Trip Reports, October-December 2011


  1. Mount Dora, Rainbow Valley
  2. Maitai Pipeline, Nelson
  3. Coldwater Hut, Nelson Lakes National Park
  4. Mount Cawte, Pelorus Sound, Marlborough
  5. Barnicoat Walkway, Nelson
  6. Red Hill, Mt Richmond Forest Park
  7. Boulder Bank, Nelson - BIG BEACH CLEAN-UP
  8. Mount Robert, Nelson Lakes National Park
  9. Kirwans Hill / Hut, Victoria Forest Park
  10. Jenkins Hill - Third House circuit Nelson
  11. Mount Richmond, Mt Richmond Forest Park
  12. Mount Mantell, Buller district
  13. Conical Hill, Nelson district

15 –16 October 2011 – Mt Dora (2167m) – Rainbow Valley
Leader: Mike Drake

With the expectation that the road through Rainbow Station to Lake Tennyson would be un-navigable I phoned the Rainbow Station to organise a key. Sure enough, I was advised that a large snow drift was blocking Island Saddle. I reserved a key anyway and put my thinking cap on. I eventually decided on Mt Dora, via Paske Hut. The weather indicated rain on Saturday and clearing Sunday morning, so everything looked fine.

What I didn’t figure was that the weather would not likely produce a frost, and that late in the season the ridge would be only partially covered with snow. Anyway, that was to come later.

So, on Saturday we proceeded down the Wairau, and then the trudge up the Rainbow River. Under a heavy sky and with one stop for lunch, we were soon heading up Paske Creek, into the rain but looking forward to getting a fire going in the hut.

On Sunday morning our weather window arrived early, and we were away, a little later than normal. Once on the snow in the valley heading towards Paske Saddle the rain and late season made for a slow walk up the valley. This was in marked contrast to the trip up Belvedere Peak, when my crampons were singing – no singing today. Us three blokes trudged along, converting Ruth’s “hare-like” impressions in the snow into Bigfoot steps. Once on the ridge we found ourselves picking our way through the rock and snow.

On the summit of Mt Dora we discussed our original plan of continuing to Mt Guinevere. This option was quickly discounted when we calculated that we would be arriving home about 11pm from our current position. So, down we went heading towards the spur coming up from behind the hut. However, on closer examination the ridge looked a little jagged, and not wanting to spend time navigating another ridge we headed down the adjacent valley.

A brew back at the hut, then a quick march out back to the vehicle, stopping once for some refreshments.

Next time, we need another day to summit Mt Guinevere, and more wintery conditions to get the crampons singing.

Thanks to the team (Ruth Hesselyn, Liam Sullivan, and Dave Quested (visitor)) for an enjoyable weekend at one of my favourite huts.

16 October – Maitai Pipeline – Nelson

Leader & scribe: Gretchen Williams

We parked the car at the usual place, just below the dam, walked over the bridge and turned right where the pipeline emerges out of the ground from the South Maitai (usually you would turn left to proceed to the Caves or Dun Mountain). It was an easy walk beside the pipe to the Jack’s Paddock turn-off, although we continued on for a nosey to see where the pipe (siphon) crosses the river, and to check out the new track being constructed from here to Smiths Ford Bridge in preparation for the road closure from this point up the valley for the laying of a new pipe along the road.

Back at Jack’s Paddock we crossed the river with the aid of sticks gleaned from fallen willows, walked along the road past the siphon and up a bit of a zig zag side road to meet the pipe again for morning tea. The next stage passed through some quite nice vegetation and gave good views down the valley – quite a different perspective from travelling in a car. When the pipe went steeply down to just above the Motor Camp we turned and came through Johnson’s property (braving their ‘nasty’ sheep) to walk the road before crossing the river again by the wee bridge over the pipe near the camp.

From here it was a really steep climb and then on to the Tantragee Saddle where we sighted the pipe going into the tunnel. We had lunch, then joined throngs of mountain bikers and headed up towards Sharlands Hill then back into the Maitai,. We bush-bashed through pine trees, admired a beautiful kowhai glade in full flower and alive with tui, and were back onto the road near Sunday Hole.

Members joining me were: Jim Maxwell and Alison Aaron. Visitors were: Hiroko, Marmi and Dongrui.

30 October – Coldwater Hut – Nelson Lakes NP

Leader & scribe: Gillian Arbuthnott

The meandering track through the bush, the tranquillity of Lake Rotoiti, the grandeur of steep peaks rising from the opposite shore, the torrent of water cascading through the air at Whisky Falls (the distillery remained elusive), the close encounter with a friendly kea at Coldwater Hut, purple fungi and vivid green Spring foliage and grasses glowing in the beech forest (great photo opportunities here), amiable company and conversation made for a satisfying day. Thank you to: Merrick Mitchell, Mike Locke & visitor Jean Pratt.

6 November – Mount Cawte – Pelorus Sound
Leader: Jim Maxwell

From the description I received about this walk I expected to be on a little-used rough track going up, and to be off track coming down. It’s not signposted but 50m up the track there is a visitor’s book box.

The track up is steep and well-maintained, leading to an observation clearing almost at the peak altitude with two picnic tables.

The view looks up Kaiuma Bay, across to Cullen Point and up Mahau Sound. The track was originally built by Outward Bound students for pest control and now the public are being encouraged to make use of it. The views are great from the clearing.

The track continuing on and over the summit is a little rougher and ends at the public road on the western side of the hill. We opted to return the way we came. Companions were Kelvin Drew and David Blunt.

13 November – Barnicoat Range – Nelson
Leader: Gillian Arbuthnott

From the top of Marsden Valley Road, we joined ascending and descending walkers along the service road to the crest of Barnicoat Hill, traversed the paragliders’ runway, slid sideways between a gate and the No.8 fencing wire or leapt nimble over a stile (ouch, one person who shall remain nameless fell flat on their back) and set off along the patchwork of forestry roads in a southerly direction to our destination: the fire lookout at Richmond Hill. The terrain is pleasantly undulating, bereft of any vegetation, shade or shelter so one is always at the mercy of the elements. However, our day was pleasantly mild, sunny and calm and the 360-degree views were perfect to share with several other walkers and clusters of mountain bikers.

Not all of the group made it to Richmond Hill, but after a lunch stop regrouping we were able to enjoy the 360-degree views in reverse, and whilst John and David conversed at length with two wind-challenged paragliders (watch this airspace) the rest of us reclined in the long, soft grass.

A brief sidle along another section of the service road brought us to the Barnicoat Walkway, which involved a rapid and steep descent to the service road and finally, like the Billy Goats Gruff, crossed the stream bridge which brought us to the carpark.

Thank you for your company: David Blunt, Emily Gee, Gillian Arbuthnott (scribe), Jim Maxwell, Mike Locke and visitor John Tolmie.

12–13 November 2011 – Red Hill (1790m) Mt Richmond Forest Park
Leader: Silvano Lorandi

When I suggested this trip, it was deemed to be too long for a two day tramp and I left open the possibility to have a second night in Hunters Hut for the participants less keen to walk out on the long second day. Well, we under-estimated the fitness and resilience of our members. Not only a good number of people joined this trip, eight, but also all of them reached the top and walked out to Inwoods Lookout late on Sunday night with a smile on their face ... or was it a tense expression of pain? Anyway, here is a brief report on two days spent up and down the hills with a great group of trampers.

We left Nelson Saturday morning with uncertain weather forecast for the day, they forecast rain in the morning and clearing in the afternoon. In fact it was pouring and we decided to take it easy very easy: first stop The Chateau Rhubarb in Wakefield for coffee and breakfast.

By the time we had had enough caffeine and were feeling bored being inside, the weather had changed .. now it was raining even harder! Luckily at the start of our tramp (at Inwoods Lookout) a couple of open sheds were perfect for changing into our rain gear. Even more luckily, it stopped raining so we actually had a semi-dry walk over North Peak and down to Hunters Hut, our base for the night.

Hunters Hut sits in a very picturesque location overlooking the left branch of the upper Motueka River valley. It has been just recently restored which makes it a very cosy hut. The afternoon saw a series of rain showers that gave us a good excuse to take it easy and rest for the next day's walk.

On Sunday the weather decided to follow the weather forecast and we had a wonderful day with sun and light winds. After an early start at 6am  we started scrambling up the tussock spur behind the hut towards some lovely tarns on the ridge. On reaching the ridge, Red Hill was clearly visible right in front of us and very close. However, it is unfortunately on the other side of the right branch of the Motueka River valley and that involves a long walk right around and along the ridge-line. Here, a suggestion was made from a member of the party: "Why don't we climb this hill right here in front of us which anyway looks the same?" But the group decided to be fair and honest, so we pushed ahead around the top of the valley towards our destination.

The last part of the climb to Red Hill involved negotiating three bowls. After two trips from this side I have come to the conclusion that the best route is to go straight toward the top by walking in and out of the bowls. Don't follow the ridge or cut across it is hard and slow travel on big boulders.

We returned to Hunters Hut by the same way and had a long rest at the hut before heading back up to the Northern knob, now at a slow pace and all walked-out in misty weather. More rain was on its way but it didn't matter as we had managed to have a lovely tramp ... though perhaps a bit too long.

The tramping world-team was: NZers Ruth Hesselyn, Gina Andrews and Mark Stevens, Englishman Peter Wilkie (visitor), German Markus Fisher (visitor), Italians Silvano Lorandi (leader & scribe), Donato Romanazzi and Matteo Bordini (visitor).

Inwoods lookout Hunters Hut: 4 hrs
Hunters Hut Red Hill: 4 hrs
Red Hill Hunters Hut: 3.5 hrs
Hunters Hut Inwoods Lookout: 5 hrs

19 November – Big Beach Cleanup – Boulder Bank
Leaders: Pat and Bob


What a stunning day weather wise, and a great result! According to Janice Gravett from DOC, three tonne less rubbish was collected compared to last year. Because of all your hard work we have 7.5 tonne less rubbish on our local beaches. That’s good news for our environment.

Our own twelve volunteers collected no less than 25 large black bags of rubbish in six hours.

Starting at the sewage ponds we beachcombed our way to the baches, collecting quite a few ‘treasures’ for ourselves as a bonus.

20 November – Mount Robert – Nelson Lakes National Park
Leader / Scribe: David Rae

The forecast for this day trip was for high winds at 2000m and rain in the afternoon so I was unsure whether to go or not. After checking the updated forecast, viewing the area from the TDC camera at St Arnaud and an early morning phone around, eight hardy souls were prepared to go- even if it could become a modified trip around Lake Rotoiti, if necessary.

Once we had arrived and assessed the weather situation, we all agreed to climb up to the Bushline Hut via the easier ascent near the lake in case the winds picked up. When we reached the bush line we were greeted with a gust of wind but this went as we carried up our steady way to the hut, where we had lunch. There had been great views on the way up but even better once we carried on along Paddy’s Track on the ridge towards Mt Robert.

It was like being on the roof of the world with a view over mountains in all directions!

Once we came to the junction with the Robert Ridge Route some of us carried along the route to a patch of snow- which we slid on. It’s surprising how fast you can go on plastic and how hard the low tussock grass run-off can be!

We returned via the Pinchgut track which also had great views, especially over the lake.

There was quite a lot of windfall once into the bush proper. I wouldn’t have liked to be there for that storm!

Trip participants were David and Hazel Rae, Gary and Sue Davies and grandson Sam, Gretchen Williams and Mike and Sue Locke. The children did really well. I was really pleased that we went despite the forecast as we had a really lovely day.

The rain came later!

26–27 November – Kirwans Hill – Victoria Forest Park
Leader: Uta Purcell

The weather cancelled the trip twice this year. After a lot of heavy rain it turned more promising, but only Merrick Mitchell was still able to come. We were joined by my daughter, Gisela, as a visitor.

The uphill walk on a well graded pack track through beech and podocarp forest seemed endless but easy, punctuated by some leisurely breaks and some gold mining relics. All streams were bridged, slips no obstacle, and as yet no mountain bikers hurtling down.

Settling into the hut meant some quick dinner preparations and then it was off to Kirwans Hill, as the views were still clear and cloud anticipated for the next day. Being on the open ridges with views in all directions was the perfect finish to a day that had already been quite satisfying. When we returned to the hut again at 8pm, mists settled all around us, followed by a clear, star-lit night. Kirwans Hut was built in 1988 and is still stunning. Next morning we could see the Main Divide from our bunks. Breakfast and photography took turns outside on the ‘lawn’. Mid-morning we left and had so many diversions on our descent that it took almost the same time as coming up = six hours. Gold prospectors really lived on this hill and we visited the site of an old miner’s hut, heaped with relics. A barefoot walker and four trampers were on their way up. With great hilarity it was established that Merrick had met a tramping couple previously on two separate tramps during the last three years. This lead to plans being made to combine for a tramp in the new year.

We had planned for three days away, but two days in good conditions fulfilled all our hopes.

27 November 2011 – Jenkins Hill – Third House circuit – Nelson
Leader: Gretchen Williams
We had a really nice day with lovely fine weather going...
– up the fire break along the western boundary of the Brook Sanctuary to Jenkins Hill
– along the ridge to Third House (marvelling at the wind fall from three years ago)
– down into the Sanctuary from Third House (an interesting descent and a fantastic alternative to the boring old Dun Walkway)
Walkers were: Val Latimer, David Sissons, Gretchen Williams.

3 December – Mount Richmond – Mt Richmond Forest Park
Leader: Dan McGuire

Nine stalwart trampers arrived at 7am for an assault on Mount Richmond, the second highest hill in the park of the same name.

Arriving at the top carpark to cloudy conditions, we set off as the weather deteriorated. There was drizzle well before we reached the hut. However, that did not deter most from going on after lunch to look at alpine plants, including North Island edelweiss in flower. Of course it began to clear as we descended, and we got some partial views.

Participants: Dan McGuire (leader), Tony and Gretchin, Liam Sullivan, Uta Purcell, John Faber, Calvin Drew, Durt Mullis (visitor) and Gina Andrews (visitor).

10–11 December – Mount Mantell – Buller district
Leader: Tony Haddon

Weather report, inclination, programme and Huey all combined into a wonderful Buller evening in tents on top of Mt Mantell. Great views, lovely country, lots of really good exercise.

The highlight was a bunch of no less than fifteen keas feeding in the carpet grass basin around our camp. Fortunately they weren’t interested in us after the initial commotion. The five participants were : David Sissons, Gretchen Williams, Kristi DuBois, Mark Graesser & Tony Haddon.

11 December 2011 – Conical Hill (1202m)
Leader: Sue Davies & Jim Maxwell

With transport organised, a party of nine met in Tapawera. A further 30 minutes drive through pine forest had us to a skid site where the marked track begins.

A good pace was set for the 800-metre slog up to the snowline ridge. The weather was doubtful and parkas were pulled from packs briefly at morning tea time.

Although mountain and valley views were not to be seen, the conditions on the ridge top at 1169m were calm and pleasant, with good visibility ahead. So, it was decided to continue the 45-minute ridgetop walk along a well-marked track to the top of Conical Hill - an open, alpine, rocky summit.

A well-earned lunch was enjoyed there before the return trip. The weather improved and lower valley views could be seen. A great day out through beautiful native forest, with abundant birdlife, was enjoyed by all. We were back to our cars at about 3.30pm.

Participants were: Jim Maxwell, Uta Purcell, Chris Louth, Jocelyn Winn, Marie Lenting, Maree McKay (first trip), Gary & Sue Davies (scribe) with their grandson Sam Pawley (12).









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