A great place to hang out – Sunday 17 April 2016p1010642


On a nice pleasant sunny day seven of us met at Richmond Badminton carpark for the drive to Lake Rotoiti I was apprehensive about two things: first,there was supposed to be the Loop-the-Lake Race on the same day and the carpark would be full, second, Helen wanted to get back by 5.30pm so she could go to the movies and I couldn’t guarantee we’d get back on time. But Julian was not worried and at Kerr Bay there was hardly anyone there and he said to Helen “We’ll get you back on time.”

Before we even got going Helen handed out choc afghan biscuits and off we went at speed. As one is climbing through the forest it is dominated by large red beech and they are quite high, and noticed very few wasps around. We found a nice spot after 40 mins on a soft log for morning tea. After coffee and muffins a gradual uphill, the lead changed several times and further up the mountain beech becomes more stunted. Above the bushline at 1400m trees give way to snow tussock and sub-alpine shrubs and then a short walk to Parachute Rocks which got its name from a parachute-shaped gravel scree located just to the north. What a great place to hang out. There you get fantastic views and it is worth stopping for photos.

From here it is a steep climb to the ridge line which doesn’t look too far away but is very deceptive and took most of us a good 30 mins to the St Arnaud range at 1650m. The effort was worth it and the party were rewarded with spectacular views of the surrounding area, east down the Wairau Valley and Lake Rotoiti the other way. We ducked down a bit on the east side out the wind for lunch. One could go further to another lookout point 30 mins away but would be very windy and the views would not be much better. A week earlier when I did a dummy run we were buzzed several times by a glider up here and I reckon it was Ritchie McCaw but very quiet up here today.

Thirty minutes later our group headed down with caution except Lesley J who showed great confidence on the downhill stretch, another pause at Parachute Rocks and into the bush again. Visitor Ian was a little sad as would be his last tramp with us (the guy had been on three others), he would be heading back to Scotland the following week. Finally about 4.10pm we were at the finish satisfied we had done an honest day. So we were able to get our member back in time to go to the 6pm movie “Sherpa.” Those on the tramp were: Donell Raharuhi, Helen Tapper, Julian Edmonds, Lesley Gunn, Lesley Johnstone, visitors Ian Urquhart, Rita Elgert (picked up at Wakefield), and me (leader and scribe).

David Wheeler