Trip Reports: April 2004

Robert Ridge Exploration – 21 & 22 February 2004

Cancelled due to weather, however, an alternative:
Mt Duppa on Sunday, 22 February

The advertised trip for 21 & 22 February seemed doomed from the start. The long range weather forecast was not promising and on Monday the trip organiser, Grahame, reported sick. Saturday's weather as predicted was not good but Sunday was not too bad and in order to get a walk of some sort Mt Duppa was chosen. Even then not everything went smoothly, pine trees across the road, from the previous high winds, meant a 2km walk to the start of the track. However once on the track we had a very pleasant walk to the top where we sat in the sun for lunch and enjoyed the lovely views. It isn't far, under two hours, mostly in bush and passing through some interesting limestone formations. After lunch most of us strolled to the nearby rocky outcrop for further views before heading back down. Heavy and sustained gunfire indicated that there was a war going on somewhere across the valley but we got back to the cars without sustaining any casualties. 
All present and correct were David Blunt, Shirley Gabrielsen, Kathy Harrison, Yvonne Kyle, Beverley Muirhead, Ian Pavitt, Lindsay Twiname, visitor from England Dennis West (an entertaining cockney), and first reserve trip organiser, Arthur Jonas. 
Lake Chalice / Patriarch - 28 & 29 February 2004. Organiser: Ruth Hesselyn

This trip was yet another February casualty, so due to the persistent rain, I opted to go up the wall instead!
Eight of us met at 'Vertical limits' saturday afternoon, where we spent a couple of enjoyable hours stretching, dangling and occasionally reaching the top of various colour coded climbs. The participants were Beverly Muirhead, Carole Crocker, Dion Pont, Giselle Clements, Mark Stevens and two visitors, Chris (an experienced climber from Canada) and Pam (a keen beginner).

There were eight starters for the Sunday stroll to North Peak. We met in Richmond at the leisurely hour of 10am, just so the mists would have time to clear! Even this modest goal was nearly thwarted before we got far up the forestry road, due to one very large windfall. As no one had a chainsaw, Dave mentioned that there was an alternative route up the road, which proved correct. The tramp was short and sweet, with lunch on top. We were granted occasional views through the mist, passed through a cold and wet southerly, then basked
in sunshine when nearly back at the cars. But the highlight of the trip was looking at the best collection of toadstools I've ever seen! On the trip: Alison Nicoll, Beverly Muirhead, Brian McLean, Dave Blunt, Gretchen Williams, Mark Stevens, Uta Purcell, and Skye Hesselyn.
Private trip to Copland Pass - 2-6 March 2004. Organiser: Ruth Hesselyn

Yes, finally after weeks of waiting for good weather, a small window of fine weather so here we were. The track begins from the carpark just north of the Karangarua River roadbridge on State Highway 6. In typical West Coast fashion we get our feet wet within the first 100 metres as we cross Rough Creek, the first of many creek crossings today. We are then on the well-used bush highway across river flats through forest before passing above the confluence of the Karangarua and Copland Rivers. From here we follow the true right bank of the Copland River along bouldery river beds, crossing side creeks and river terraces. We cross a massive active slip caused by the “300 year flood” of March 1982. From Shiels Creek the track descends slowly to emerge into a small clearing at Welcome Flat. Ruth praises us for making good time and our reward is one hour’s R&R.

After exactly one hour, Ruth summoned the troops and we were off to Douglas Rock Hut, some 3 hours away. We crossed to the true left of the Copland River, via the large suspension bridge. Then across large open river flats contained by the Sierra Ranges on our right and the Navigator Ranges on our left. All in wonderful sunshine. At Scotts Creek (which had water in only one of its many tributaries), David shows us the route to climb Mt Sefton but we will leave that for another day! Beyond Scotts Creek, the track enters the forest and begins to climb as it sidles the upper gorge. The higher we climb the more rata we see in flower and with the snow-capped peaks behind, it is a wonderful sight. We reach the hut at 5.30pm. 

We shared the hut with five Waiheke Island “hippies” who had just come over the Pass. These were genuine hard-core she’ll be right characters, and certainly not your normal alpine adventurers. They provided an endless talking point for the remainder of our trip. Like the one who wore rubber boots for the crossing, or the one who’d never been on snow before, or the one who ran 34km in boat slippers to get booze for his friends back at the hot pools. Anyway, an early start was requested, so come morning but still in darkness, we prepared for our day to the Pass. Would the weather hold?

This day at least we had lighter packs. The first section along the valley is only a gradual climb, again crossing several side creeks. Then it is on to a zig zag track which rises steeply giving views of the Copland Glacier and its terminal lake and hanging ice perches on the side of the Banks Range. As we continue up the Pass, we climb into a couple of snow-covered basins separated by steeper rock-strewn sections. Then the final snow slope with Fitzgerald Pass ahead and Copland Pass to our left. Copland Pass is not at all like a pass but a series of abrupt rock pinnacles and it is these that Ruth explains we have to climb. The group goes silent - exhaustion or fear I’m not quite sure. Anyway the weather is wonderful so our group decide to go on to Fitzgerald Pass, have lunch, enjoy the views and possibly attempt Copland Pass after lunch. So we all proceed to the top of Fitzgerald Pass and what a truly wonderful sight beholds us. Glorious views down into the Hooker Valley and across the other side of the valley, Lake Pukaki in the south, Mt Cook to the north, Copland Valley to the west, and Tasman Sea beyond. 

We had lunch and reward chocolates from Ruth, then she encouraged us across a snow slope from our safe lunch spot to start our climb to the Copland. The far end narrow gully had snow and ice going about half way up so Ruth started cutting steps heading for its rocky shute. Once into that she climbed the rock section on to the Pass with everyone else following literally in her footsteps. From this point we could see Mt Sefton and Toadstool to the south of us, and the large bergschrund below us. After some time here, we retraced our steps with various stops for chocolate, including a nice long stop by Deep Creek for late lunch/early afternoon tea. 

The next day, back down the valley pausing at Welcome Flat Hut and Architect Creek Hut for breaks. A great tramp, many thanks to Ruth for her perfect timing of this trip and her gentle persuasion along the way to get the job done. The lucky travellers were: David Blunt, Carole Crocker, Shirley Arnst, Dion Pont, Ken Ridley, Ian Pavitt (scribe), and Ruth Hesselyn.
Bounds - 6-7 March 2004. Organiser: Mike Drake

At 10:12 three trampers headed up Boulder Stream and with much banter and chatter, the valley to the ridge was quickly reached. Once Boulder Stream was crossed the valley gradually steepened with a corresponding reduction in chatter. The ridge top was savoured and a short side trip provided us with a view of tomorrow’s objective and some psychological preparation. A diagonal route down to, and then following Station Creek, brought us to a campsite area. At this point many goats slowly came into view, most quickly fled, but a billy, with a very domineering posture surveyed the situation. A good set of horns caused the party to pause while billy was assured that his harem was safe. Brews, biscuits, dinner and good conversation saw us early to bed. On Sunday at 08:10, after a one hour climb up a spur, we were at 1400m at the start of the ridge traverse. However the first peak had to be reached before the true character of the ridge was presented. Once reached silence was followed by further questioning about the difficult parts. I could only remember one tricky part, but with an easy alternative. Being suspected of suffering traumatic amnesia the team was motivated to quickly explore the way forward. Three hours and 30min later with few stops, the summit was safely reached, providing a patchwork of views through a sea of low cloud. A relaxing lunch with the team now fully desensitised to sheer drops saw us quickly retracing our steps to arrive back at the campsite in 3 hours. Having emptied all water bottles the stoves were fired up for a well earned brew. A quick march out via an alternative route, with a “bit” of bush, brought us to the car in approx. 2 hours. An excellent weekend. The ridge hoppers were Nora Flight, Mark Stevens, and Mike Drake.
Lake Rotoiti Circuit - 7 March 2004. Organiser: David Nielsen

We started around the Mt Robert side of the lake and walked quickly to warm up, glancing occasionally at the lake for any interesting boats (it was the Classic Boat Show weekend). We had morning tea at the jetty near Whisky Falls – the Falls themselves were quite spectacular due to recent rain. On reaching Coldwater Hut at the far end of the lake we all did a spot of bush bashing looking for a possible short-cut across the river flats. But no, the usual further up the track crossing spot was deemed best. Despite the river being barely knee deep, we maintained the plan of having river-crossing instruction, with Andy being tutor. After inspecting Lake Head Hut we continued walking about five minutes down the track before selecting a lunch spot. 

The bird life on this track seems to be on the increase as we heard birds singing most of the way around the lake. And two birds of the NTC variety chose afternoon tea time to break away to a private spot for a refreshing swim. Back at Kerr Bay two others headed for the water but only one was brave enough to take the plunge. A quick car shuttle then to St Arnaud for icecream and coffee. Participants: Andy & Nicola Clark, Marianne Hermsen, Kazu, Heather Spence, Lindsay Twiname, & David Nielsen.
Cullen Creek to Waikakaho Village Clearing - 13 March 2004. Organiser: Uta Purcell

A more settled weather after an unusual summer brought out 16 eager trampers for this track, the youngest 11 years old. It was a fit group that made its way through historic Cullensville, where old gold mining shafts, hotel, bank, and theatre sites are commemorated, then on a steady climb up the old miner's track to a terrace. From here on a new track has been cut, bypassing the private farm hut. Just before entering the beech forest we gained good views back to the Marlborough Sounds. At the saddle we enjoyed the lookout, which displayed the country around Blenheim, from Cloudy Bay to the Kaikouras. An old mine shaft was explored by some. We settled at the Village Clearing for lunch and were warmed by some sun. Here are still 2 stone chimneys remaining. The collectors looked in vain for old bottles. The return on the same track was easy. It felt good to have been out and active for 7 hours. Party: Alice Patterson, Arthur Jonas & Yvonne Kyle, Roger Bruce, Andy Clark and Nicola, Shirley Gabrielsen, Mary Honey, Dion & Barry Pont, David Nielsen, Beryce Vincenzi, Alison & David Nicoll, Brian McLean and Uta Purcell.
Airport Walk - 14 March 2004. Organiser: Brenda Sinclair

A lovely fine day for a brisk 45 minute walk around the airport. We started at 10a.m.
Party: Visitors Gillian & Hec Arbuthnott, Brenda Sinclair & Shelly Sinclair in buggy.
Lewis Pass Area - 19 - 21 March 2004. Organiser: Roger Bruce

With the threat of an inclement weather forecast, 10 trampers left Nelson at various times on Friday afternoon bound for Marble Hill at the foot of the Lewis Pass, to set up camp for the night. Everyone had arrived by 8.30pm to indifferent weather – low fog and mist and light rain. Saturday morning dawned with similar conditions but a decision was made to carrry on with the climb to Travers Peak. We drove over the Pass to Deer Valley where we left the cars, then over the road and up through the bush reaching the bushline in 1.5 hours. Above the bush the weather was a lot cooler and the light rain was very persistent. We went on and up a fairly exposed rocky tussock ridge until the top was reached in 1.5 hours. This was very unusual with no rock cairns or markers. Unfortunately the view was obliterated by low fog and mist. With the temperature getting lower, not much time was spent on the top, preferring to head down to the bush edge for lunch and then back to the cars. A decision was then made to abandon the remainder of the trip because of the weather.

Several members of the party stopped at Maruia Springs for a swim in the hot pools before heading home to Nelson. The party consisted of: Uta Purcell, Arthur Jonas, Yvonne Kyle, David Blunt, Dion Pont, Mark Stevens, Shirley Gabrielsen, and visitors Roger McMichael and Karen.

Parachute Rock - 27 March 2004. Cancelled due to poor weather.
Mt Royal - 28 March 2004. Organiser: Ian Pavitt

From the carpark at the end of the Wakamarina Road, it was a very pleasant and easy tramp to the Devils Creek Huts. We had our morning tea here, enjoying the sunshine. Some of the group had taken the opportunity to look over the old wooden slab hut that stands behind the newer hut. It is great to see how the old huts were constructed, skills that are being lost perhaps? The easy part of the day over, we descended to the Wakamarina River, crossed Devils Creek and started a very steep climb. This continues for approximately 400m and then eases to a slightly less acute angle for the rest of the climb. The bush is very open, probably due in some part to feral grazing. We stay on the main ridge and although some of the old markers are missing, it is a straightforward ridge to follow. As we get higher up we finally see Mt Royal summit from a clearing and in less than 1 hour we reach the top. Good views of Mounts Fishtail and Richmond, the surrounding hills and down to Blenheim, but a cool wind on top. We have lunch and afterwards retrace our steps and arrive back at the cars some 9 hours after we had departed. Including car travelling time, it is a long day, but as we had good weather the trip was most enjoyable. 
Many thanks from Ian to: Yvonne Kyle, Arthur Jonas (now in the digital camera age), Grahame Harris, Uta Purcell, Dan McGuire, Ruth & Skye Hesselyn (paper bags are now available in Ian’s car), Megg Hewlett, Alison Nicoll, Mary Honey, Gretchen Williams, and Jim Maxwell.
Starveall – Hacket Ridge - 3 - 4 April 2004. Organiser: Grahame Harris

We left Hacket Picnic Area shortly before 9.00am on Saturday and proceeded in our own time to Starveall Hut, arriving individually between four and five hours later. All but two members of the party dropped their packs and continued on to the top of Mt Starveall. That night four members slept in the hut and the others camped out.

Next morning we were away before 8am, climbing to the bushline on Starveall - about half the day's climbing - before dropping down to the Lowther Saddle and climbing up to the tussock slopes on the eastern side of the Hacket Peaks. The top was a viewing and photo stop, but not prolonged because of the cool southerly wind. Then down through a dip and up again to the rocky summit of Mt Gale where the same process was repeated before moving into the shelter of trees for a snack. Then it was down through Weka Pass and up on to the ridge leading to Mt Stewart. We stopped around a third of the way along on a rocky outcrop for lunch; this was the only viewpoint between Mt Gale and point 863 above Totara Saddle. After lunch we continued along the fairly level and open ridge to Mt Stewart, then out came the compass to follow a precise bearing down the featureless steep hillside to our next waypoint - a short saddle across to point 863. Near the bottom Jim's GPS told us we were about 100 metres out of line, and a correction brought us happily back on track. Another bearing took us a further 600 metres down to the track about 20 metres from Totara Saddle. From here it was a long tedious grind back to the cars. 

This day's walk took us about 9 hours, and the trip will be regraded to 4 for future reference. The most exciting incident in an otherwise straightforward trip was when Yvonne and Jocelyn sat down among a swarm of ants - yessir! - ants in the pants! The Party: Grahame Harris (organiser), Ian Pavitt (front-runner for most of the tramp), Jim Maxwell, Jocelyn Winn, Yvonne Kyle, Arthur Jonas, Kath Ballantine, Roger McMichael, & Hisa Matsuo, NMIT Adventure Tourism student.
Third House - 4 April 2004. Organiser: Carl Horn

Having met at the Cathedral Steps at 9am, and motored the 15 minutes or so to the parking lot in the Brook Valley, we set off up the first incline to the Dun Mountain Walkway under a clear, sunny sky. That was the steepest climb of the tramp, and caused some of us to wonder about the grading of the tramp, but that lasted for less than a half-hour, probably more like 20 minutes. From then on the grade was definitely a 1, up what used to be a railway incline all the way up the Walkway to the Third House shelter. At times we could walk two abreast, but at other times it seemed that the gauge of the railway couldn’t have been too wide. On two occasions, instead of having to go up and over a rise, a cutting had been made through the rock for the railway, and we were able to carry on at a comfortable gait. 

From time to time breaks in the surrounding trees allowed distant vistas of Nelson, the Bay, and the mountains beyond. As we rounded one bend we saw the Third House shelter on the other side of the valley considerably higher than ourselves, which seemed somewhat daunting at the time, but the walk there was easy, just took time zigging and zagging. After an hour lazing about the Third House shelter having lunch and enjoying the excellent view of the estuary and the Waimea plain and mountains in the distance, we turned and retraced our steps. Almost immediately we were hit by a change in weather, as a southerly arrived. The temperature dropped enough for us all to bundle up, and one of us even wore gloves to avoid the chill. There was a hint of rain in the air as we clomped down the track. Then, about 3 in the afternoon, the clouds dissipated and the sun warmed us again as we carried on down the hill.

Particularly pleasant were two stretches of the track which weave through stands of kanuka and beech, the broken sunlight dappling the bark, giving a somewhat magical feel to the moment. The Dun Mountain Walkway provides a pleasant stroll and should be on everyone’s list for evening walkabouts in the summer. It’s also the gateway, so to speak, to many kilometers of tracks on the hills east of Nelson. At 4:30pm we were standing in the parking lot in Brook Valley saying our goodbyes. Everyone expressed satisfaction with the day. 
Party: Robyn Walsh, Trish Bennett, John Olykan, and visitors Karen Wardell, Ricki Harris, Gillian Arbuthnott, Hector Arbuthnott, and organiser Carl Horn.
Easter - 9-12 April 2004. Organiser: Ruth Hesselyn

The East of Arthurs Pass trip was cancelled due to heavy snow falls, down to village level. Not the best for river crossing, pass hopping and camping! So, Tony Haddon gallantly volunteered to lead a replacement trip into the Leslie/Karamea. Alice and Dion went on a trip to the Kiwi Saddle area.

On Monday, seven of us did a day trip to Angelus Hut via the Robert Ridge, just to stretch the legs. This brisk walk took us 7.5 hours, with time for photos, nibbles and a lunch break topped with easter eggs. Rumour had it that freshly baked muffins (courtesy of Lindsay), were going to be consumed on David’s Bushline/Mt. Robert circuit and we wondered if we should have joined them! Ice axe and crampons had been advised, but most just used their leki poles, and crampons weren't needed, as a good track had been ploughed through by previous parties. Weatherwise, the TV sunshine was hidden by mists and spindrifts for most of the day, with snow showers on the return journey. Still, it could have been worse. At least visibility wasn't too bad and we weren't actually blown off our feet, just battered.

Ian set the pace, which seemed to increase as the day wore on. In fact, the “brisk” walk turned into a trot, then a run as we neared the car park. I hadn't realised the desire for coffee was so strong! As it eventuated, the scribe missed out on her capuccino due to misplaced car keys. So, while the others supped on their cups at St Arnaud’s coffee shop, she zapped back to the car park and found them near the toilet and fortunately not in it!! Thanks to the crew for an enjoyable trip, though a much shorter one than originally planned. “Them's the breaks”, as Carole would say. Participants: Carole Crocker, Dave Blunt, Ian Pavitt, Mark Stevens, Mike Drake, Roger Bruce, and Ruth Hesselyn.

Leslie/Karamea: Unofficial sources claim a Wangapeka – Karamea River – Flora Carpark journey undertaken by four refugees from the canned official Easter Trip was a runaway success despite indifferent weather, recent windfalls, cold water, blisters, and the planner overlooking a four hour stretch in the Karamea. Reports of a pair of American fishers at Karamea Bend Hut complaining of being woken at 6am after a late night getting “a little lost out there“ have yet to be confirmed. Tourists at Flora Saddle Carpark report seeing a number of “tired looking“ trampers getting into a blue van just before dusk. The van, believed to be a Toyota Liteace, was last seen making off at speed towards Nelson. The whereabouts of Marianne Hermsen, Gretchen Williams, Bob Janssen, and Tony Haddon over the Easter break have not so far been determined.

Castle Rock - 9 April 2004. Cancelled due to poor weather.
Mt Robert - 12 April 2004. Organiser: David Nielsen

An early start, with the long-legged David setting a fast pace up the Pinchgut track. Was the quick pace to wake us up or just to warm us up? Several huff and puff stops on the way up to the Bush Edge Shelter where we donned appropriate layers of clothing as it had started to snow. At Prospect Shelter, whilst admiring the view and discussing the fate of the old skifield, we saw a group heading our way from Angelus – Ruth and her party turned back? Does Ruth turn back? We waited and as they got closer, Grahame suggested we call out something derogatory (but amusing). Fortunately we didn’t – total strangers and time to move on! A quick drop down to Bushline Hut for lunch. Out of the cool wind, we removed layers and donned sun hats. The warmth of the sun had the usual effect and it was at least an hour later that we finally got moving. Grahame took the lead and set an absolute sprint pace, mainly due to the advancing dark snow cloud. It caught us before we reached the shelter of the trees so one more stop for our jackets. And of course two minutes later, sunshine. An excellent day of beautiful views and good walking – enjoyed by Shirley Gabrielsen, Grahame Harris, Jim Maxwell, Lindsay Twiname (scribe), and David Nielsen.
Motueka Ramble - 18 April 2004. Organiser: Lindsay Twiname

We commenced from the Motueka markets where, in the morning’s fog, we had a little retail therapy. With the fog lifting, we headed towards the port, via Thorps Bush, Woodland’s Canal, the estuary edge track to York Park, and then out on to Trewavas Street. There, a most interesting garden – all sorts of little statues plus a mannequin torso sporting a G-string! Not your average garden gnome scene…. Morning tea at the marina: glorious sunshine, lovely views of the mountains – beautiful. Then around to the waterfront for a bit of beach walking. We took a look at the saltwater baths (lots of little fish) and stopped for a quiz on the old boat wreck. Christine won and was awarded a Mars bar. Youngster Hamish, liking the look of the prize, asked if there was to be another quiz….

Down the waterfront, past the golfcourse to Raumanuka Reserve for lunch and, as the sea fog had fully cleared, excellent views. Whilst Arthur found the perfect spot for us to sit, Hamish investigated an interesting sign on the fence and, after a loud crack and a flash, was able to painfully confirm the sign really did say “electric fence”. From here a walk back to town via Pioneer Park and the memorial rose garden on the main road (got to smell the roses). 
Finally, refreshments at Muses Café. My thanks for a fun day to: Shirley Gabrielsen, Hamish Watkins, Yvonne Kyle, Arthur Jonas, Christine Hoy, John Olykan, Ross Price, Ian Pavitt, visitors Vivienne Lightfoot & Karen Wardell.
Dun Mountain via Dew Lakes - 18 April 2004. Organiser: Mark Graesser

An all blokes party of seven enjoyed a magnificent day on this convenient yet demanding circuit in Nelson's back yard. We set off from the Maitai Dam at 8:00, heading up to the Rush Pool and Dew Lakes. This clockwise route was the reverse of recent club trips, and quickly put us above the morning cloud lying down the valley. Steady climbing, with breaks to enjoy the broadening views, brought us to the Dew Lakes at 10:00. Continuing steeply up Little Twin, the fine open beech forest provided welcome shade on an increasingly warm day. Down onto the open tussock saddle and up to the top of Dun Mountain, we were treated to blue skies and an endless panorama. To the southeast, Mts. Fishtail and Richmond seemed almost close enough to touch. To the north and west, fog-covered Tasman Bay, the Arthur Range, and Mt. Snowdon stretched into the distance. Stopping for lunch at 12:00, at the top of Dun, a freshening southeasterly inspired us to bask in the sun on the lee side of a characteristically twisted rock formation. The 360 degree views to be had from this point on a clear day are among the finest in the region, and ample reward for the 1,200 meters of climbing required. The route down the western shoulder of Dun and Windtrap Gully to the south branch of the Maitai was rocky and rough, and fully exposed to the afternoon sun. This track has received no maintenance in years, and sections are badly eroded, causing us to question of the wisdom of descending rather than going up this way. Nonetheless, we returned to the carpark in good time, at 3:30, for a quick scrimmage with the sand flies as we transferred into our vehicles and headed home for refreshment and rest after a fully satisfactory day. The party included Grahame Harris, Dan McGuire, Brian McLean, Mark Graesser, and three non-members: Bob Thompson, Gary Russell, and Anthony Chaney