Trip Reports, February-April 2018

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  1. Aorere Peak | Kahurangi National Park
  2. Red Hills Hut | Mt Richmond Forest Park
  3. Mount Starveall | Mt Richmond Forest Park
  4. Boulder Bank | Nelson
  5. Julia Huts, Taipo Valley | West Coast
  6. Coastal walk & catamaran sail | Abel Tasman National Park
  7. Mount Arthur Climb | Kahurangi National Park
  8. Kill Devil Track | Kahurangi National Park

17–19 Feb 2018 | Aorere Peak | Kahurangi National Park
Leader: Pat Holland






This trip was carried over from the previous weekend due to bad weather. We were hopeful of fitting in three days of fine weather before the arrival of Hurricane Gita.

The journey over Takaka Hill and up the Cobb Valley on Saturday was uneventful. The six of us set off mid-morning from Trilobite Hut under warm, calm conditions. But the sky was looking a bit grey and threatening up-valley. We took a break at delightful Chaffeys Hut.

The river was clear but the high tide mark of debris from the previous week’s storm was two metres up the bank. The track was in excellent condition and a lasting testament to Max Polglaze and his DOC team in the 1980s—it used to be a boggy mess.

Lunch was consumed at the Tent Camp, which was renovated in 2016. We reached Cobb Hut in light drizzle. Here, the team debated the options:
head for the comfort of Fenella Hut, or camp at Lake Cobb (1090m). A split vote decided on the latter, so we headed up the rough, marked track to the lake, then along to the far end where Barry knew of an excellent camp-site  (5.5 hours).

An excellent decision it proved to be, as the drizzle stopped. There were periods of weak sunshine in the late afternoon. Barry had forgotten his parka, but his minimalist approach to gear was paying off.

We set up camp under a huge old beech tree, relaxed in that delightful spot, and had dinner around a campfire, with wekas, robins, fantails and some sandflies for company.

After a peaceful night, we arose to a fine morning then made the famous, early start for a day trip to our destination. The track up was steep to Round Lake (1300m), which is just above the bushline, looking very atmospheric as the sun began to reach across the ridge. Here, Chris decided to turn back, as his dodgy back was playing up.

We continued up tussock slopes to reach the ridge leading above the lakehead, then up Mt Gibbs. There is an unmarked, but well defined, track – part of a day circuit from Fenella Hut. The cliffs that fall into the lake were impressive. We had good views down-valley and across to the Lockett Range.













As we reached a small saddle under Mt Gibbs, Island Lake came into view, with the ridge above it leading to Aorere Peak, our destination. This looked a long way off, and so it proved. The walking across a broad tussock slope in calm conditions was delightful. Gentians were in bloom everywhere.

After traversing a minor peak, we reached the bulk of Aorere Peak, consisting of a series of rocky promontories on a long ridge to the summit. The travel was still easy with some scrambling amongst the rocky outcrops – but without large height gains or losses. We headed up a peak that appeared to be the highest, although Barry thought the summit was still beyond this. We were relieved to find a cairn with pole and the ridge falling away steeply to the North ... we had made it! (1730m; 4.5 hours from camp).

The peak is beyond the end of Island Lake, some 500 vertical metres below. We took an extended lunch break here. Some dozed in the sun while the rest took in the stupendous views. We could just see Fenella Hut with Cobb Valley in the distance. Waingaro and Kakapo Peaks were prominent with Mt Snowden behind. To the north, the Dragons Teeth looked particularly fearsome from this side. In between was the extensive, bush-clad Burgoo Valley—true wilderness country.

Time was running  out, so we reluctantly retraced our steps off Aorere. On our way back, we took a short deviation to the summit of Mount Gibbs (1645m) with its views of Xenicus Peak, then turned down to the numerous tarns above Fenella Hut, then right down the bluffs into Round Lake.













We returned to our camp at Lake Cobb in nine hours—what a great day! It’s marvellous country up the Cobb and well worth spending more than the two days. There  are so many options for adventures above the bushline.

We broke camp on Monday and returned to Trilobite Hut on another fine day. We knew the hurricane was coming, so high-tailed it back to Nelson. Just as well, for on Tuesday the storm took out the road over Takaka Hill, and the bridge that leads to the Cobb valley.

Adventurers were: Pat Holland (scribe), Mike Drake, Barry James, Kelvin Drew, Scott Stocker & Chris Louth.












3–4 March 2018 | Red Hills Hut | Mt Richmond Forest Park
Leader: Leah Parker

There are several club members who like to take their children or grandchildren tramping.  It is a great way to develop an appreciation of nature, well away from the highly-commended David Attenborough programmes. Or the entertaining, but exaggerated, Madagascar movies.

The great outdoors; nature in the raw; fresh air; healthy exercise; no technology; interesting things to see!

Leah Parker has not only led the discussion within the club; she has lead by example as well. Leah has taken her two boys James and Tom on several tramps, so the invitation to join her and the boys proved very attractive for Chris, Julieanne and their grand daughter Meila, plus Anna Ferrier and her son Ari. The children ranged  from four to five, and had not met before.

There was great excitement when the cars arrived at the Red Hills car park. The children quickly introduced themselves. Almost immediately there was the buzz of chattering children, all talking about their big adventures while tramping. Ahead were seven kilometres of quite easily-graded tramping along an old forestry track with a short, sharp climb to the hut. Five adults and four happy kids.

The children set off at a cracking pace, as they chattered and took turns at being the leader.  The oldies ambled along behind, only catching up when the children encountered a significant obstacle such as a creek crossing, or the need to refuel with snacks.

Each family commented on how much faster the children walked, compared to dawdling along when walking as a family group.

Just as the group were starting the steeper climb to the hut, there was a great discovery – a whole family of fearless mice were enjoying the sunshine outside their rocky castle. The children were quickly picking them up and holding them while some adults beat a strategic retreat!

Meila, the only girl, showed signs of a potential veterinary career with her confident animal handling skills. But the distraction had to be curtailed to continue the final climb. The first signs all day of tiredness began to surface.

While distracted by the mouse family, Chris had walked on ahead to the Hut. He was able to return and encourage everyone up that final climb. Having arrived at an empty hut, the children suddenly found new energy. They started playing games with matchbox toys on the bunks and decks. However, it wasn’t long before others arrived, and as a concession to the well-travelled TA trampers, tents were set-up outside for the children to sleep in that night.











Tiredness eventually caught up with the small bodies, so all slept very soundly that night. Breakfast brought more excitement, but differing return times meant a more fragmented group on the walk out – and a slower trip, as the ‘dawdling’ returned, but for a very different reason – it was to let their mates in the later groups catch up!

A great tramp for all concerned. Thanks to Leah for great organisation.

Graeme Ferrier (scribe)

17 March 2018 | Mt Starveall via Lucy Creek | Mt Richmond Forest Park
Leader: Ian Morris

In order to approach Mt Starveall from the Lucy Creek side, we needed to get a permit to drive in through the forest. This entailed attending a Heath and Safety induction course and establishing that my vehicle insurance was current and acceptable. I also equipped my vehicle with a fire extinguisher, shovel and first aid kit, thoroughly washing all mud from the wheel arches to comply with the bio-security requirements. Finally, I received the actual permit, accompanied by a key and two-way radio. Already feeling exhausted, I had not even started the tramp!

On the day, five of us headed through the locked gate into the pine forest, calling up on the radio every kilometre along the road, as instructed. We had been given a map showing which roads to follow through the forest. It was fairly simple to navigate up to the carpark at 900m. Unfortunately, I parked the car next to a patch of bidi-bids, so Theresa became thoroughly acquainted with them for the first time.

The track up to Starveall Hut was straightforward so we had morning tea inside the hut. We then pushed on to the summit and along to point 1528 where we had lunch while trying to shelter from the cold breeze. Why is the Mt Starveall name attached to a lower point on the summit ridge? (A similar thing happens with Ben Nevis and Gordons Knob and it seems wrong to me.)

On the descent, I removed a few small Douglas Fir trees just below point 1258. The drive out through the forest was uneventful, apart from a gate that was wide open on the way up, but was now locked. Luckily, our key fitted that gate too and we breathed a sigh of relief.

Thanks to Andrea for doing the initial organisation for this trip. Participants were: Ian Morris, Chris Louth,  Kerry Jones, Grant Derecourt & Theresa Magrane.

24 March 2018 | Te Pokohiwi / Boulder Bank | Nelson
Leader: Liz Henderson

I had been aiming to run a training weekend this weekend, but due to lack of resources and access roads, I decided to put on a small keep-it-local day-walk instead. It is a lovely way to view Nelson from the other side of the water. 


The 8km walk from Boulder Bank Drive to ‘The Cut’, takes 2–3 hours one way, and our spritely group certainly did that in lesser time. Although a relatively easy walk, the Boulder Bank is very rocky, rough, dry and exposed in places, and has certainly suffered some damage from some of the cyclones earlier in the year which have shifted some of the rocks. 


One thing, however, that I personally found very concerning and overwhelming, was the amount of plastic washing up along the inside of the Boulder Bank. On the return leg I filled a couple of bags, picking up plastic bottles, the condemned drinking straw and many many tennis balls which had washed up. The weekend prior to our walk there had been an organized clean up, so I can only figure that a lot of what I picked up was fresh, which was very sad to see.  

And I forgot that you can get a key for the lighthouse from the Port of Nelson security office! Apparently there’s a visitor’s book inside the lighthouse, and a very cool wooden staircase leading up to the light with a small hatch you can pop through onto the balcony – definitely a highlight of a trip there.

Four humans and Kobi the dog did this walk.  Kobi needs to be complemented heavily on his group management skills – walking amongst the pack and checking on all members. It was very nice to see Rita again before her return to the UK. 

A lovely afternoon with interesting wildlife and baches to see on the way.

Walkers were: Liz Henderson (trip leader & scribe), Scott Stocker, Rita Bourn, Kerry Jones & Kobi the dog.













30 March–2 April  2018 (EASTER) | Taipo Valley | West Coast
Leader & Scribe: Ray Salisbury

What do you get when three atheists, one Muslim, one Christian ...
and a bloke into Te Reo go tramping? Interesting conversations!

My penchant for hot pools has seen me take several club trips down country over long weekends. Our visit to the remote Taipo valley was postponed, then finally realized in Easter 2018. Dion and Margueritte had visited about eight years ago on a hut-bragging mission, but our motives were more diverse.

Ian collected us at Victory Square in his Suzuki, and we sped off to the first watering hole at Beechwoods. We connected with Arif at the trackhead, and then enjoyed lunch.

Clouds were gathering overhead when we four-wheel-drived over a low bush saddle through a patch of private land, parking up by the Taipo River. Packs were unloaded, then our party of six perambulated along river flats and shallow crossings. Ian and myself detoured to visit the old NZFS hut at Seven Mile, to be greeted by the grumpy land owner, who wasn’t happy to see anyone on his turf.

Dillon Hut (10 bunks) had a bunch of Lincoln Uni friends inside, but five bunks were free for us. Arif retreated to the antiquated but charming Dillon Homestead, some five minutes along the 4WD track.

Saturday morning saw us donning raincoats and pack covers, braving the forecast rain. An hour of easy tramping brought us to the crux of this expedition: crossing the turbulent Taipo, which was running too high. We had no choice but to utilize the Flood Track … then everything changed.

Down climbing a series of rock slabs gave access to an aluminum ladder, hanging from steel cables. Once past this obstacle, we had to gingerly negotiate a very steep and slippery track to the new walkwire. It was here that David slipped and hurt his back a bit.

Crossing the new five-wire swingbridge was relatively safe. It was constructed in 2017 to replace the ageing Scotty’s Cableway. (Apparently, some foreigners were stranded halfway, had to jump, and broke a leg.) However, while agile and confident guys crossed the new bridge in two minutes, one Czech girl took over six minutes.

The flood track climbed a steep face for some 300 metres. It was here that David decided to retreat, his sore back causing some discomfort. Arif volunteered to accompany him. It took Graeme an hour to get these two guys across the bridge, then up the ladder, then down an exposed section of track. We waited patiently in heavy rain, soaked to the skin, getting colder by the minute.

Now just a quartet, we made faster progress up and over the Flood Track, which included an anxious descent down a shingle land-slip. Once past the crux of our trip, we pushed on along delightful river flats for a few hours. Fording Dunn Creek and Hura Creek posed no difficulty. We lunched at Mid-Taipo Hut, where hunters sucked on cigarettes in the sunlight.

The hungover sky began to clear, with spasmodic sun showers, as we enjoyed the relatively easier track up-valley. A swingbridge brought us back to the true right, deep into rata forest. I particularly enjoyed the robins, fantails, tomtits, bellbirds and whio we encountered.










Nearly seven hours of walking saw us cross the final walkwire and clamber up to the historic Julia Hut. Its four bunks were full, with families camping outside, fresh from traversing over Harman Pass. Five minutes further, the newer Julia Hut was chocka full of Aussies – with Kiwi girlfriends. Ian and myself erected our tiny tents; Kerry opted to snuggle into his bivvy bag; Graeme slept under the hut’s table – that made five on the floor!

The hot springs were discovered by following a track past the longdrop into the Taipo River, then boulder-hopping for 150 metres. The Aussies had marked the route with little cairns. I photographed them relaxing in two pools of approximately 35 and 40-degree water. Kerry visited the pools for a night-time bath, alone.

Awaking on Resurrection Sunday to a perfect day, we brushed the ice off our tents, and made a bee-line for the warm hut. (Sleeping on frosty ground at zero degrees under a starry sky is not comfortable in a two-season bag.)

The leader reluctantly sacrificed his hot swim for members who wanted to move on. The decision was made to decamp and reconvene at the Dillon Huts. This required another long, seven-hour day. However, the sun dried out the slippery track, and in pleasant weather the return journey was a totally different experience to the previous day.

All safe and sound at Dillon Hut, I spent a wonderful night inside the Homestead with Arif and a family from Dunsandel, plus three youngsters who had ‘done’ Harman Pass. We counted about 25 folks in the two huts, including campers.

Easter Monday saw us waddle along the 4WD track to the twin Suzukis. We enjoyed banter over coffee at the Kumara pub. Our final party get-together was lunch at the popular tearooms in Reefton.

In retrospect, I believe our whole party would have reached Julia Hut with lower river levels. The notorious and dangerous Flood Track was the deciding factor to split our party. All-in-all, it was a successful and enjoyable trip, and the diverse company kept it all interesting.

Trampers: Arif Matthee, David Cook, Graeme Ferrier, Ian Morris, Ray Salisbury & visitor Kerry Jones.

1 April 2018 | Coastal walk & catamaran sail | Abel Tasman Nat. Park
Skipper: Brian Renwick

We left Nelson at 8am, arriving in Abel Tasman at 9:10am. After a short 4km tramp, Kate and her mom Joanne, visiting from Canada, were picked up by Brian on his catamaran at Coquille Bay. The rest of the group tramped on to Anchorage Beach (12km) with a brief drop down to beautiful Watering Cove to have lunch.

Watering Cove is where Jules Dumont D’Urville stopped to replenish his fresh water supply back in 1827. D’Urville named many of the features along the Abel Tasman coastline while exploring in his ship Astrolabe; Adele Island (after his wife), Separation Point, Coquille Bay, and many more.

The three on the boat anchored at Anchorage Beach to wait for the walkers. Brian cooked up two kahawai he had caught the night before and we shared our cheese and crackers.

When the rest of the group arrived at Anchorage they found the catamaran waiting with a hot cup of tea provided at the infamous Café Brian.  We all honed our rowing skills with trips on the dinghy, travelling back and forth between the catamaran and the beach.

After lunch we hauled anchor and set sail for Adele Island. On the way, Brian trained us in sailing skills, teaching us how to navigate, steer, raise sails and (wo)man the helm. As Brian says “if I go overboard, I need you guys to know how to come and save me!”

The bird song at Adele Island was absolutely beautiful and we watched a small seal scamper among the rocks on the beach. Joanne and Marianne explored some fascinating caves along the beach. Meanwhile, we climbed a track to the ridgeline for a scenic view and to hunt down the elusive saddleback. It was just warm enough for Kate to swim out to the catamaran while we rowed. Wind strengthened and conditions were perfect for a sail around Fishermans Island before Brian dropped us off back at Coquille Bay for our return along the track to the car park.

We had perfect weather for the tramp and sail, with the sun shining. Many thanks to Brian for generously offering to take us sailing and to Chris for organizing the transport and walking section.

Participants were: Kate Krawczyk, Joanne Krawczyk,  Theresa Magrane, Marianne Hermsen and Chris Louth.

15 April 2018 | Mount Arthur Climb | Kahurangi National Park
Leader: Debbie Hogan

Being fairly recent imports to Nelson, when we Googled ‘Nelson Tramping Clubs’ and found the website, I saw there was a club meeting in a couple of days and so we came along. The walk this weekend would be to Mount Arthur.

I had a view of Mount Arthur from my old office window; it looked pretty big and snowy in winter (we’re from the North Island). People said it was an easy climb; they said they’d taken their kids up there. I wasn’t sure what to expect; as a newbie I didn’t realise there was a ‘grading system.’

We turned up keen and confident on Sunday morning. It was a great idea to meet in Richmond and car pool. I doubt my little VW Polo would have made it up the road, so thank you Phillip for chauffeuring us to the start.

So off we went; there were six of us, with Debbie our ever-patient leader making sure we all knew the rules.

I think we were all very pleasantly surprised with the weather. Although our views were sometimes hampered by low cloud, the wind was almost non-existent, so on the way up to the hut we were de-layering, it was so warm!

Grant led the way. Alan was also a newbie to the club, but being a road biker, he has a good base fitness. Debbie and Phillip kept John company at the rear. We chatted away on the way up and suddenly we were at the hut for morning tea.

I didn’t realise we had walked 4.2 km, I truly thought we’d only gone a couple of kilometres. This first part was very pleasant; great track, gentle climb, nothing too arduous. Someone asked me after I did the walk, “did I like the Doctor Seuss trees?” Immediately, I understood.

There were a few other people on the track, everyone going at their own pace, but all focussed on the same goal.

I believe it took us just over an hour to arrive at Mt Arthur hut. A couple of young men were busy cleaning it.

After morning tea, we strode off for the final five kilometres – a little more arduous for John and I, but as they say: “one foot in front of the other!”

I loved the colours of the flora and fauna.  There were patches of snow. Little by little those patches got slightly bigger and suddenly we were walking through it. As a townie from Auckland, this was cool!

Grant kept the pace up front, making sure no scary creatures had escaped the Doctor Seuss trees from below.

In two hours, five minutes, we had arrived at the “15 minutes from the peak” spot (which took us 45 minutes). This last bit was quite challenging for me; I literally climbed up through the snow on my hands and knees … not sure if this is the way proper trekkers do it, but it worked for me.

The top was a treat! We were lucky to get a few minutes of clouds clearing; enough time for a photo shoot and a peek through to Nelson. We returned the way we came and found a lovely, sheltered spot for lunch. 

Obviously on a clear day, the views would be magnificent … next time!

We were so pleased that our first trek was with a group of such positive, patient people, who were happy to share their knowledge and experience of tramping. It was great to get little tips; like how to walk up hill in snow, and how to go downhill in snow. Did you know there are two ways to go downhill? Either dig your heels in, or put your waterproof pants on and slide down. This second option was much more fun.

Next time, Debbie, we will understand the classification system.

Climbers were: Debbie Hogan, Grant Derecourt, John Hewlett, Mary Hewlett, Alan Bywater and Philip Palmer.












22 April 2018 | Kill Devil Track | Kahurangi National Park
Leader: Graeme Ferrier

The Kill Devil Track does have critics who describe it as being a bit ‘boring.’ But to many others, tramping is not just about the scenery. It is about the fresh air and exercise, as well as socialising, exploring tracks in new areas and yes, seeing new scenery that may have not been visited before.

In addition, there can be aspects of history, with historical huts to be visited. Kill Devil Track offers most of these things.

The tramp was listed as having historic Riordans Hut as the goal. However, the end of daylight saving (an oversight by the leader!) and delays on the Takaka Hill after the serious damage from the rain storm, meant that was unlikely to be achieved within the day.

So, a slightly less ambitious target was agreed: to go as far as we could along the ridgeline while allowing reasonable time to return to the cars and  Nelson at a ‘civilised’ hour. Some people did have to work the next day!

This track begins at a car park off Uruwhenua Road. The distinction between the farm road and the access road is confusing, so one vehicle went up each, but we got there! Local members of the GBTC have improved the car parking area through the Hut & Track Fund – a great job.

There were cars with bike racks that had obviously been there overnight—a sign to watch out for mountain bikers.

After a short ramble along the river bank, there is a zig-zag track (>50 zigs or are they zags?) that climbs steadily for about 800m to the ridgeline. This took a bit under three hours. Lunch was at the historic Tin Hut. The track itself was an old pack-track into the Waingaro gold fields, as well as later being used for access to sheep grazing around Riordans Hut. There are remnants of the fencing still visible along the track.

Discussion over lunch lead to the decision to continue along the ridge until about 2pm. This would have us back at the cars by around 4.30pm for the return to Nelson. We turned back approx. 45 minutes from Riordans Hut. There is always a next time!

Overall, it was a good day out for everyone.

Trampers were: Philip Palmer; Grant Derecourt; Debbie Hogan; S Gill; Leah Parker; B Ayres; M Buckley; Graeme Ferrier (leader & scribe).








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