Trip Reports, February-April 2013

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  1. Mts Lodestone & Hodder > Arthur Range, Kahurangi NP
  2. Mt Campbell-Flora X-Over > Arthur Range, Kahurangi NP
  3. Trig K > Pelorus River – Marlborough<
  4. Beebys Knob > Mt Richmond FP
  5. Hope & Doubtful valleys > Lake Sumner Forest Park & Lewis Pass National Reserve
  6. Commentary Cave > Upper Takaka, Golden Bay

10 March 2013 – Lodestone & Hodder – Kahurangi NP
Leader: Chris Louth

It was yet another glorious morning as we left Flora carpark for the first section of what would end up being a fairly long day.
At the summit of Mt Lodestone we stopped to regroup and recover and bask in the sunshine. From here we could clearly see the way ahead, down to a saddle then up to the multi-peaks of Mt Hodder.
Friends of Flora had been active, and at the bush-edge we picked up a trapline that led down through the beech, with one very steep section, then up through the stunted growth to the summit.
Here we assessed how everyone was feeling to determine which of the three route options we would follow. It was decided to follow the original plan and descend an unknown (to us) and untracked ridge down to the Upper Takaka track below Lower Junction.
The trapline continued over the summit then dived off to the left, so with Andrea on compass duty and with the aid of some US military space junk we took a bearing and began the descent.
One of the party was having trouble with the terrain, so the going was fairly slow. After about three hours of careful navigation to avoid taking a side spur, we arrived at the junction of Ghost Creek and the Upper Takaka track.
After a food and drink break, we set off at a brisker pace. We had been on the move for over six hours and we still had about 12km to go, up through Lower and Upper Junctions and back to the cars. We passed quite a few people on the tracks, all taking advantage of the superb weather.
At Flora hut we stopped and admired the club’s handiwork from the previous weekend. It was nice to see family groups in both ends, though DoC had not yet attended to the roofing screws that were protruding above the top bunks, waiting to impale some unsuspecting head.
Ten hours after leaving the carpark we finally arrived back. Participants were Sue Henley, Andrea Cockerton, Lou Kolff, Tessa Caunter (visitor) & Chris Louth (scribe).

16 March 2013 – Crossover: Mt. Campbell–Flora Carpark – Arthur Range, Kahurangi National Park
Leader: Lawrie Halkett

If you were lucky enough to start from Mt. Campbell then the southward-heading traverse group only had 1,650 me-ters to climb that day (the thankful few were Mark Stevens, Pete Wilkie, Lawrie Halkett with guests Ian Soult & Sue Marren.
The more hardy Flora Group (Mike Drake, Liam Sullivan, Stephen Alder & Marie Firth) had an additional 350 metres to ascend. The saving grace was that it was spread out over 15 kilometres of beautiful ridge-top saunter-ing, with ascending and descending coming in regular lumps, some steeper than others. The day could not have been more perfect, as just after daybreak, both parties met at the Ngatimoti Hall, wished each other a safe journey and headed off in high spirits.
The Mt Campbell group drove up through Rocky River Forest, through the locked gate onward to the very summit of Mt Campbell. The view was amazing – clear views out west to Golden Bay, then swinging in an arc to the south and east, Mt Snowden, the Sylvester Lakes, the Tableland, Nelson Lakes, the very tips of the Richmond Range, afar off to the east: Mt Tapuae-O-uenuku and Mt Alarm.
The sky was a mix of very high wispy cloud and patches of blue, while below the Waimea Plains was swathed in cotton wool and remained that way all day; winds were light.
We set forth bang on 8am and headed due south, down hill, thinking all the time of our Flora Carpark team-mates that would have started their day with a long slog up to Lodestone (some people are just born tough, eh!).
We rendezvoused at the halfway mark with the southern team on top of Crusader, having arrived half an hour be-fore our party, which was clawing their way up.
It was great to meet Mike and his team. They looked amazingly fresh, while some of us had the appearance of be-ing dragged backwards through several gorse bushes, as we clasped copious patches of Spaniard while ascending to our lunch spot.
The Mt Campbell team wished them all the best as they disappeared over the edge of Crusader, and, to a person, we all thought “rather them than us” – the northern side of Crusader is rather steep!
We boxed on southward over McMahon and headed towards Lodestone, finding the route a little easier to follow, courtesy of bits of very old pink and blue plastic tape adorning branches sporadically along the ridges. The birdlife was relatively prolific as we hiked along, with tomtits and bellbirds aplenty. It’s great to know that the hard work of Friends of Flora is having a positive impact on birdlife abundance, even beyond the F.O.F. trap range.
As we hiked along we discussed the idea of putting a shelter along this route, to give more people the option of doing the crossover at a more leisurely pace. It is certainly a spectacular walk, affording magnificent views both west and east of all that the Nelson Province has to offer. The fog dogs rolled in around 4pm as we ascended Lodestone from the north, then finally hit out at the Flora car-park just after 6pm, very happy to rest our weary limbs.
A hilarious interlude heading down the hill was provided by a hare that ran in front of our vehicle for around 4 kilometres – we all applauded his endurance and staying power, but thought “man, how dumb was that?” There again, I guess we had just spent over 10 hours thrashing body and limb, so maybe the hare too was just having a bit of a blow out! It was then back to Ngatimoti to roll out the red carpet in wait for the Flora team. In due course they arrived and all congratulated each other on a fantastic achievement, and then headed back to our respective beds - Tadmor, Motue-ka, Richmond and Nelson – that we had arisen from at some ungodly hour earlier that day.
By Lawrie Halkett (Scribe).

24 March 2013 – Trig K – Pelorus River – Marlborough
Leader: Jo Kay

This trip was a circuit from Pelorus car park, along the river to the two waterfalls then a climb to Trig K from the south and descent to the North. We were still in the time of the drought so Waterfall No.1 was more of a trickle and looked like a baby Whispering Falls. Waterfall No.2 had more pressure and ended in a lovely pool, in which nobody was game enough to swim in.
We lunched at the summit with great views in all directions.
The bush on the downward journey was truly spectacular with huge punga ferns, some majestic kahikatea and rimu. The walk from the carpark to the Trig K track is named the Tawa Track and this was a superb chance to see this lovely tree in abundance and in all stages of growth.
Members of the party were Uta Purcell, Mary Honey, Susan Sinclair and visitors Marielena Margraf, Thomas Quinn-Gregson, Marty and Suzanne Smith. Scribe and party leader was Jo Kay.

13 April 2013 – Beebys Knob & Hut – Mt Richmond Forest Park, Nelson
Leader: Uta Purcell

The 4WD road that leads from Tophouse Rd up to Beebys Knob and beyond is certainly a quick way to tramp to the destination. Once on the ridge below the knob the road is more natural and traverses beautiful tussock country. The cloud came down low after morning tea and any views disappeared.
We were at the Hut after 2.5 hours, so had an early lunch at 11.30am. Chris lit a fire in the open fire place and it cheered us up while it got steadily darker outside. This was also an introduction for Marielena, an exchange student from Germany, to old style huts in New Zealand. We made a swift descent and returned to the cars in under five hours total time. The sun had tried briefly to break through and the open tussock land glowed golden. That was soon dimmed by rain for the last half hour.
The trampers were: Chris Louth, Jocelyn Winn, Mike Locke, Maureen and Roger Cotton, Marielena Margraf (visitor) & Uta Purcell (scribe).

29 March–1 April 2013 (Easter) – Hope & Doubtful valleys, Lake Sumner Forest Park & Lewis Pass National Reserve
Leader: Ray Salisbury

After takeaway coffees in Murchison, our convoy was then distracted again by free food and coffee at the Driver Reviver station set up by State Insurance at the Engineers Camp on SH7.
Nearly four hours had elapsed when we finally donned our boots at Windy Point, where Paul Smith joined us from his nomadic no-fixed-abode existence. The swingbridge over the Boyle River dangled us over a spectacular gorge, then a trail circumnavigated Poplar Station on a frustrating detour up the hill. But soon we were making lightning fast progress alongside the Hope River through black beech forest, arriving at the rustic Halfway Shelter in 2.5 hours. Four mattresses have been installed here, though it’s a rough and ready place, better suited for a brief sandfly-free stop-over.
The journey got easier the further up-valley we ventured, along delightful river flats to cross another pretty canyon on a tight swingbridge. A 4WD track sidled this gorge and spat us out into the upper valley, with a more remote wil-derness vibe and less evidence of cattle grazing. We camped on the soft grass outside St Jacobs Hut, where hunters were resident, as it was The Roar – the start of deer-shooting season.
The forecast storm held off during Saturday, when we sauntered up for 1.5 hours to our next campsite outside Top Hope Hut, also over-run with a quartet of hunters.
Afternoon sunshine saw us up-river, criss-crossing Hot Springs Creek ‘til we located our main objective: two steaming thermal pools; one was suffice to for the eight of us to sit around, while the water temperature was about 35-degrees. The girls changed into bathers, some alcohol appeared, and we indulged in sedentary delights of soaking our sweaty bodies for an hour. This seldom-visited locale was about an hour from the hut.
Back at our base, we borrowed the hut’s chairs to sit around a campfire; well, a large angel candle, where we read Wilderness and NZ Geographic magazines.

By Easter Sunday, the rain had set in, as expected. Roger and Paul retired down-valley to Hope-Kiwi Lodge.
The remaining six, all runners or ex-runners, managed a 6-kmph pace along St Jacobs Flat to follow poles up into Pusy Stream. Here we were slowed by boulder-hopping around logjams. An hour of this saw us arrive at the upper forks where a vertiginous route had us scrambling hand-over-hand onto a razorback ridge. This narrow spur eventually topped out through leatherwood into tussock slopes, where we were exposed to the rain and wind.
Once over a low saddle on the Doubtful Range we descended to the tidy Lake Man Bivouac for a quick breather. A marked track then sidled above the Kedron Stream and dropped us down into the Doubtful.
An hour upstream, we crossed to a DOC signpost, then negotiated treefall up the Doubtless River for twenty minutes. By the time we found Doubtless Hut, we were soaked to the skin, after 6.5 hours on our sodden feet. Even-so, Pat and Kate insisted on camping, allowing three hunters to use precious bunkspace. Chris did himself proud in cranking up the open fire, and the trip leader supplied the requisite marshmellows for toasting. Pat supervised a game of Black Widow (Hearts) while the rain hammered the hut roof with a vengeance.
Monday morning saw us leave before the leader’s deadline, moving like a well-oiled machine along the river flats. It must be mentioned that anonymous members left particular items in various huts, and the patient party waited for them to jog back to retrieve the forgotten items. It’s nice when others show tolerance of our foibles and idiosyncracies. Avoiding the persistent nip of the dreaded namu, we boiled the billy inside the diminuitive Doubtful Hut, mid-morning.

In four hours we reached the Boyle River where lunch was consumed. We watched cars zoom along SH7 on the far bank. However, the leader’s decision to use Te Araroa’s new ‘Tui Track’ proved very frustrating, as DOC have cut the link track around private land. In places we were sandwiched between a deer fence and spiky matagouri which had overgrown. This was truly the sting in the tail, and it was another two hours before we were reunited with Paul and Roger at Windy Point. The nearby hot springs at Sylvia Flat were tepid and devastated by a giant landslide. The crew at Driver Reviver had long gone. And so it was, after a speeding ticket (wink, wink) we found comfort in hot coffees and chips at Springs Junction.
In retrospect, we all had a great time despite inclement weather and crowded huts. Awesome company goes a long way to make up for physical discomfort. And there’s nothing like suffering to forge people together. We’re already excited about our next trip into the Hills. Bathers were: Kate Krawczyk, Sue Henley, Andrea Cockerton, Chris Louth, Pat Holland, Ray Salisbury (scribe), Roger Cotton and Paul Smith (guest).


20 April 2013 – Commentary Cave – Upper Takaka, Golden Bay
Leader: Alison Pickford

alison aaron

Alison Pickford organised a joint weekend with the Nelson Speleological Group. 4 NTCers, 2 visitors and 8 cavers gathered at the Rat Trap corner, Upper Takaka. Showery weather and report not good but the cavers insisted they had a dry cave. So off we went to a nearby farm road. We got togged up ( polypro, overalls, bash-hat, headlamp and gloves) and then walked up a steep hill into a small bush patch. And there we were at the 'Field' entrance to the Commentary Cave system.
Down we plunged led by NSG President Andrew Smith. And what an underground adventure we had for the next 4.5 hours: large caverns, waterfalls, short climbs, abrupt drops, narrow passages and 'squeezes' were successfully traversed with much grovelling and some rope-work.
Limestone features included stalactites, floral patterns, mini-tubes and shawls plus some glow-worms. All very beautiful and eery by lamp-light. The route was confusing with many twists and turns, plus side passages which Sam and Bridget, keen young cavers, thoroughly explored. Lunch was in a magnificent amphitheatre complete with a tongue of limestone exuding from an upper chamber.
After a final squeeze through a puddle we emerged wet and muddy into the last chamber (aptly named Monster Mouth) with daylight seeping in from the exit. We had completed a circuit of a few-100 metres underground and all not more than 50m from the surface!
Back to the vehicles and so to the caver's delightful club hut near the top of Takaka Hill for refreshments. About half the team stayed overnight including dinner and socialising.
Arising somewhat late after a night of continuous rain, we again togged up to do Summit, another shorter cave right near the start of the Takaka Hill Walkway. However, the stream was flooded so we settled for the walkway, accomplishing about an hours worth before heavy rain set in. Drying out and lunch back at the lovely warm hut and then we packed up for the return to Nelson, hours before the Takaka Hill was closed. An excellent weekend in weather that would have defeated a tramping trip.
Wombles were: Alison Pickford, Patrick Holland (scribe), Ray Salisbury, Alison Aaron (NTC); Denise, Ian (visitors); Many thanks to the NSG cavers for guidance and hospitality: Andrew, Dawn, Greg, Rose, Saskia, Peter, Sam & Bridget.

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