Trip Reports

17-18 December 2005 - Lake Alexander. Organiser: Tony Haddon

This trip was an introduction to the Nelson Tramping Club Rules 1 - 24. My counsellor said I should get out and meet new and interesting people. A trip to Lake Alexander and Ferny Gair with the NTC sounded like the thing to do. At the start, the skipper took me aside and said "If you're keen to be a member, try impressing some committee members this trip. Just watch what we do and try to follow the rules".

A stop for lunch at Tummil Hut and out comes the machete. Down come a few sizable shrubs and next thing you know we have a roaring fire and a hot cup of tea. Then it's off to Lake Alexander, fortunately the track was through forest protecting us from the heat of the sun we had endured in the morning. Soon we were setting up camp on the southern shore. A nod from the skipper and an introduction to Rule 6: Prospective members collect firewood and set up the fire. OK, while the others set up camp I work on making an impression.

Soon the billy was boiling and tea was served, this became an important ritual throughout the weekend.

We then discussed the route to Ferny Gair. Time for another test, find the start of the track. This turned out to be fairly simple, though following it after 50m was a little bit harder. Once its general direction was determined it was time to head back, a second task complete.

Back at camp more discussion this time about age. At 48 I thought I couldn't be the youngest. All assured me I was and rule 12 and 18 had to be followed. So tomorrow morning it was café au lait as well as having to carry all the party water up to Ferny Gair. After being told rule 19 "prospective members have to be in front for at least some part of the trip", I did sleep a little uneasy, it may have been the stories of feeding unreliable members to the pigs who dispose of all evidence.

With my bladder full we set off the next day. Rule 20 "to meet with a member" looked to be impossible as they were like a hyperactive m 'n m always skipping ahead. Fortunately the skipper gave a pep talk and the order to "tighten up" allowed me to slip ahead on several occasions. On reaching the top of the ridge it was decided that going on was pointless in the poor visibility. Soon we were back at camp, another successful tramp nearly over. All that was left to do was walk out in the rain and drive home.

What looked like being a quiet trip home was changed by rule 24: prospective members who drive spend their car donation money on shouting the others at the winery visit on the way home. After all that I have changed counsellors. Seriously, if you want to know what goes on with these trips then you'd better go. I very rarely go tramping with such a diverse and interesting group of people. This is what it is all about. Thanks for a great weekend and I look forward to going on the next Billy Tea trip.

Participants: Tony Haddon, Gretchen Williams, Nora Flight, Mike Marren, Peter & Margot Syms, Mark Graesser, and visitor David Vanderpeet.

17-18 December 2005 - Christmas Social at Tapawera.

A weekend with a difference. A rather damp Saturday meant that only a few people arrived early for an exploration of Mike and Heather's property: Dion being one of them and discovering in the bush an old bottle for his collection. Most people arrived simply for a tour around Mike and Heather's impressive log home. By early evening, a very sociable group (including Jeff Lukey) were happily reclining on lounge chairs on the large and covered deck enjoying a very mild evening - as well as a veritable feast and a fine selection of wine. Maybe it is just as well tramps don't typically start this way! The overnight camp was a selection of mattresses on the floor, with two people opting for the guest caravan.

The following morning some activity was required so, after much toast-making and coffee-brewing, we took a short walk to Mike's Broadband aerial site and workings, and then further on around part of the periphery of their property, through regenerating bush. Then back to the house and with everyone present, we set off for Jeff's place to view his volcanoes and mini-lakes. Jeff's garden, where we had morning tea, is a delight. Lots of creativity, hard work and humour make this spot a "must see". Then a 1-2 hour walk through Jeff's QE2 covenanted forest where Jeff pointed out flora of interest, including a magnificent mistletoe in full flower, and also Olearia Polita. Apart from Jeff's place, Olearia Polita grows in the Sherry and Glenhope areas on tertiary mudstone but is not known to grow anywhere else in the world (therefore of much interest to DOC etc.)

Many thanks to Mike Drake and Heather Spence for opening their home to the club. Many thanks to lumberjack-Mike for felling and trimming wilding pines whose tops made perfect Xmas trees. And a very big thank you to Jeff Lukey for showing us through his fabulous garden and forest.

The appreciative visitors were: Ruth Hesselyn, David Blunt, Uta Purcell, Ken Ridley, Margaret Robinson, Lindsay Twiname, Ian Pavitt, Mark Stevens, Dion Pont, Carole Crocker, Beverley Muirhead, Alice Patterson, Bronwyn Jones.

8 January 2006 - Pearse Peak. Organiser: Arthur Jonas

There was an inevitability before we left town that we weren't going to do Pearse Peak, possibly hinted at by the strong wind even at sea level. Even so there was some optimism because the drive through Upper Moutere and beyond was delightful with bright morning sunshine and an almost cloudless sky. However at the Flora car park, where the wind could be felt, there was a quick conference and we decided to go over Lodestone rather than struggle up the Arthur Ridge. A very strong wind on the top of Lodestone and the clouded summits of Mt Arthur and Pearse Peak were confirmation that we had done the right thing. We had a late morning tea in the lee of the summit before putting on windproofs for the exposed descent to the bush above Flora, and a leisurely lunch by the hut. We then went up the track behind the Flora Hut to the Arthur Hut, still buffeted by the wind on all the exposed bits, and back to the car park where we met Carl and Co, the official Lodestone party. Twelve on the trip were David Blunt, Andy Clark, Colin Duncan, Mary Honey, Christine Hoy, Arthur Jonas (scribe), Yvonne Kyle, Brian McLean, David Nielsen, Margaret Page, Brian Renwick, and visitor Bernard Malloy.

8 January 2006 - Lodestone. Organiser: Carl Horn

It was another beautiful Nelson day, lots of sun, and on the mountain, lots of wind. What a windy day! We got to the top of the Mt Arthur road and parked about 9:30am. Then it was straight up. At times the slope seemed to be at least 45 degrees. There were some sections of relatively level track through the beech forest, but there were also some pretty steep sections, especially coming down the east side off the peak.

At the first outlook the view to the east was extraordinary. The air was clear and the view of the Nelson region was unhindered, all the way across the Motueka River to the Waimea plain to Tasman Bay. The view to the west was a steep mountain which beckoned us on. So up we went. We came out of the trees into scrub and then out of scrub onto the rock outcrops at the peak. The strong cold wind beat against us as we walked along the top ridge to the cairn. There was an antenna mounted on the peak, but I still don't know what that's all about. Then it was done the other side to the hut, and from there along the road to the parking lot. We got back about 3:30pm, and met the group which had climbed up onto the flanks of Mt Arthur.

We all had had a physically demanding tramp, but there was no whinging. We'd all had a fine time.

Party: Ross Price, Shirley de Groot, Margaret Edwards, Carl Horn.

14 January 2006 - Picnic Tea, Barnicoat Walkway. Organiser: Robyn Walsh

Despite there being only one other participant, as two others pulled out in the last hour, the late afternoon walk went ahead. We began at 5.50pm from the car park up Marsden Valley. We had lovely clear skies for the amble and with the sun beating in against the hill, it soon became a little hot. We took our time, having quick stops for water and to admire the view evolving as we climbed. A van-load of prospective paragliding clients drove past but half an hour later the van came back down. We soon discovered why when we got near the top at 7.30pm. Quite a cool northerly was blowing in. We found a sheltered sunny spot on the south side of some gorse and young douglas firs, above the road. Gavin had recently acquired a snazzy gadget (which he wore on his wrist) which showed our altitude. Also it had a flick up propellor to measure the windspeed. It showed we were around 615m - I think!

After we'd consumed our victuals, we started our descent at 8.45pm with the sun hovering over the Hope Range area. It had been quite cool for our tea stop but halfway down the air was noticeably warmer. We didn't need to use our torches as there was plenty of light, until the last few minutes before we got to the cars. We arrived back in the valley at 9.40pm after a nice evening's breather.

The evening ramblers: Gavin Holmwood and Robyn Walsh.

14-15 January 2006 - Kiwi Saddle/Patriarch. Cancelled due to weather.

15 January 2006 - Porter Rock. Organiser: Margot Syms
We met before the average Motuekan was out prowling the streets, but the "Red Shed" was open. Tony zoomed past on his motorcycle - add one to the trip numbers. And we reached Harwoods Hole carpark before the average Harwoods Holean......

Several of us managed to forget something - but a bit of buying, begging and borrowing en route fixed that and we were soon on our way. First across bush and farmed karst country to Wainui Saddle where we morning tea'd on the "log of 10,000 bottoms". It was pretty smooth anyway. Then up hill and onto a rolling plateau in bush containing many of the native cedars (Libocedrus sp). We lunched by the old Moa Park hut, which has been struck off DOC's loved list and is eking out its retirement. As yet we had not sighted our quarry. In fact we did not, until we bumped our noses on it, or should I say them. Surrounded by lush rata with young
red leaves and the odd flower starting, sat several huge rocks. Sculpturing by water over the ages provided a step to help us up and a full length reclined seat which delighted Simon. And, "you could see for bloody miles", well to Nelson and the Richmond Ranges - no one was trying to see the Bombay Hills anyway.
Then we headed resolutely for home, clocking up a few more bottoms at the saddle.
Party: Marianne Hermsen, Gretchen Williams, Tony Haddon, Mike & Hazel Blowers, Margot Syms, and visitor Simon Crowther. (And Peter Syms was lurking in the shrubbery doing orienteering mapping all the while.)

22 January 2006 - Rotoiti Circuit. Organiser: David Nielsen

This walk around Lake Rotoiti started at Kerr Bay then around to West Bay and across the Buller River, with morning tea being had somewhere just before Whisky Falls. On to Coldwater Hut where we saw ducks and black swans whilst we had our lunch break. It was here that the only plunge was taken with Michelle having a cooling swim. Having had lunch it was time to cross the Cold Water Stream and head on to Lake Head Hut. We had a lovely walk back down the lake to Kerr Bay with a very pleasant day being topped off with an icecream stop at the shop.

Party: Gillian Arbuthnott, visitors Michelle Cunningham and John Faber, and David Nielsen

22 January 2006 - Cowin Spur. Organiser: Andy Clark

According to the records, 7 years had elapsed since the last club trip to this area in the Baton valley. On a fine Sunday morning our group of 14 "mediocre" trampers were about to correct this. 4WD vehicles were found for all but 3 who walked the short distance to the start of the track after crossing the Baton river. As rumoured, the track had indeed been recut in recent times by DOC, with a fantastic job having been done from top to bottom.

Initially the track was rather steep, but once the main ridge was gained the gradient eased off slightly, which slowed the flow of gravy for all. Very good time was made on this good track to the bush edge with the whole group still together and going strong. The easy spur to the main ridge was accomplished at various speeds with all reaching the main ridge to explore views down into the headwaters of the Crow. Lunch was enjoyed by all and then it was with regret that we all had to descend back down the way we had come up. The knowledge of good campsites was filed away for future reference with reasonable water around the bush edge and above. All arrived at the cars in a tired but happy condition, apart from a few knee and cramp complaints.

The most rewarding experience for me was everyone making the distance in fine form with some digging deep to achieve our goal for the day. Not bad for a bunch of "mediocre" trampers who were - Christine Hoy, Dion Pont, Dan McGuire, Mary Honey, Ian Pavitt, Lindsay Twiname, Mark Graesser, Colin Duncan, Noel File, Mark Stevens, David Blunt and visitors Stuart and Bo.

28-31 January 2006 - Hellfire/Misery/Branch/Lees. Organiser: Ruth Hesselyn

Day 1 : Hellfire Creek to high tarn. We travelled to the Lees Creek carpark and donned our tramping gear and packs (too heavy), crossed the suspension bridge over the Wairau River, turned left and followed the true right of the river for a short distance before turning right into Hellfire Creek. Following the old track markers and Dion's freshly topiarised saplings, through several creek crossings, enduring stinging wasps, and rescuing a "cooee cooee" lost solo tramper (and forcing her to cross the river when she didn't want to), was just the sort of trip one envisaged with names like Hellfire and Misery. Anyway, things could only improve, couldn't they?

Onward and upward we climbed, in incredible heat, eventually reaching the bush edge where all concerned felt we needed a long rest and brew-up in preparation for the final climb through the tussock, exposed to the sun's rays. After a good hour's rest we all proceeded at our own pace along the open valley to our campsite by the high tarn. A great camp spot, great views, and a great meal really capped off a fine and interesting day.

Day 2 : To Misery Creek and then to Top Branch Bivvy. After a good night's sleep and in perfect conditions, apart from Mark's socks, it was a short climb to the ridgeline from our camp and the first pause of the morning to admire and photograph the 360° vista of surrounding countryside. From the ridgeline, a short sidle and then down tussocky slopes into the headwaters of the Misery Creek, dodging spaniards as we descended. Once again it was a scorching day and by the time we got to the valley floor, we were all glowing. The Top Misery Hut was reached in time for morning tea, where we all settled on the shady side of the hut enjoying our brew. A nice tidy 4-bunker hut and in good condition, and situated in a lovely tussock riverflat.

From here it was downhill, following the Misery Stream for the best part of 3 hours to the Lower Misery Hut where lunch was eagerly consumed. Everyone again resting in the shade, several taking plunges in the river in an attempt to cool off. From here it was a 3 hour walk up the Branch River and once again enduring stinging wasps. Lovely scenery along this valley: huge scree slopes and very high waterfalls. We reached the Top Branch Bivvy (2-bunk, good order) by early evening. Good campsites by the river with everyone enjoying a cooling dip before dinner. The tougher members of the group opted to camp out whilst two "select" members chose the more refined luxury accommodation of the bivvy.

Day 3 : To Lees Creek. After a good night's sleep, (and still having trouble with Mark's socks), it was a bush bash through the upper reaches of the Top Branch, staying high above the river to avoid the bluffs. Ably led by bushman-Bob, he found us more deer tracks than you could poke a stick at. He had us through the bush in just over an hour, unfortunately though we once again endured more wasp stings. Time for morning tea, which again was taken in the shade as Day 3 was going to be, yes you guessed it, another sizzler. We now had to pick a route up and over the intervening range to get to Lees Creek. The route chosen, the group set off up a creek bed which terminated in a rocky gut. While negotiating this gut, a rockfall occurred with a rock hitting Jeanette, causing a serious shoulder injury. After some time spent assisting, assessing, and discussing, it was decided to continue on. Jeanette's packload was shared amongst the group and she coped remarkably well for the rest of the trip. From here we had another hour's climb to reach the pass, where lunch was had. Again, wonderful weather and great views, although our mood was now somewhat subdued. Down some scree slopes and through some beech forest to the headwaters of the Lee Valley and then on further lower down to our campsite a kilometre or so above the Lees Creek Hut. (Continued next page...)

Day 4 : Out! After another good night's sleep (by this time Mark's socks had thankfully walked away by themselves) it was an easy ramble down the Lees Valley to our cars - and no wasps. Refreshments were enjoyed at St Arnaud, and all home by early afternoon.

Many thanks to Ruth for organising this trip through the wonderfully rugged Raglan Ranges.

Participants: Dion Pont, Bob Janssen, Carole Crocker, Mark-the-Sock Stevens, Alvin Johnston, Ian Pavitt (scribe), Nora Flight, Mike Drake, and visitor Jeanette Hansen.

28-30 January 2006 - Mt Fyffe/Hapuku River. Cancelled due to poor forecast.

4-6 February 2006 - Beyond Sawcut Gorge. Organiser: Tony Haddon.

The trip ran but only just. The three takers had a great wander around a bit of Marlborough back country although the planned gorge bash down the Ure gorge didn't eventuate because of the cold conditions. Next time! Party: Alison Nicoll, Gretchen Williams, Tony Haddon

5 February 2006 - Picnic Tea, Dun Mountain Walkway. Organiser: Robyn Walsh.

For my second twilight walk this summer, once again a small group: just 3 of us. Clouds were building up over the hills all afternoon but it was partially sunny and warm when we began our walk, right on 5.45pm. During the first hour we saw the occasional cyclist or lone runner but after that we were the only ones still up here.

As we got higher above Brook Valley, the air became cooler with quite a strong north-easterly in some places. We dispensed with the idea of having our tea at the picnic table because: a) it was too early - we'd only been walking for 1 hour; b) although good views, it was too exposed to the wind; c) the picnic table had been shunted to the other side of the track and was sloping uphill; d) the aforementioned table was falling to bits! (We did notice that a new concrete pad has been installed where the table once stood.)

Our gourmet stop was at the junction of the Brook-Fringe-Third House tracks at 7.30pm. No views but we were out of the wind and there was a nice evening atmosphere at the bush edge. Hec passed around some Grapetise to add to the evening's conviviality. During tea we noticed the air temperature had dropped quite a bit. Warm hats were donned and Hec complained of numb thumbs. Heck!

At 8.20pm, with the sun almost gone, we began the walk back. We had jackets, hats and even gloves on as it now felt quite chilly. The dusk stayed with us for quite a while. We didn't need our torches for most of the walk, until we got to the pine tree section. Hec's special torch did a great job for us all. As we got lower down in the Brook Valley, the air was a lot warmer. We arrived back at the car at 9.40pm

The evening was enjoyed by Hec and Gillian Arbuthnott, and Robyn Walsh.

6 February 2006 - Penzance/Elaine Bay. Organisers: S. Foga & John Lammin

Six members and four prospects met at the Penzance boat ramp car park. Ross decided to go out and return by the coastal track. The rest elected to go over the hill first. Some noted how Penzance village has grown in recent years, with houses now lining the road up to the track. There was also a new wire gate across the track with discouraging signs on it. Assured that the track was still open we continued up the hill, making it to the top before the real heat of the day hit. Two altimeters and eighteen legs confirmed that the track now climbs to 400m at its highest point. From the top we enjoyed picturesque views of the Sounds and out to sea before descending a somewhat loose track down to Elaine Bay.

On arrival we enjoyed a windswept lunch at the picnic area before returning around the coast. We took afternoon tea at Deep Bay but no one swam. Some were put off by the masses of wasps all around, others by the cold water. Luckily no one was stung and we enjoyed a peaceful return journey.

Participants: Ross Price, Beverley Muirhead, Rosemary Weir, David Blunt, Sharan Foga, John Lammin, and visitors Mary Ann and David Lawrence, Nigel Annable, and Val Latimer.

12 February 2006 - Moa Park/Wainui Hut. Organiser: Mary Honey.

Our limited faith in the weather forecast (early drizzle then clearing) was tested as we drove toward Harwood's Hole through pelting rain. However, by tramp start time, this had eased to dripple.

Wainui Hut provided a dry spot for morning tea. Given the wetness of the rooted track, we appreciated tramping up toward Evans Ridge, rather than down to the river. We lunched in a ray of sunshine on a carpet of dracophyllum leaves in the bush. At the junction of the Evans Ridge and Moa Park tracks, two of the party returned directly to the cars. The rest of the group dropped in on a sunny Moa Park before turning homeward.

A pleasant "poor weather day" circuit through interesting bush country.

Trampers: Shirley Gabrielson, Mark Graesser, Mary Honey, Christine Hoy, Dan McGuire, Beverley Muirhead, David Nielson, Lindsay Twiname, and visitor Joseph Hippolite.

12 February 2006 - Mt Baldy. Cancelled - river uncrossable due to rain.

18-19 February 2006 - Bristol Pass to Angelus. Organiser: Arthur Jonas

Only Margaret Page accompanied Yvonne Kyle and I on this trip and so by common consent we did it on Sunday/Monday rather than Saturday/Sunday. Because the route we took is not well traveled I will describe it some detail.

We left Mt Robert car park at 9am, had an uneventful trip to Speargrass Hut which we photographed for the last time ("If you need to stay at the Speargrass Hut it won't be there tomorrow night" paraphrasing the DOC receptionist at St Arnaud) because it is to be demolished for a new one, the piles for which are already in place.

From the hut we took the track to the Sabine until we reached the point where the track crosses the well-defined ridge between the Speargrass and the Howard Valleys. We joined the ridge on to the remnants of an old track through open bush. A couple of track markers from yesteryear proved that it had once been a route. After about a kilometer, during which the ridge became quite broad, and a 20 meter struggle through flax on a steep bit of hillside, we left the bush and reached, variously, snowgrass, tussock and scree. The ridge again became well defined until we reached the base of a broad tussock and scree covered face at which we had lunch.

The face presented a steady climb but at the top, a broad dome, we had the sight of both lakes, Rotoiti and Rotoroa from the same spot, surely the only place where this is possible!!

We walked to a low saddle leading to a short climb back on to the ridge which was now a series of rocky teeth, narrow but not difficult, leading to the T junction formed by wall around the northern side of Lake Angelus. We sidled round looking for a convenient place to drop into the Angelus Basin. A couple of likely looking spots were found to be still within the Speargrass Valley but we sidled further and climbed into a gap between rock pinnacles and were presented with the sight of the Angelus Lakes below us. We were short of the Bristol Pass, but what the heck! An easy descent and we arrived at the hut at about 3pm.

Next day we had a very relaxed walk along the Robert Ridge back to the car park. The weather throughout was perfect.

19 February 2006 - Nydia Saddle. Organiser: Andy Clark

Sunday dawned clear and beautiful. 8 am was departure time from the church steps and three car loads of trampers settled back to enjoy the pleasant drive over many hills to Duncan Bay. Team Leader Andy Clark briefed the group before the "above average" trampers made their way to Nydia Saddle at a leisurely pace.

Frequent stops were made to admire the flora and fauna. During the next couple of hours a continuous babble of voices was heard, dominated by team leader Andy drumming up support for running a guiding business.

Nydia Saddle was reached and a welcome lunch break was made. Thirteen pairs of feet stopped and were rested, as we sat and gazed down to Nydia Bay where the water sparkled and the invitation for a swim seemed to lure us - that would come later.

Lunch over we made our way back down towards the tide where some enjoyed a swim despite the lack of conventional swimwear. The waiting vehicles were reached, which by now resembled mini ovens so the love affair with the water continued and another swim was enjoyed.

A welcome diversion was made to the Rai Valley shop en route home where ice creams were the order of the day. We reached the church steps where we piled out, thanked our drivers, Andy Clark cementing his place as a good team leader who left the party even more enthused about the prospect of guiding. Thanks to all who joined the party for an enjoyable day.

Party: Dion Pont, David Nielson, Ross Price, Ian Pavitt, Lindsay Twiname, Trish Bennett, Noel File (scribe), Andy Clark, and visitors Sue and Andrew Lewis, Joseph Hippolite, Barbara Cummard, and Bob Olson.