Blue Hill – Cable Bay, Nelson
Sunday 11 September 2022
Following the "river of rain" that hit Nelson mid-August and the trail of devastation left in its wake, many tracks around Nelson were still closed including the Dun Mountain trail. It was a bit tricky trying to find a replacement trip that was still accessible. Blue Hill seemed a great option, being close to home and open, plus it had also been a previously cancelled trip due to bad weather.
Nine of us met at the Cable Bay Adventure Park just before 9am and after individually signing in we set off at 9.30am along the 4x4 track towards the bridge crossing the Wakapuaka River. Extensive riparian plantings have been done along the river and although a few flattened and flood ravaged cardboard protectors were seen imbedded in the thick coating of silt, the trees looked surprisingly good. While some areas of the adventure park suffered extensive flood damage the tracks and trails appeared to have stood up well. With reduced access to mountain bike trails around Nelson post flood, the adventure park was seeing an upsurge in numbers of riders. The prospect of tangling with a cyclist descending a trail at breakneck speed didn't really excite any of us too much so we opted to take the advice of the staff and stick to the 4x4 track. This choice later proved to have been a good one as some of our group heard frantic warning cries from downhill mountain bikers to clear the trail and get behind a tree!
After crossing the flats we reached the base of the hill and a washed out culvert and section of road. Not wanting to get wet feet quite so soon, we called out to a couple of cyclists who soon pointed us to the route up through the paint ball area. The vehicle track then gently climbs up through native bush and bifurcates around an old Tawa tree at which point a large wooden Maori carving stands. A cheerful mountain biker stopped to tell us of two other walking trails he is involved in developing in the park, which would be good to know about for future trips.
A couple of majestic Matai trees with their signature hammered bark stand at the road side amongst a nursery of native plant seedlings. Marian found some orchids on a moss covered bank and Ed shared some interesting facts about Tawa milling in NZ and its uses. A loud whirring sound overhead signaled we were nearing the Skywire terminal which is reached up a short side road after about one hour from the start.
After a look at the Skywire and taking in the views, morning tea was enjoyed sitting on the deck of the Skyline Café. From the Skywire we retraced out steps back down the short side road to reconnect with the main 4x4 track to the summit. The track continues on and takes a long zigzag up to the turn off to the Bayview lookout and while a lot of the gradient is gentle, there are some steep uphill climbs and most come after the turnoff. A sign on a tree at the beginning of a steep section read “Start Pray'in" which did little to raise the spirits of those who were already feeling the pinch. A digger driver was very courteous in letting us all file past going each way. We reached a view point that gave stunning views of Cable and Delaware bays and Pepin Island. The summit of Blue Hill at 609m was reached after about three hours with a final steep uphill push through the bush to the sound of tuis and bellbirds. The summit itself is very pleasant but a bit underwhelming, a small clearing with a sign but no views.
After a short spell we retraced our tracks back to the Bayview intersection and took the short side track out to the lookout and our lunch destination which we reached about 1pm. A calm sunny spot with spectacular views over Pepin Island, Delaware Bay and beyond. The forecast rain didn't arrive and the overcast skies earlier in the day made for great walking weather. We retraced our steps enjoying the scenery back to the Base Café, arriving for refreshments about 3pm after walking about 17kms taking 5½ hours. We met many mountain bikers who were all very cheerful and friendly. A really enjoyable day out close to Nelson. Thanks to the group for your great company.
Those on the trip were Jeanne (leader and scribe) Marian, Jenny, Lesley J, Helen, Terri, Edward and visitors Ruth and Catherine.