Trip Reports

7-8 August 2005 - Porters Hut – Red Hills. Organiser (but non tramper): Andy Clark

I’d heard the odd story or two from ex pest control / deer cullers: “the Red Hills are hard country, hard on the boots, hard on the dogs – you have to wrap the dogs’ paws to stop them getting ripped”. Hard to imagine as we headed off from Red Hills Hut, the distinct line of beech forest on the west side of the valley and the supposed tussock covered ridges and spurs to the east of the valley.

The day’s tramping was good, a bit of bog and ice, but generally easy travel. Lunch was two hours in, just across from the old Maitland Hut site, followed with a climb up and over into the Porter/Lowther Creek junction. The track continued up the Lowther Creek bed for a short time before heading up and around a large slip. This final climb is marked, but look carefully as it does go up and over the slip not across. (Rumour has it that a few people have spat the dummy at this stage and headed back to Red Hills Hut.)

Five hours of walking and Porters Hut came into view, giving our party plenty of time to boil the billy, sit in the sun and give Grahame more time to consider his theory about weight gain/loss and distribution. The grade 3 trip had obviously been hijacked by driving a 4WD up to Red Hills Hut rather than walking from the Cob Cottage.

Sunday morning started with Grahame cracking the whip, due to younger members of the party procrastinating. We sidled from Porters Hut gaining just enough height to cross the Lowther River where it branches into two. Following up the south branch, height was gained efficiently with only a few interesting manoeuvres and complementary rocks! At approximately 1300m we climbed out of the river bed on the true left and headed up through the rock and tussock toward point 1680.

Despite poor visibility, firm snow meant easy travel while sidling along the ridge past Porters Peak and Point 1566. And not long after passing 1566 we headed west along a spur that in theory would give easy access down into the Maitland River. This spur gave full meaning to the term Ultramafic Rock! It was a spur of gritty, uneven rock, sometimes hidden, sometimes not. So much for visions of easy travel on tussock tops.

In the end we just accepted it was near impossible to get a rhythm and thought uncharming thoughts of Grahame, because he’d talked us into it, or should we have blamed Andy the Leader who did a runner before the weekend even started. There were some remains of an old track on the lower end of the spur and between using this and pushing through a bit a scrub we arrived at the Maitland Hut site after 5.5 hours.

The rest of the trip of course was a lot easier on the feet and by 4.33pm the car was reached and our party homeward bound . Party members – Grahame Harris, Mike Marren, and Marguerite Verheul (scribe).
13-14 August 2005 - Cotterell Peak. Organiser: Ruth Hesselyn

To climb or not to climb. That is the question…..!

A 7.30am, a phone call to Rainbow Station confirmed that the weather was clearing. Well, the sleet started near Tophouse and it was snowing heavily by the time we reached the junction. A right hand turn saw us at St Arnaud, instead of a left to the Hamilton River and a chilly camp at the bush line.

The Visitor Centre was duly looked at, coffees considered, and joining the other group at The Yellow House discussed. Heading home was the reality, so we finished the Saturday drive with a round trip out via Kawatiri.

The thwarted trampers were: Carole Crocker, Dion Pont, Mark Stevens, and Mike Drake.
13-14 August 2005 - Beebys Knob/Parachute Rock. Organiser: Kathy Harrison

Leaving Nelson at 8am, we drove up to the lakes and whilst driving it started to snow. Great scenery at the lakes, just beautiful. We checked in to our Yellow House accommodation where the fire was going to keep us warm. After waiting around for it to stop snowing, we headed up Parachute Rock. Very wet and cold with a lot of snow on the track, on the trees, and falling on our heads. We only got as far as the ridge and decided to head back to our cosy accommodation. Got some great photos early on of the lake with all the snow about. I had arranged for everybody to bring a pot luck dinner. Christine organised the dinner while the rest of us had a lovely hot spa, then enjoyed the evening feeling very warm and happy. Sunday’s weather wasn't great but we all headed to Beeby's Knob. Lots of snow and very deep further up. Some of us had a snow fight and then headed back early as the weather wasn't the best up there. When we got back to the car the weather had improved. We ended the day with afternoon tea at Top House. A great two days away.

Party: David Blunt, Christine Hoy, Kathy Harrison, and visitors Trudi Knighton and Kath Greig.
20-21 August 2005 - Social Weekend. Cancelled. 27-28 August 2005 - Mt Cupola (2260m). Organiser: Mike Drake.

A mid-week surprise call from the Wellington Tramping & Mountaineering Club (WTMC) advised me that they were heading to Cupola Hut at the weekend, staying Saturday and Sunday nights. Our Mt Cupola summit team was identified, and discussion ensued. A high pressure system developing in the Tasman, with the promise of fine weather on Monday suggested a plan. We would overnight Cupola Hut on Sunday, with the WTMC agreeing to spend Sunday at John Tait. On Monday we would summit and head out.

On Sunday, we slowly made our way to Cupola Hut to give the WTMC time to decamp. We even loaded ourselves up with coal and wood at John Tait, plus collected branches to further slow our progress up the hill. On arrival at Cupola we found two trampers, but no WTMC people. Tiny figures were spotted way in the distance making their way from Hopeless Couloir. Dinner was prepared and a billy put on for the WTMC group. We formulated a Plan “B” to give WTMC the option of staying in the hut (15 into 8 bunks!). However, they refused our plan (thankfully), and after a hot drink headed down to John Tait in the dark.

Soft snow has been the theme for trips this “winter”. Despite a developing high with the promise of crisp nights, an early Monday morning call-of-nature found no stars, and no shivering (me). Soft snow was going to be the order of the day, this would put pressure on our conservative timescale of 12 hours to reach the summit and walk back to Coldwater Hut for the water taxis at 18:00. Carole’s daughter Tammy didn’t intend to climb Cupola and so she would be able to advise the water taxis that we hadn’t forgotten the 18:00 booking, although she had no idea when we would arrive at Coldwater Hut.

At 06:00 we left the hut and shortly reached the snow, and found it duly soft. Ruth went into the lead (situation normal) leaving shallow indentations in the snow. The heavier members of the team plodded behind, converting these indentations into chasms at every stride. We stumbled on, the snow coming up to our calves at best, often to our knees, and occasionally to thigh. The moral is very clear; lose weight, grow bigger feet (or both), or acquire snow shoes to “walk on snow”.

Patience, persistence, and motivation, plus a little rope work saw us on the summit at 10:45. Photos were taken, and down we went, with a race to catch the taxis. A normal joyful retreat on snow was somewhat dampened by the soft snow. Descent was slow, with the occasional bum slide, though not elegant, giving the knees a rest from the continual wrenching. The race continued along the valley floor, all the team reaching Coldwater Hut by 18:25.

Thanks to the team for a tough but enjoyable two days. Also thanks to the WTMC for dropping down to John Tait in the dark after a hard day. Also, thanks to Bill the patient water taxi person. The team: Shirley Arnst, Ruth Hesselyn, Carole Crocker, Tammy Crocker, and Mark Stevens.

Photos : http://www.mike.foodmanagement.co.nz/Mt Cupola 2/index.html
28 August 2005 - The Doubles. Organiser: Carl Horn.

This tramp was different. Instead of a few friends, it was a crowd. When we gathered together at Teal Saddle, there were 23 of us. It was great! It was another beautiful clear warm Nelson day with excellent visibility.

A short distance up a logging road we turned off onto the bottom of the zig-zag. Some masochistic tramper had numbered all the zig and zag signs. As we climbed up we counted down. It was both encouraging while intimidating. It wasn’t long before Group A formed, anxious to be free of the leash tied to Group B. Off they went, quickly around the next zig (or was it a zag?) and soon lost to sight and sound.

Group B eventually found itself in a clearing from which there was no more “up”. We had arrived at the top of the south peak of the two peaks called “The Doubles”. We had lunch here but due to the tall trees around the clearing, there were no views. The rest of the day was all downhill. We descended another zig-zag track to Maungatapu Saddle. After a brief stop at the Saddle to enjoy the view east to Pelorus and west to the Maitai, we proceeded down the Maungatapu Track (which doubles as a 4WD “road”) to the Maitai reservoir, and eventually back to the cars.

It is extraordinary to have such country so very close to our homes. We all had a first-class day.

“Group A” report : After morning tea, the group split and the Saddle Hill group proceeded to the top of the first Double. This track was in need of some TLC as it had become overgrown and pigs had caused considerable damage. At the top a slight unintentional detour was taken as the group mistakenly headed off down the Maungatapu Track. The mistake was soon realised and the group retraced its steps back up to the top again. Now on the right track, it was a 20 minute descent to a muddy-looking tarn and then up again for approximately an hour to the top of Saddle Hill (the second Double) where we emerged to a cold wind but good views. Lunch was partaken then we headed down the Waterfall Track the lower portion of which is also overgrown. We emerged on to the forestry road for a simple 4km foot slog along the road back to the cars.

Party: David Blunt, Tony Haddon, Karen Wardell, Ian Pavitt, Colin Duncan, Uta Purcell, Mary Honey, Gretchen Willliams, Arthur Jonas, Dan McGuire, Shirley Gabrielsen, Christine Hoy, Grahame Harris, John Olykan, David Nielsen, Yvonne Kyle, Carl Horn, and visitors David McLeod, Shirley Ryan, Edmond Brylkowski, Heidi Shirley, Val Latimer, and Phil Booth.
3-4 September 2005 - Hunters Hut. Organiser: Andy Clark.

A fine group of 8 assembled for this trip into Hunters Hut in the headwaters of the Motueka River, a new area for some including the leader. Walking commenced from Inwoods Lookout climbing steadily to the main ridge to the north of North Peak. It was decided not to climb North Peak as most wanted to explore further from Hunters Hut later that afternoon. A steep descent had us down at the Motueka River and safely across with a short climb following to Hunters Hut, arriving mid afternoon.

Smoko was enjoyed, prime campsites located for those tenting and then 5 of the group headed on towards Porters Hut for an hour each way for a look. Most enjoyable. Arthur had the fire going, meals were enjoyed and stories told.

Following rude awakenings from the local weka’s, goodbyes were said to Arthur and Yvonne who were heading on out via a night at Porters Hut. A collection of rubbish and empty wine bottles left by other thoughtless trampers was loaded into packs and the rest of us rattled on out of there. The steep climb had most working pretty hard with the main ridge gained reasonably quickly, cloud cover hiding any views. Cars were reached and all arrived home safely. It was most pleasurable to have the company of Ian Pavitt, Lindsay Twiname, Uta Purcell, Ross Price, Jocelyn Winn, Arthur Jonas and Yvonne Kyle.
4 September 2005 - Browning & Hacket Huts. Organiser: Gillian Arbuthnott

Deep pools of clear green water and the variety of terrain must surely be the tramper’s most vivid impressions of the Hackett Valley. Flowering prunus dotted along the river bank softened the ugly evidence of deforestation as we set off along the well-trodden track which meanders its way through an amazing variety of scenery in such a compact area; ranging from hillsides clad in pine forest to dry scrubby vegetation which survives amidst interesting geological formations. The grassy plateau of the Hackett Hut set the scene for morning tea and then it was onwards and upwards - those who chose the steep uphill track in preference to the lower level’s muddy track and water crossings, commented on the fascinating kidney ferns - through archetypal New Zealand bush to the Browning Hut for lunch. Our descent along the western side of the river necessitated more stream crossings, and slippery rocks required a rise in the level of concentration in order to further avoid wet feet and trousers. The short homeward journey rounded off a satisfying and enjoyable day.

Hackett Hackers: Cathy Worthy, Dan McGuire, David Nielsen, Gillian Arbuthnott, Hec Arbuthnott, Shirley Gabrielsen, and visitors Sue Henson, Willy Stewart, and Heidi Shirley.
10-11 September 2005 - Mt Chittenden. Organiser: Steve McGlone

Lovely weather for this weekend jaunt up the Connor's Creek to camp and subsequently climb Mt Chittenden. Sadly Ruth Hesselyn was unable to lead this trip, but very kindly talked me through a suitable route up that peak with the aid of a photograph to guide our small party. We got a leisurely start around 8-ish Saturday morning, stopped at Rainbow Station for the gate key and had a pleasant stroll to the bushline up Connor's Creek. It's a lovely valley - pleasantly open mossy forest and a charming clear rocky stream. Up valley we fossicked around for suitably flat/soft campsites, the sun was soon getting lower on the horizon and the chill coming on. Warm clothes and a brew and hot food soon followed with an early exodus to the tents.

Slept soundly and woke 5am to perfect weather to be away before 6. Just Bill and I wandered up a rock and scree-lined gully to gain the gentler and snowy slopes above. The route involved a moderately lengthy traverse across the hills to make the final ascent to the summit. Of course from half way up, the tops looked considerably different and Bill and I found ourselves at the head of a snow gully below the summit of something with only a short but scrabbly exposed rock route to the top. It clearly wasn't the peak we were looking for, so... down again.. across a bit and aha! the true summit in sight at last and considerably easier to get up besides. Lovely view from the top - the snow by now considerably softened after initially acceptable cramponing. A bit of a snack, some photos, a series of glissades to the bottom and hey presto, back down to see Grahame by 11.30am. He'd had a wander up the headwaters of the creek doing battle with speargrass and steep snow without crampons and beat a dignified retreat.

A bit of tent packing and a pleasant wander back down valley and we were back out by a very respectable mid afternoon for the drive back to Nelson. A most idyllic and easy going weekend jaunt.

Our party were: Steve McGlone, Grahame Harris, and visitor Bill Brough.
11 September 2005 - Dun Saddle/Dun Mountain. Organiser: Christine Hoy

Sunday morning dawned fine and warm as six trampers gathered at the Cathedral Steps in Nelson. From here we drove up the Maitai Valley to the dam where we met up with Andy who had set off somewhat earlier in the day on his bike. Taking the foot bridge across the river so as to keep our feet dry, we set off up the ridge track towards Dun Mountain, stopping off at a vantage point for morning tea. The conditions were very hot as we plodded up to the saddle where a cool breeze soon sent us scurrying along to the little green hut where we decided to have our lunch. A flurry of low cloud floated overhead as we took off for the summit of Dun from where excellent views were obtained around the region. Dropping off Dun down to the saddle, we grunted our way up to Little Twin which is always a bit of a workout. As we were descending Dun we were overtaken by three mountain bikers. They were a little slow navigating this point but soon left us in a cloud of dust. How they circumnavigated this route without breaking their necks was a bit of a mystery to us. From Little Twin we ambled leisurely along to the Rush Pool/ Dew Lakes turn off point. Several of the group went along to explore the lakes while the others headed down to the Rush Pool where they waited for the explorers to return. From here it was a pleasant amble back down to the car park, arriving there at about 3.45pm. If there was such a thing as a ’’classic“ day walk, I think that this walk would rate very highly.

Thanks to Uta Purcell, Dan McGuire, Jocelyn Winn, Mary Honey, Andy Clark, and visitor Joe Carson for a most pleasant amble in the sunny hills of Nelson.
18 September 2005 - Brooklyn Valley Mountain Cabin.
18 September 2005 - Ben Nevis.

Both trips cancelled.
25 September 2005 - Pearse Peak. Organiser: Grahame Harris.

We stepped out to the Mt Arthur Hut, meeting a few patches of melting snow on the track, and stopped there for shortly-after-tenses. Then armed with crampons and ice-axes (not at the ready) but swathed in warm clothes we ventured up above the hut. There was little snow on the ground but the cloud was down onto the main ridge above and there was a strong icy wind blowing - so strong that it almost stopped some of the lighter trampers in their tracks at times. Part way along the first ridge we decided that in the view of the forecast for bad weather in the afternoon we could not expect any abatement of the wind, so we back-tracked and headed down the side track to the Flora Hut. Just inside the bushline, Jocelyn introduced us to the site of the old Dog Kennel Hut - now removed - and then it was down to Flora Hut for lunch. Then back to the cars - the wind appeared to have eased a bit but the clouds were even lower. Too bad - home early to almost-sunny Nelson. (Locked out, remove funnier-looking clothes and go to store for ice-cream, sit in garden to eat it, pull a few weeds, ah here they are, must remember a key next time.)

Party: Uta Purcell, Gretchen Williams, Kathy Harrison, Arthur Jonas, Bob Janssen, Jocelyn Winn, Grahame Harris.
25 September 2005 - North Peak/Gordons Knob. Organiser: Alison Nicoll.

Ten determined and intrepid trampers tackled the North Peak with threatening weather and gusty south westerlies in the tops.

Leaning sideways to counteract the strong wind gusts as we crossed the ridges we battled on until just before the crossing to the right (towards North Peak). Here we sought shelter just over the edge, away from the wind for a refreshing cuppa and to enjoy the views out to the Tasman Sea and back over the Golden Downs ridges. Gordon’s Knob was enveloped in cloud and the North Peak disappearing and reappearing at intervals as the clouds scudded overhead. After some discussion, all except Chris and Steve Hopkins decided on returning to the vehicles and to try for the peak again on a better day. It was a great test of our windproof gear but also great to be up in the alpine zone. It was decided to stop at the Rhubarb Café for companionable discussions and to further get to know each other as the time was about 1.30pm. Altogether we tramped for 3.5 hours which was enough for a good blow-out and the time for socialising was a bonus. Steve and Chris gave up just prior to the peak in dense cloud and were disappointed when they got back to the bush line and looked up to see North Peak, inviting and clear!

Party: Chris & Steve Hopkins, Gillian Arbuthnott, Margaret Page, Ruth Hesselyn, Alison Nicoll, and visitors Chris Fraser, Lyn King, Katherine Randall, and René Visser.
2 October 2005 - Grunt Trapping Line, St Arnaud Ridge. Organiser: Jocelyn Winn.

Lake Rotoiti lay motionless on a calm cloudy morning as we ambled from Kerr Bay to our creek half an hour along the eastern shore. A short distance upstream we were into the bush following the blue markers towards the St Arnaud Range. We paused at the waterfall, which Grahame and Arthur remembered passing a few years ago. Soon after, we began to realise why this trapping line has been named the “Grunt” by DOC workers. Occasionally, we heard kaka screeches. Up on the ridge, a cold mist swirled obscuring our distant views but we looked down the partly snow-covered eastern slopes to the tarns nestled in their basins. Then, on the dominant peak, locally named “No Catch ‘Em”, we met Yvonne with grand-daughter Natasha, who had come to meet us from the usual Parachute Rock track. As we descended off the ridge we could see the sun shining below on the farmland and lake. Some of us took a few steps off track to investigate the locked DOC hut hidden in the bush. We had had a glimpse of its roof from the Grunt spur. Back to the cars and we had completed our 6 hour round trip.

On the trip were the No Catch Em duo: Yvonne Kyle and Natasha (a budding apprentice tramper); and the Grunters: Arthur Jonas, Colin Duncan, Grahame Harris, Christine Hoy, and Jocelyn Winn.
2 October 2005 - Lake Rotoroa Tracks. Organiser: Trish Bennett.

We arrived at Lake Rotoroa after a pleasant drive from Nelson and on arrival saw a swan with about 7 signets. Some of us managed to take photos of them, they were so fluffy and cute.

First, we found the Braeburn Track which leads to a waterfall. There had obviously been some rain as the track was rather wet. After morning tea we returned on the loop track.

The Porika Track was a lot steeper. We arrived at the top about 12.45 but were disappointed as the view was blocked by cloud. On our return one of our adventurous participants (Shirley Gabrielsen) suggested we went off route on to a stock track which was laden with a leafy carpet and very spongy. We saw many different types of lichen and moss. It was no time before we came back to the 4WD track.

On arrival back to the lake we were soon smothered with sandflies. A decision was made to stop off at the Rhubarb Café in Wakefield for afternoon tea.

Participants were: Margaret Edwards, Shirley de Groot, Shirley Gabrielsen, Gillian Arbuthnott, Denis Parnell, David Blunt, Ross Price, Trish Bennett, and visitors, Jenny Simmons, Lyn King, and John Faber.
9 October 2005 - Mt Murchison. Organiser: Tony Haddon.

Five vehicles converge at the foot of the Mt Murchison access road. Eighteen people trudge up the ultimately snowy incline. The summit is almost viewless, white, breezy, chilly, and tuneful with ice falling down the radio tower. It is almost too cold for a snowball fight. The grade 3’ers abandon any idea of a traverse and join the grade 2’ers in beating a retreat back down the road, and all of us joined by six kaka which followed us down.
Party: David Blunt, Noel & Sheryl File, Grahame Harris, Tony Haddon, Mary Honey, Steve & Christine Hopkins, Beverley Muirhead, Barry & Dion Pont, Ross Price, Uta Purcell, Margot Syms, Gretchen Williams, and visitors René Visser, Karen Russell, and Brian Collins.
9 October 2005 - Wooded Peak. Organiser: Dan McGuire.

A fine day in Nelson saw six stalwart trampers tackle Wooded Peak from the Maitai Valley. We ascended from the valley by way of an unmarked ridge which rises sharply, giving a good outlook over the valley and out to the Glen, the Dun and Mt Richmond. Coming back to the Dun by way of Sunrise Ridge, we encountered two pig families with three piglets each.

Participants: Brian McLean, Arthur Jonas, Yvonne Kyle, Christine Hoy, Dan McGuire, and visitor Bernard.