people with vomiting and diarrhoea.

We eventually arrived to find the hut almost full, with some of the occupants looking rather unwell. Kate and John wisely decided to sleep in their tent while Graeme and I risked the hut. I used the hand sanitiser after touching anything, while Graeme got OCD about hand-washing. All our precautions paid off, either that, or we were very lucky, as we escaped unscathed! 

Having heard reports of bad weather on its way, we decided to skip the night at Speargrass and instead carry on through to Mt Robert car park.

We left Sabine at around 7.30am. The track seemed much less of a challenge this time and we made Speargrass Hut in good time. After some refreshments, we returned to the cars before the rain set in.

After arriving home and cleaning and sorting some of my gear, I checked my emails, shocked to read the newspapers had been in contact and there was some concern that our group may have contracted the dreaded Noro-Virus! Of course, we were all fit and well, but I have to say, I took extra care to disinfect, wash and scrub every bit of gear that I had used on the trip.

A big thank you to all those who joined me: Kate Krawczyk & John Whibley, Cary Richman, Carole &  Rod Lewis, Graeme Ferrier, & Sue Henley (scribe).

31 December 2016 | North Peak | Mt Richmond Forest Park

Leader: Bob Renshaw 

I thought it would be a good idea to put a trip on for the last day of the year but giving only two days notice I didn’t expect any calls.

On the day three of us set off expecting strong winds but it was very calm as we climbed steadily up the ridge in fact a very pleasant morning. As we reached the summit we could see the clouds starting to move in over the surrounding hills. From the summit we descended the scree to the small creek below the track leading up to Gordon’s Knob and climbed up onto the low saddle. From there we followed the track back along to the ridge and back down to Inwood’s Lookout to complete a great day out.

On the trip were Bob Renshaw, Kath Ballentine and Chris Louth.

7 January 2017 | Gordons Pyramid | Kahurangi National Park
Leader: Dan McGuire

Eight stalwart trampers appeared early for the drive to Flora car park. After taking a roundabout route due to excessive chatting, we arrived at the late hour of 9:00 a.m.

The sou’west wind of the previous day was still present, so we headed for Flora Hut and beyond, in the hopes of meeting a calmer day by the time we climbed Gordons Pyramid.

En route, we saw alpine violas, ourisias, maori onions, celmesia spectabilis and other daisies.  But after a lunch out of the wind at the half-way point, we ascended into a very powerful wind and decided to return the way we had come.

After seven hours, we returned to Flora carpark.  The moral of the story: pick your weather!

Participants: Kath Ballantine, Penny Parker

(photographer), Kate Krawczyk, Kelvin Drew, Bruce Alley, Ian Dohoo & Dan McGuire (leader and scribe)

14 January 2017 | Parachute Rocks | Nelson Lakes National Park
Leader: Michele Cunningham

On a fine Saturday morning a group of four trampers gathered for a day trip up to Parachute Rocks above Lake Rotoiti in Nelson Lakes National Park. There were a few sandflies around as we parked near the lake and got ourselves organised. However, we soon walked them off. There were surprisingly few wasps, which was nice to see.

The group set off at a cracking pace leaving the ‘leader’ struggling to keep up.  The day started with a steady climb up through lovely bush on a zig-zag track which kept the gradient pretty manageable.

After a climb of about 700m we reached the bushline. It was only a short scramble to the Parachute Rocks themselves, perched high above the eastern side of the lake. It was a clear sunny day with only a light breeze at that stage, as we enjoyed morning tea with a stunning view.

We then scrambled up the next 300m (straight up this time, no zig-zagging) to get to the ridge.  Up here the light breeze had turned into a moderate and quite chilly wind, so jackets were donned. 

We didn’t have to go far along the ridge before we could get a panoramic view of Lake Rotoiti. It is slightly boomerang-shaped, with the ridge on this side being on the inside of the boomerang.

I have only ever been on the opposite (Robert Ridge) side before, where parts of the lake are always blocked from view, so this was quite a novelty, and definitely required “panorama’’ mode on the camera. We also bumped into a lone photographer with a large camera and tripod, busy taking photos of alpine plants.

A little further along, we found a nice lunch spot slightly off the main ridge, looking down into a basin. We then dropped off the other side of the ridge towards a trap line that Chris knew, as an alternative route back down.

After sitting just above the bushline soaking up the warm sun and the view, we headed back into the bush.

This time it was straight down, holding onto trees and following the trap line ribbons. For the most part the track wasn’t too hard to find, and before we knew it we had popped out on the main lakeside track and headed down to a pebbly beach where Steve jumped into a swim. Then it was a short jaunt along the lakeside back to the carpark where more swims were had to finish the day off in style. A very pleasant day all round.

Trampers were: Chris Louth, Steve McGlone, Bett Koch and Michele Cunningham (scribe).

4–5 February 2017 | Lake Angelus | Nelson Lakes National Park
Leader & Scribe: Sue Henley

This trip was initially supposed to take place in November but was cancelled due to unsuitable weather. Unfortunately, the hut on Waitangi weekend was booked out well in advance and as a result only three of us set off.

The forecast for the Saturday was for moderate winds with the odd shower so there was some consideration given to travelling the Speargrass route

However, when we got to Mt Robert car park the air was still with some low cloud. A decision was quickly made to go via the high route and after a short grunt up the Pinchgut Track, we reached the top. Here, the clothing layers quickly began to go back on. We stopped at the shelter for a quick break before continuing along the ridge, into the wind and cold soaking rain. It was miserable and the views non-existent; rest breaks were short, and after four hours we were rather pleased to smell the smoke and see the hut. The hut was about half full at this stage with plenty of Kiwis in the mix; quite a few of them local.

The next morning dawned bright and beautiful with hardly a breath of wind and it took little persuasion to head for Angelus Peak. After a short sharp climb we reached the top to be rewarded by stunning views all round, reaching the top was a special first for one member so after several photos and congratulations we eventually headed back down to the hut for refreshments. Some fit young men were taking a skinny-dip as we headed up to the ridge One young lady in our group suddenly needed lots of rest stops. (I think she also had a pair of binoculars stashed in her pack!)  We made our way back along the ridge towards Mt Robert car park. On the way home, we passed lots of tourists and families heading towards Angelus
– the hut was going to be busy that night for sure.

It was a very enjoyable weekend. Thank you to both Kate and Liz for the great company.

6 February 2017 (Waitangi Day) | Booth’s Cottage Glenhope Scenic Reserve | Leader: Ray Salisbury

This is a tried-and-true easy trip that’s been on the club calendar for centuries.

On New Year’s Day I’d left Lynette in the car, and jogged up the forestry road for half an hour to the decrepit DOC signboard. But I ran out of an important commodity: time. So, my wee hut-bagging mission was rescheduled for Waitangi Day.

On February 6th, Kelvin Drew did the honours of collecting five eager men and driving us beyond St Arnaud, up the remote Howard Valley. After donning our boots and daypacks, we sauntered up Monument Road to a locked cabin, and a large concrete plinth, decorated with memorial plaques and a gold diggers pan, shovel and pick.

This region of Louis Creek was mined from 1914 and with government assistance during the Great Depression. Amateurs are still allowed to fossick for gold down in the creek.

About 20 minutes amble up the clay track, we enjoyed morning tea at another locked cabin, possibly the site of the old Jeweller’s Shop. The sun was breaking through thick clouds; the imminent rain held off. Half an hour ascending a gentle sidle track along the Third Branch saw us enter the elongated cottage, built by Sid Booth and Ray Clarke in 1933.

Booth’s Cottage was the family home of Sid and Eva Booth and their son Teddy for more than a decade. DOC decided to maintain it as an historic structure, but it is now barely habitable. The visitor book was begun in 1995.

With my party’s agreement, we decided to be more adventurous, and push on up a broad ridge of open beech. The NZFS had marked the track with permolat, and took us about half an hour to reach the 4WD road that drops into Lake Rotoroa.

Long story short, we followed the orika Road past another gold miner’s memorial cairn, and more locked cabins, back to the Kelvinator.

  • Time: 1.5 hrs to Booths Historic Hut.
  • Total: 4 hours, 45 minutes for loop.

Hutbaggers were: Ray Salisbury (scribe), Kelvin Drew (chauffeur), David Cook (tail-end Charlie), Arif Matthee (navigator) and visitor Grant Derecourt (narrator).

10 February 2017 | Lake Rotoiti circuit | Nelson Lakes National Park
Leader: Tim Tyler

Thinking to build on short walks with my daughter, I figured a flat, easy grade with a hut thrown in would be nice. However, two four-year-olds with unproven ability, plus a late pull-out, meant a tweak to the original plan.

Gathering at Kerr Bay, we were whisked (sorry, couldn’t help it) up to the falls jetty by the very accommodating Hamish of Rotoiti Water Taxis. Here we alighted, duly noted said falls and then proceeded to Coldwater Hut for the night.

Fat eels mooching around under the hut jetty, a full moon on a clear night, occasional scrambling of rats in the eaves, platform bunkbeds and fibreglass longdrops made for novelties to be enjoyed.

Dawn found Kath looking very pleased with her new tent. Comment was passed on the quality of morning mist over the lake.

We followed the track south, then forded the Travers at the signposted location, failing to dampen our knees suitably but noting the clarity and ease of travel. A pause at Lakehead Hut and then on to Kerr Bay with regular pauses saw us keep closer to track time than I thought we might, with young James Parker making his mother justifiably proud by walking the entire distance.

Group members were Liz Henderson, Leah & James Parker, Kath Ballantine, Mark Graesser, Sophie & Tim Tyler (scribe).










18–19 February 2017 | Lees Creek | Raglan Ranges
Leader: Pat Holland

The two Honda CRVs picked up participants and rendezvoused at Belgrove with military precision at 8:30 am on a fine clear morning. We drove to the Rainbow Road via the farmhouse where we left the rego forms plus $25 per vehicle road fee (the gate past the ski-field road is unlocked during the summer season).

The dreaded Six-mile Creek ford was shallow and in good order so we drove through to the Lees Creek car park without problems. The team of seven quickly kitted-up and we were across the Wairau River swing bridge by 10:30 am.

The weather was overcast and humid with no wind. The 1 km of track to the swing bridge across Lees Creek was in good order and we enjoyed the walk plus the rather swaying crossing. (Note: this bridge is incorrectly marked as further up the creek on topo maps and GPS.)

The track proceeds on the true left for about three hours to the hut. We moved through a very lovely mix of beech forest and tussock flats with the delightful creek gurgling gently nearby. It is neatly confined in the valley floor and had very clear water.  The track is mostly easy going with plenty of opportunities for conversation and sight seeing.

At one rest point there was wonderful trilling from several bellbirds. Little other birdlife was heard above the piercing racket of late-summer cicadas although we did see several robins and fantails. Wasps were not too evident, perhaps as a result of the coolish, wet summer. (What? I got stung – ed.)

 The weather turned to intermittent light drizzle by mid-afternoon. We plunged out of a forest section onto the start of the large tussock flat where the hut is located. It is an older forest service 4-bunker that was moved from Sandfly Creek about 20 years ago. The sign on the door incongruously says “Lee Creek.” It was occupied by three hunters.

Ray bagged the hut, but to his chagrin we decided not to stay and moved on up valley to find a good camp spot. Pat’s shaky memory thought there was a good camp spot right at the forks at the top of the flat. Although the bush edge of the flat was suitable for camping, the true forks were a welter of beech saplings. So, we decided to continue up the South branch.

The un-marked track on the true left is overgrown in parts. We did get concerned about our water supply when the creek disappeared under the boulders. After a steep section above a gorge the track enters a large flat about one hour from the hut. Although the main creek was still underground, a small side stream was running out of some impressive bluffs on the true right and there was excellent camping nearby. This site was quickly occupied by our array of colourful tents and we were well pleased to get established before the forecast period of evening rain.





Although the tops were beginning to clag in, there was a weak sunset and the evening was very still. We had dinner around a camp fire and thoroughly enjoyed being in such a beautiful wild place, especially those who had recently endured full huts in nearby Nelson Lakes National Park. Despite the pressures of tourism we can still readily find plenty of fantastic backcountry for ourselves.

There was some rain overnight, but Sunday dawned with clearing skies. We decided to let the tents dry out and walk further up-valley, aiming for the tarns at the head, leaving Ray reading a book. The track became even more overgrown and indistinct. Extensive falls of old rotten trees and some slips with fresh boulders indicated damage from the Kaikoura earthquake last November.

After about an hour, we reached the upper forks in more open forest which was obviously the camp spot Pat had recalled. Bluffs and scree slopes on the Mangerton Ridge tower above this grand site. Ruth Hesselyn and Ken Ridley led NTC trips up over this ridge in 2011 and 2015.

Although the bush was thinning, the ‘track’ steepens. We made a route error here and spent 30 minutes scrabbling higher through dracophyllum scrub before realising we should have stuck close to the creek. Moving back down and then up and around a shingle spur we reached a boulder field in the impressive upper basin at 1600m - well above the bushline.

As time was running out, we turned around about 1km short of the tarns. We returned to our camp site after a thoroughly enjoyable morning

 A quick lunch and pack-up saw us under way by 1pm. At the hut, we noted in the log-book that, in addition to the hunters, there had been several day parties through. The trip down the main track was uneventful, apart from another wasp sting. It took us four hours from our camp site to reach the car park.

Although some were rather weary after the morning exertions, the valley was still delightful and readily sustains the in-out nature of the trip. It is interesting to note there are still none of the wilding pines that infest the nearby catchments in Marlborough (e.g. the Branch River). Lees Creek really is one of the gems in this region, east of NLNP.

Explorers were: Patrick Holland (leader & scribe), Ray Salisbury, Ian Morris, Sue Henley, Kelvin Drew, Mark Graesser & Don Morrisey.

21 February 2017 | Barnicoat Walkway | Nelson
Leader: Leah Parker











On Tuesday we met at Barnicoat Carpark by 9am. It was a sunny morning and very hot. We set off and up the 4WD road to the hand glider area on the main Barnicoat Track. Sweating and hot!

Once at the top, we stopped for a break. A little bite of Rocky Road and my orange prune and nut energy log, then we set out along towards the Involution trail and back down to the carpark.

We had another quick stop at the top of the trail at the Jenkins Hill turn-off.

Alex, Suzanne’s five-month-old, was a little champion –not a peep out of him. He slept when tired and had a bottle when hungry, all while on the move in the front pack.

Pat made track improvements along the way. It was a very diverse group from a wide range of backgrounds; everyone chatting. I was very pleased with the turn-out for the trial of a mid-week walk.

It took us just under four hours. I’m looking forward to leading another trip sometime soon.

Participants were: Leah Parker (scribe), Grant Derecourt, Suzanne Morris, Alex Morris, Penny Parker, Sarah How, Pat Holland, Joyce Robinson, Bob Robinson, Chris Louth & Dog.


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