Trip Reports

29 October 2006 Takorika, Organiser: Gretchen Williams

PLAN B Trampers- Dan McGuire, Tony Haddon , Uta Purcell, Gretchen Williams.

It's what I hate most about organizing trips – trying to predict the weather, will we go, won't we go? Out of the 15 who booked in 4 took up the offer of Plan B when I phoned them on Sunday morning to cancel the Takorika trip after heavy rain warnings for both Nelson & Marlborough. We headed off from the Brook Reservoir in light drizzle which became steady rain just as we reached the top of the fire break and went into the bush. We ‘discovered' a beautiful tree daisy (olearia?), quite tall and in full flower, about half way up on the edge of the manuka trees. I hope it survives the sanctuary fence and that plenty of cuttings are taken from it. Tramping in this weather brings a completely different outlook to the surroundings. The vista is brought in much closer and you notice things like the vibrant, shining green mosses, the bright red, yellow and orange beech leaves and the purple pouch fungi in the litter on the track. The wind was howling in the tree tops and the rain was horizontal in spots but we were unaffected in our protective forest. A stoat was spotted zooming into the undergrowth. We had a brief lunch stop at Third House in the swirling mist and after wondering if we would meet any mountain bikers we set off down the Dun Walkway. Funnily enough there was no one else about that day! Back to the car and home for an early afternoon tea and a bit of gear drying.

4-5 November 2006 Flanagan's Hut, Organiser: Andy Clark, Scribe: Margot Syms

Andy had done the organising and then his swollen ankle prevented him from coming. The trip proceeded on a basis of democracy/anarchy/great minds think alike/a bunch of mates away for the weekend together. With the monotonous regularity of late, a brilliant mid-week was followed by a forecast of deteriorating weather for the weekend – but not of the Labour weekend magnitude – that would have really broken the drought. Off up the Baton we headed after a head start by Mike and Dion braving the ford and driving on up the rough road. The track was originally a pack-track used by one Flanagan and his wife to drive cattle up into the high basin for grazing. Time has not been kind to the track, and on a nice day it might be more pleasant to stick to the river bed. En route we noted the locations of the now unmaintained tracks to Twins via Paddy Spur and up Loveridge Spur. Lunch on the dot of 12.00 was one of those occasions when you realise why you go tramping – sitting in the sun in a pretty river bed with the odd whiff of smoke as Mike boiled the billy for tea. Onwards to Flanagan's Hut for more tea, then the assault on the Baton Saddle while the weather held. The upper valley is famous for the wild Spaniards – fortunately the softer variety, for there were armadas of them. The track had been maintained only a season ago, essential for its negotiation without swearing or tears. On the saddle we braced ourselves against the breeze to admire the atmosphere of developing storm clouds on the mountains to the west, or sheltered in the lee among the tussock to look at the snow still on Tapuae-o-uenuku. Coming down we were impressed with the number of healthy cedars near the bush line, including a cluster of giant specimens near the hut. Back at the hut, soon there were 7 little camp stoves purring, 7 stews a cooking, and one lonely dessert outside setting – Uta you are so trusting. Ian slept in his tent either to avoid the snoring (his story) or to avoid being heard snoring (unproven). Sunday, still fine, we danced off back out, stopping at our same spot in the river exactly 22 hours later for a cup of morning tea – thanks to Mike and Peter on the fire. The one dissenting voice soon had his mug out. Back at the cars for lunch, and then home in time for some of us to chase the rotary hoe around the garden – others had different ideas – one can only assume that their gardens are already planted. On Monday it rained. On Wednesday it snowed.

The mates : Uta Purcell, Ken Ridley, Dion Pont, Carole Crocker, Ian Pavitt, Mike Marren, Peter and Margot Syms. In absentia: Andy Clark.

12 November 2006 Captain Creek Hut, Organiser: Trish Bennett

Even though the morning started off wet, we decided to go ahead with the trip. Arrived at the end of Maungatapu Road to find Dion waiting for us, as he missed meeting with us at the church steps, and arrived earlier than we did. Parked the cars at the end of Mt. Richmond Road and started our tramp, with a stop along the way for morning tea at a picnic table near the Pelorus River and after a short break we left for the rest of the 2 hour walk. Just before our arrival at Captain Creek Hut we heard gunshots, to find out that some people had been target shooting for goats. We went down to the river to have our lunch and the sandflies were busy so insect repellent was helpful. Had a look in the 6 bed hut then headed back along the track. Along the way we caught glimpses of the beautiful emerald green river pools – just magic on the calm and sunny day. The bush was full of ferns, pongas and lancewood trees. Arrived back at the cars about 5.30pm after a long but great walk.

Participants were: Trish Bennett, Andy Clark, Ross Price, Dan McGuire, Robyn Walsh, Katie and Maurice Cloughley, Yvonne Kyle, Arthur Jonas, Shirley Gabrielsen, Dion Pont, Willi Stewart and visitors, Jo Kay and Susan Sinclair.

12 November 2006 Sunrise Peak , Organiser: David Blunt. Cancelled (weather)

19 November 2006 Tantragee Saddle, Organiser: Gillian Arbuthnott

Our starting point was a gravel track leading off the south end of Brook Street , and shortly this well-trodden and well-ridden path became the Old Codgers Track which winds gently around the bush-clad hillside, past the water filtration plant – Nelson's water has recently been given an Ab rating – to the top of the Tantragee Saddle. From here we enjoyed glimpses of the Brook Valley and the pine covered slopes of Dun Mountain before a rapid descent to the Maitai Valley . Here the path meanders alongside the Waahi Taakaro Golf Course and then follows the Maitai River which was brimming with fast-flowing water from bank to bank. Property development forced us to leave the river path at Cloustons Bridge and a well-paced walk via Nile , Tasman and Brook Streets brought us back to the starting point. A picturesque local outing was enjoyed by Gillian Arbuthnott, Trish Bennett and visitors, Barbara and Ray Hems.

26 November 2006 Atawhai Hills, Organiser: Grahame Harris
PLAN B Trampers – Alison Nicoll & Gretchen Williams

Grahame Harris was incapacitated when I phoned in for this trip so guess who was ‘conned' into taking over! Various people phoned in to put their names on or take their names off the list Grahame provided and at the 9am departure time on Sunday morning I had four names in total. At 8.55am it had started to rain and when we arrived to collect Yvonne & Arthur their lack of enthusiasm was obvious, even before the invitation to go inside for coffee was offered! It was still raining after drinks had been consumed, photographs searched for and looked at, yarns about adventures past and future had been spun, so Alison and I opted for Plan B – mini Atawhai Hills. We left Ngapua Reserve and had a leisurely walk along the foothills to the Centre of NZ noting the mist coming and going from the higher Wells & Kaka Hills - our original destinations.

2 December 2006 Family Group – Mt Arthur Hut and beyond . Cancelled

3 December 2006 Mt Robert-Speargrass, Organiser: David Nielsen

It was cloudy when we set off from the Mt Robert car park. We lost President Tony at the start, however “Never mind him, he'll be Ok”, … then somehow Tony appeared at the front of the group!! Once we reached the top we had morning tea, with great views of the lake. You know, those ridges and gravel scree all look the same, “ No its not this one, it must be that one over there” Just a wee bit of wind on the top, so we didn't hang around much before heading down the scree. Lunch was had just out of the bush, where some (nameless ones) nearly went to sleep in the sun! The new Speargrass Hut has a deck, 12 bunks and even a kitchen sink, all of which put it in the “pretty flash” category of huts. The return walk to the car park was a pleasant way to end an enjoyable trip. Participants: Uta Purcell, Dan McGuire, Jocelyn Winn, Gretchen Williams, Mary Honey, Anne Sheridan, Mark Graesser, Tony Haddon and David Nielsen

10 December 2006 Mt. Richmond , Organiser: Dan McGuire

Two parties, one of 6 and the other of 2, left Mt. Richmond car park just after 9.00am, amid great weather, to arrive at the hut by 11.45am. On the way to the summit we saw, penwipers, celmesias(in bloom), and euphrasias. We could see Blenheim and Mt. Fishtail , as well as the alpine route from the summit. After a leisurely lunch we descended to reach the vehicles by 5.00pm. Thanks to Arthur and Dion for superb driving skills. Participants: Dan McGuire, Arthur Jonas, Dion Pont, Sue Davies, Gretchen Williams, Ann Sheridan, Carol Crocker and Beverley Muirhead.

10 December 2006 Kokorua - Christmas Picnic, Organiser: David Blunt

About an hour's drive saw us at the start of our farm track, with our leader promising us we could have a morning tea stop at the farm house after a mere 20 minutes walk. This was definitely not going to be a hard day! The old farm house is in the most delightful spot with a view to die for. On down around the edge of the estuary and up over a low hill for a great view looking down past a quaint bach to the sea and beach below. We were soon on the beach where there were lots of shells and interesting stones to amuse us as we wandered to the western end of the beach to our lunch spot.

Lunch was a leisurely and enjoyable affair - it was a beautiful sunny day and this is a really lovely, peaceful spot. A few hardy souls had a swim: they enjoyed the refreshing dip, the rest enjoyed the entertainment. Santa's sack was contributed to, Ian chosen to be Santa, and we all selected a treat. Chocolate was a popular theme but the kite was perhaps the favourite – yes, the $2 kites from the market work well. We also had Christmas cake and fresh yummy cherries, compliments of our leader (wondered why he had such a large pack). A very enjoyable day and many thanks to David Blunt for organising it, from:

Yvonne Kyle, David & Alison Nicoll, Rosemary Weir, Kathy Harrison, Ian Pavitt, Lindsay Twiname scribe), Barry James, Mike Daly, Steve Thurlow, Pat & Teddie Holland, and Jay Berkow.

PS: David Nicoll had taken in to DOC, for them to identify, a sample of a prickly plant which no-one knew and which seemed quite prolific. DOC advise it was a star thistle ( Centaurea calcitrapa ) which is not listed as a regionally or nationally significant weed species. Apparently it is a noxious weed in USA , especially the west.
Murchison Day walks, 15/16 December 2006 Organiser: Tony Haddon

Having followed Tony along the Shenendoah Road to an anonymous looking gate into an inauspicious looking paddock somewhere past the Maruia Falls we parked the vehicles and continued to follow Tony across the paddock and into the bush. We met a possum trapper, the only man I have met who bemoaned the dwindling local possum population, and began to follow a barely discernible track along a creek, climbing past dramatic bluffs through some attractive bush. We had a brief stop for morning tea and not long after were waylaid by a couple of gregarious keas who clearly wanted to chat. They posed for a few camera shots and we then dropped down to pretty Lake Caslani . We splashed and bush bashed round the lake, cameras clicking, to a sandy spit where we had an early lunch.

After lunch we set off cross-country, walking round the base of more huge bluffs to reach Cliff Stream , the outlet for Cliff Lake . A short climb later and we were at the lake. Another hidden gem it was the home to a colony of shags which nested above one of the steep cliffs which dropped into the lake. Oddly the water was a cloudy brown – no apparent cause, unless it resulted from the droppings of the many birds.

We picked up a ridge that led to a descent to the paddock in which we had left the vehicles and were down in less than an hour, completing a circular route.

Tony had booked a unit at the Kiwi Holiday Camp in Murchison and duly showered and changed most of us went to town for a meal. Altogether a better option than Plan B which would have meant tenting in some paddock trying to cook a meal in the rain!!

By morning the rain had gone and we drove off to the Blackwater River off the Mangles Valley Road . We then had a very leisurely walk across paddocks and into the bush. Following a marked track we arrived at a fumarole. For those who don't know (and I didn't) a fumarole is described in the Dictionary as a “Crevice in cone of volcano through which vapour issues”. This wasn't a volcano so probably the description isn't strictly correct but it was very spectacular. There in front of us were flames issuing from the earth. There were individual fires over about a square metre and considerable heat was given off. We boiled billies and some people toasted their lunch sandwiches. We were very impressed.

We returned by the same route and took the Braeburn Road to Lake Rotorua before heading for home after a very interesting weekend – thank you Tony. Other participants were Christine Hoy, Gretchen Williams, Yvonne Kyle and Arthur Jonas (scribe).