Trip Reports, June-August 2012

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  1. Mount Owen > Kahurangi National Park
  2. Goat Hill, Okiwi Bay > Marlborough
  3. Fringed Hill > Nelson
  4. Lyell Saddle Hut > Buller region
  5. Nydia Saddle > Marlborough Sounds
  6. Rabbit Island > Bike Ride & Ferry Trip
  7. Flanagans Hut – Kahurangi National Park
  8. Lees Creek Hut – Raglan Ranges
  9. Mt Malita – Roding River, Nelson

2-4 June 2012 – Mt Owen – Kahurangi National Park
Leader: Andy Clark

With projected numbers being around 15 at one stage for this trip, it was an assorted group of 10 that departed Richmond, for Courthouse Flat and the start of our trip. Even with the frosty start it did not take long for all to warm up with the steady climb to the top of the Staircase. With the day being perfect and a dodgy forecast for Sunday all chose to drop packs and climb Billies Knob. The breeze was slight, views stupendous and the sky blue – cameras worked overtime.

All descended safely and arrived at Granity Pass Hut late afternoon. As more people were coming and others were in residence, Wade, Chelsea and Sam did the noble thing and pitched their tent.

A merry, fun-filled and entertaining evening was spent with certain editions of hut magazines getting a hiding, storys told and facts quoted. All you non-believers, go and check out Mike the Headless Chicken on the Internet.

Sunday dawned cold, cloudy, with a misty drizzle. All battened down the hatches and commenced a hurried trip to the summit of Mt Owen (1875 m). Conditions were miserable the whole way, with the last 20 minutes a challenge due to iced over rocks.

Finally, the top was reached, hurried ‘inside of cloud’ photos taken and we were into our descent. Early afternoon saw us back at the hut to try and warm up – not the easiest with no fireplace. Hot drinks, dry clothes and warm sleeping bags helped. Late afternoon saw four explore the area around the hut finding small caves / shelters used by other visitors in bygone years. Another comical evening was spent with this hard-case group – all having a great time. What happens on the trip stays on the trip!

Monday – you guessed it – sunny! Most grabbed camera’s and headed for the missed views of yesterday. A short walk had us at the top of Sentinel Hill and many photos taken that should have been had the day before. Returning to Granity Pass Hut, we packed up and headed out, stopping at the ruins of Taplins Hut at the foot of the Staircase. All arrived safe and sound, if not a little corrupted, back at Courthouse Flat after a brilliant weekend in the hills.

Our hard-case group were: Andy Clark (scribe), Ray Caird, Pat Holland, Sue Henley, Kate Krawczyk, Wade and Chelsea Glover, Chris Louth, Andrea Cockerton and Sam Rayward.

9 June 2012 – Goat Hill - Okiwi Bay, Marlborough
Leader: Robyn Walsh

The morning was overcast and quite cold, as the four of us took off in Jim’s car for Okiwi Bay. After an hour we were on the saddle overlooking the bay. The track was ignored for a while as we headed into the village and checked out their conveniences (very nice,) and partook of our morning tea on the beachfront.

Next we drove back up to the saddle to start the Goat Hill track. A steady, gentle climb through open regrowth bush soon gave us a good view of the homes dotted around the hills.

An hour later, we arrived at the north-facing lookout. The sky had cleared beautifully to give us a warming sun as we ate lunch with a seaward view. But, a gusty wind freshened the air.

After lunch, we followed the track again as it meandered down the shady side to meet the road at the saddle. From here, Ted walked back to the car via the road while the remainder re-walked back along the track. As Ted predicted, the slippery clay track required some choreography to avoid slipping over.

On the return drive home we diverted to the Brick Oven Cafe in Rai Valley to enjoy Afghans, tea and icecream. A busy little place. Walkers were: Robyn Walsh (scribe), Jim Maxwell, Ted Brooks and Vivienne Lilley.

7 July 2012 – Fringed Hill – Nelson
Leader: Mary Honey

Four trampers arrived for a 9:00 a.m. start at the Brook Sanctuary and proceeded to Ferny Flat with a morning tea stop after the creek crossings. Lunch was in the sun at Third House and then afternoon tea at Fringed Hill.

The views were great with spectacular weather and we really felt we hadn’t done enough exercise when we arrived back at the Sanctuary.

Participants: Mary Honey (leader), Dan McGuire (navigator), Uta Purcell, and Judith Holmes (visitor).

8–9 July 2012 – Lyell Saddle Hut– Upper Buller region
Leader: Ray Salisbury

Ten hardy souls embarked on an adventure just south of Kahurangi National Park, in the thick of winter. (Actually, the Mokihinui catchment should be better protected by being incorporated into the National Park – it just avoided being dammed.)

The Old Ghost Road is a local initiative, carving an 80km cycle trail up the Lyell River, over the Lyell tops and down the legendary Mokihinui River to the coast near Sedonville.

I had cheekily emailed the head honcho of Lyell-Mohikinui Backcountry Trust, enquiring if we could use their hut. Jim MacIlray was most gracious and welcoming, and eventually it was agreed that we could stay over on a Sunday night between shifts. (Track workers were using this hut as a base from Monday to Saturday.)

For a few of the Vietnam Vets in our party, it was a bit of a boys’ reunion. Barry Pont had been in these parts before, and keenly pointed out the historic relics en route. There was Lyell, then Zalatown, then Gibbstown, with the odd bit of rusting iron about. Four ghost towns dot this waterway.

More impressive was the two-metre-wide mountain bike track carved into the steep hillside. Originally a dray road that had fallen into disrepair long ago, the locals from Westport have spent more than six months transforming this into a pathway of Great Walk standard.

After five cold hour’s amble up the easy path, once a miner’s pack track, we were glad to reach this comfortable hut, set into a forest clearing on the saddle, still surrounded in snow. The view north down into the Mok is spectacular.

Day Two saw us drop down to the Buller, as the temperature also plummetted. Two of the main track workers passed us on their ritzy orange trail bikes. (It only takes them an hour to zoom up their track to the hut.) We made a bee-line for the cafe in Murchison.

Walkers were: Ray Salisbury (scribe), Barry Pont (van driver), Chris Louth, Marie Lenting, Lawrie Halkett, with visitors Gina Andrews, Paul & Sue Henley, Kelvin Meame & Norm Lovelock.

For more info:

22 July 2012 – Nydia Saddle – Marlborough Sounds
Leader: Uta Purcell

On a foggy winter’s morning, five trampers drove with great expectations towards Tennyson Inlet. Approaching the Opouri Saddle, we had left the fog behind and gained a view. The road cuts through bush that is a promise of what is to come. From Duncan Bay we walked around the peninsular to the head of Ngawhakawhiti Bay.

The tide was in but we still had morning tea on the narrow strip of beach. This and the uphill walk to Nydia Saddle and a view down to Nydia Bay turned into a six hour appreciation of NZ bush.

We stopped frequently to enjoy and comment on the peaceful surroundings, the lush podocarp forest of great variety, and the views. On the track were numerous small, white, fluffy patches that intrigued us, looking rather like a fungus. The saddle greeted us with an easterly breeze.

We explored a little along the ridge, but then settled down for lunch below it and were joined by a lively group of women trampers who had come up from Nydia Bay. We returned the same way and considered ourselves lucky to do this in sunshine: Lou and Crissy Kolff, Maudy Barron (visitor), Jim Maxwell and Uta Purcell (scribe).

28 July 2012 – Bike Ride & Ferry Trip – Rabbit Island–Mapua
Leader: Lawrie Halkett

On Saturday morning, eight keen cyclists, and one very road smart dog Stella, marshalled at Lawrie’s place to cycle to Mapua.

The day proved to be more sunny than cloudy so made for a very comfortable ride. It was down through Richmond shopping centre on to the bike trail starting at the end of Beach Road. We all had a compulsory rest near the medium density fibre board factory while Mark gallantly fixed Bronwyn’s flat tire.

Back on to the highway to cross the dreaded Appleby River bridge (it will be marvelous once the Lower Queen Street cycle bridge is completed and this death trap on the Appleby highway can be avoided by cyclists) then on to Siegfried’s and out to Rabbit Island.

We all made it in time to catch the 11am boat, Flat-Bottom Fairy, across the estuary to Mapua, to the Naked Bun cafe for lunch.

After a leisurely three-hour break, it was back in the saddle retracing our bike tracks. Mark decided to take an alternate return route through the myriad of roads and tracks throughout the plantation forest on Rabbit Island. We gaily followed along.

It was very peaceful wending our way through the network of tracks and, with in-built GPS, Mark delivered us safely back on to the sealed road. We all pointed our wheels homeward.

It was a very enjoyable outin. All agreed the next cycle touring target would be Wakefield and the new cycle bridge at Brightwater.

Footnote: Bronwyn was very pleased with herself as she declared that cycling to Mapua was the longest bike ride she had ever done - congratulations Bronwyn!

The bunch included Mark and Bronwyn Stevens, Marijke Boers and Stella (what an amazing girl; she padded her way all the way out to Mapua, from Nelson and back again), Andrea, Damian (guest), Alice, Lawrie (scribe) and Kaye Halkett.

Further info on ferry bookings:


Phone: (027) 4633 779

30 June–1 July 2012 – Flanagans Hut – Kahurangi National Park
Leader: Silvano Lorandi

It was intended to be Mount Luna but a landslide on the Wangapeka Road forced us to find an alternative destination.

Would you go tramping in the middle of winter in the depth of a valley where the sun eludes you for the whole day, though it shines on the mountain tops all around you?

What about if it was during a cold spell of weather, when heavy frosts cover the bush and make the fern-trees look like a Kiwi christmas tree covered with glitter? What if this tramping would involve crossing a deep river of freezing water, not just once but many times... would you still go?

Well, there must be lots of tramping enthusiasts (or naive or simply mad people) in Nelson because at the end of June a group of seven of us got together to walk to Flanagans Hut from the Baton Valley.

It was cold, wet and in the shade for two days. Apart from all of these minor inconveniences it was a beautiful walk in a superb valley, lush with green bush and an unspoiled river where two whio shared brief moments with us.

Flanagans Hut was comfortable and warm thanks to plenty of good quality firewood. Needless to say, there were just us.

On Sunday we tried to reach Baton Saddle (and the sunshine).

However, the snow and the timeframe of the day didn’t allow us.

We leave you one solitary reason for repeating this tramp – try it in summer!

Participants: Silvano Lorandi (scribe), Andrea Cockerton, Kate Krawczyk, Chris Lowth, Mike Drake, Pat Holland & Peter Wilkie.

28–29 July 2012 – Lees Creek Hut – Raglan Ranges
Leader: Dion Pont

We were told that the Rainbow-Hanmer Road was closed, so we drove up the Leatham Valley, finding the roads very icy.

At Boulder Stream, the ford was badly damaged, requiring an effort to cross. The passengers seemed to enjoy this rough four-wheel-driving in the streams. The next major side-stream was worse - 3m across, 2m deep. We couldn’t go much further up the Leatham than past the first hut.

We then decided to travel up the Branch valley, driving up as far as Silverstream. With packs on, we set off. Then Dion fell over and banged his knee - hard.

This changed our plans, and we settled for reaching Griegs Hut, some 2.5 hours walk away. Back inside the ute, we found another side-stream unpassable.

Fourth-time lucky, we decided to try the Rainbow valley, and head for Lees Creek Hut. From Six-Mile Stream, we walked to Rainbow Station gate, which was damaged, and reached the swingbridge at Lees Creek.

An hour up river flats, close to dusk on an icy track, we could smell woodsmoke. 15 minutes later we arrived to greet a family of three (which meant squeezing six into a four-bunk hut!)

Next morning, with fresh snow on the ground, we did a recce for 3km up-valley. After lunch we returned to the ute.

An adventurous weekend was had by: Dion Pont (scribe), Kate Krawczyk and Sue Henley.

5 August 2012 – Mt Malita – Nelson
Leader: Katie Cloughley

There are at least two other routes to the top of Mt Malita, but the straighforward forestry road did the trick for our group of eleven trampers.

Dan went the extra distance to check-in at the caretaker’s house. (Gretchen and Elizabeth did the honours on returning.)

The weather was very pleasant (cloudy with an icreasing hint of blue sky) – a welcome respite after the previous several days of rain.

A fine view was promised to those who’d never been there before. Alas, no sooner were we clear of the trees and into the tussocks, than down came the cloud. (At least it did not rain, and was relatively mild.)

Lunch was a pleasant break, albeit with no view, but spiced with the banter of foreign accents.

Then it was back down the hill to the cars by 2pm.

Club members were: Dan McGuire, Gretchen Williams, Katie Cloughley (scribe). WTC members were: Don & Nicola Morrisey with son Thomas. Visitors were: Elizabeth Dooley, Ian & Margaret Poole and Thomas Quinn-Gregson.

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