Christmas BBQ - Rabbit Island – Sunday 14 December 2014


The weather gods were extremely kind and we had sunshine with very little wind as we celebrated the Christmas season with members of the Nelson and Motueka tramping clubs, and visitors joining us.  There were about 30 people - hard to get a head count as nobody seemed to stay in one place for long. We met from 2.00pm onwards in the Manuka Picnic Area and enjoyed a variety of activities from chatting with friends, playing cricket, throwing Frisbees, walking along the beach, and swimming until about 4.30pm when the BBQs were fired up, the sausages and steaks put on to cook, and the shared salads, etc. were put out on the table. By the time we had eaten, the sun was starting to disappear behind the pine trees and it was getting rather chilly in the shade - time to head home.


Katie Greer



Lake Alexander – 6-7 December 2014


Hidden valley


On a fine weekend, a group of seven eager trampers visited Lake Alexander – a curious small lake in South Marlborough. We travelled 14 kilometres up the Waihopai Valley Road then turned onto Avondale Road and parked beside letterbox no.756, and set off along a farm road above the Tummil River, following occasional yellow markers. It was pleasant tramping with good views, then after an hour we had a shallow river crossing and continued up the left side of the river to the end of the farm road, taking 1¾ hours altogether. We side-tracked five minutes uphill to the new private Tummil Hut, but as this was occupied, we continued on our way. We crossed the left branch of the river to a small clearing where the old Tummil Hut was sited (it was relocated up to the lake in 2010). The track up the right branch is through a surprisingly well-forested valley including a fabulous grove of 600 year-old matai. A few shallow stream crossings are required, but further up the valley, the stream mostly flows underground. This valley includes mixed terrain, with some steep-sided slopes, rugged bouldery sections and easy going flats, only steepening nearing the lake. Unfortunately some recent windfalls are a somewhat of an obstacle but are mostly easy to negotiate. We emerged at the lower end of the lake and spied the hut on flats across the lake. It was still a good ten-minute walk around the lake before we emerged from the bush onto gravel flats and the welcome sight of the six-bunk hut, taking us five hours in total. At first glance it appears to be a new hut, except there is the tell-tale sign of the older floorboards in half of the hut. What was not so welcome was the unpleasant sight of two bloated goat carcasses dumped 50 metres away from the hut by a previous hunter, attracting many flies. While the lake is only about half a kilometre long, it did have a small island, and is landslide formed, probably by an earthquake within the last few hundred years.

In the afternoon, most of the group carried on from the hut, on a wide stony dry stream bed for ten minutes to find the somewhat obscure start of the track entering the bush. Just past a house-sized boulder on the left side of the stream (also marked by a cairn in the stream bed), the little used marked track climbed steeply up to a rock shelter, then up to point 951 (locally known as Wild Sheep Saddle) and a small lookout point taking 1¼ hours altogether. Sunday was a quicker return, only punctuated by a very brief light shower then mainly fine. We enjoyed a delightful tramp to a sparsely visited hidden valley.

For access permission phone 03 572 4803. A donation for access may be requested.

The trampers were Robert Wopereis, Andrew Henderson, Jill Sheppard, Marie Firth, Christine Hoy, Yvonne Hope (Motueka TC) and Gareth Rapley (Parawai TC).


Robert Wopereis



Waikakaho / Cullens Creek – Sunday 30 November 2014

Gold mining history


Two carloads left Nelson at 7.30am to travel to Havelock. Here the drivers switched vehicles. One vehicle drove to the track start at the Waikakaho end, while the other went to Cullensville, a ghost town near Linkwater. We were fortunate to have a relatively calm and mostly sunny day for this adventure. From the Waikakaho end we had a very evenly graded track that consistently went upward. We did a couple of side trips to visit old mine sites, always leaving a recognisable item at the track junction in case the other group came by. The Village Clearing with the remains of stone chimneys, made us reflect on how life might have been for the 200 people living there at the height of the gold mining days. We awed at the huge rocky outcrops that the original track makers had to negotiate around.


Once in the saddle, the southerly wind kicked in. None the less we had lunch at the lookout point just five minutes along the ridge. Here we had views out to Clifford Bay. The group coming up from Cullensville were wise enough to have their lunch in a sheltered spot some 20 minutes before the saddle. The track down to Cullensville was firstly in bush but then in forestry and with views out to the Marlborough Sounds. We chatted to a pair of kids but they decided to head after their nannies so we zigzagged on down to Cullens Creek. It was here that one of our party realised he'd left his camera some half an hour up the track. It was a forced rest for some, while two guys headed back to find the camera. Good luck was on our side and the camera was found and we continued on our way. We meet up with the others, patiently waiting at Havelock and headed to Rai Valley for an ice cream stop. A great day’s tramping. Those on the trip were Rob Merrilees, Maria Brooks, Katie Greer, Julian Edmonds, Geoff Walker, Georgina Rayner, Ken Lefever, Andrew Henderson and Lou Kolff.


Maria Brooks



Mt Kohatu – Sunday 9 November 2014


Great social walking


The trip started from Tadmor Church with a big line up of cars and 20 people on a good spring morning. Numbers were boosted by the Nelson Club deciding to join us, making for four extra people. With a reasonable climb most of the way, there was a lot of chatter as we passed through farmland to reach the forest at the top. Once through the fence, as the day warmed, we walked the short distance to the communication towers overlooking the Motueka and Motupiko valleys and sat eating an early lunch as vehicles buzzed along the roads far below us. The resident Paradise ducks alighted from the fire water supply pond and did a couple of laps and left us.


It came time to go and we packed up to find that one person couldn’t find her cell phone. After calling many times the vibrating beast was found and packed away, then it was onto the trig. After a short time there, the next goal was Jeff’s place and a shared afternoon tea to celebrate his birthday. Halfway down the hill there was a bit of drama as a lamb that was caught in some manuka had to be rescued. The lamb limped off with Diane trying to escort it toward other sheep. Most of those with agrarian upbringing were trying to talk her out of it, but as we know, Diane will do what she feels is good for the poor wee limping lamb. In usual fashion we not only had afternoon tea but also did Jeff’s bushwalk. How he can get such a long track in such a small area of bush is a mystery, but it was all done. All in all a great social walking day.

Participants were Jeff Lukey, Rob Merrilees (leaders), Maria Brooks, Christine Burn, Georgina Rayner, Diane Jones, Jocelyn Winn, David Wheeler, Katie Greer, Jill Dickinson, Lou & Chrissie Kolff, Anja Scholz, Anja Claus, Val Latimer, Donell Raharuhi, Sue Davies, David Blunt, Bruce Alley (Nelson TC) and Pauline Tout (Nelson TC).


Rob Merrilees



Mt Richmond – 15-16 November 2014


Grand summit achieved


After a high wind and showery forecast the decision was made to go, so for the eight trampers nearing the North Bank turn-off it was great to see clear blue skies. We took the scenic route via a logging site on the way to the carpark, one ford looking much like another! We left the vehicles about 10.30am, stopping for lunch on the way up. The wind was strong but mostly we were sheltered on the wide ridge track. Great uninterrupted views out to the Wairau River mouth, south to Mt Tapuae-o-Uenuku covered in snow and further west. A recent slide/avalanche on the final sidle to the hut was the only interruption on an otherwise excellent track, taking 3½ hours. Another rest break then off to the top before the wind became gale strength. A clear steep route to the top found us all getting there within 1½ hours, but with little time to linger as the wind had turned, becoming stronger and colder.

A plump rat was seen about 15m below the summit - feeding on the grasshoppers that were abundant maybe?

The wind made for a slow descent and it was good to get back to the hut for hot drinks and dinner. Five slept in the hut listening to the wind roaring through the saddle and hoping to find the three tenting still in one piece, but yes it was all in the trees and sounded worse than it actually was!

There was discussion in the morning regarding the nearby Grass Knob, but again the wind won out and the unanimous decision was to head down for something yummy for lunch in Havelock.

Another great trip enjoyed by Jill Sheppard, Robert Wopereis, Maria Brooks, Rob Merrilees, Andrew Henderson, Anya Schloz, Pip Harrison and Kacey Underwood.


Jill Sheppard



Big Beach Clean-Up - Tasman Bay – 1 November 2014


Thanks must go to a good group of 16 members and visitors for helping pick up rubbish on the section of coastline at Beach Road, Richmond. We were one of 50 different groups each out on different sections of Tasman Bay shoreline for the Big Beach Clean-Up day organised by DOC. Most of us were donned in our gumboots and gloves and each supplied with a rubbish bag by DOC. Half the group started from Reservoir Creek near the Aquatic Centre and worked their way towards Beach Road. The other half started at Beach Road and worked their way around to the far corner of the Recycling Centre then back past Beach Road again. For a little publicity the group starting at the Aquatic Centre were interviewed and photographed on the shoreline by a reporter from Waimea Weekly newspaper, arranging this beforehand. Eventually the two groups met up and all the rubbish was loaded onto Rob’s trailer and taken to the compactor at Jubilee Park. The most frequent items found were plastic bottles and plastic bags. Odd finds included a mussel buoy, a concrete planter, a truck tyre and two different single shoes. Also two skinks were seen. Overall this was a worthy community event and a satisfying job done, and only taking us two hours.


Robert Wopereis




Cobb Valley – 25-27 October 2014 - Labour Weekend


Three really good days


Despite terrible weather forecasts for the long weekend, nine of us met up at 7.30am in Richmond on the Saturday morning. As we were staying in the DOC hostel by the Cobb Dam, it seems that most of us took the opportunity to include a few luxuries and the poor cars were straining at the seams when we arrived at the meeting place. Fortunately, Rob and Maria had their ute and we were able to put the majority of the gear in the back of that. We arrived at the DOC hostel about 10.00am and after a quick unpack and a rather longer than wanted hunt for a way to turn the water on (thanks to Rob for solving that problem) we were off to start the weekend of tramping.

First trip was up to Sylvester Hut for lunch in perfect weather. The track is a well graded but a steady climb of just under two hours through bush and a short spell on the tops. We lunched on the track so we could enjoy the views. We saw mistletoe in some of the trees, not yet in bloom, but looking healthy, and lots of bird life. After lunch we carried on to Lake Sylvester and had a good look around, then stopped off at the hut on the way out. It was surprising as to how much of snow had gone in the last six weeks. We met a number of families out with young children and it was great to see that the joy of tramping is being passed on to the next generation. We were back at the hostel by 4.30pm.

Sunday morning and although the weather was a bit “iffy” we drove up to Trilobite Hut and started walking up the valley at 8.30am. The air temperature didn’t get much above 4 degrees for the entire day and most of those who tend to wear only short sleeved shirts were bundled up in four layers and stayed that way all day. The first part of this trip was a wonderful experience of walking through beech forest with all the smells and sounds that remind you of why you are out here; there is something magic about quietly walking with other trampers and hearing only the birds, the whispering creak of packs and the soft sound of boots going through fallen beech leaves. This track takes you alternatively through forest and open clearings up a narrow valley with hills towering about 1000 metres above you and a range of hills ahead of you. We arrived at Chaffeys Hut in time for a cuppa and snack and found the hut was being used by six young people who were enjoying a breakfast of freshly cooked bacon (what a temping aroma that was). We carried on to the newly renovated Tent Camp as a destination. What a great job has been done with the Tent Camp renovation, it looks amazing and is well worth a walk up there to check it out. It was still early in the day, so we carried on to Cobb Hut to have lunch. So far the weather was being kind to us, although the rain clouds were dancing around the hills above and in front of us and occasionally a fine mist would come our way.   

On the homeward journey we were able to watch lots of bird life and hear their calls in the distance.  At one stage we weren’t sure if we were hearing kaka or kea, but the tui were easy to identify as were the riflemen and the fern birds. There was one area (the second to last bush area before Trilobite) where the birdsong was amazingly loud. Our timing with the weather couldn’t have been better; just as we got into the cars it started to rain.

Back to the hostel by 5.00pm where we were able to enjoy a hot shower, dinner, then a night of good company, conversation, and the planning of Monday’s trip. The idea was for some to drive down to the start of the Asbestos track and walk up to the hut, and others to take the Bullock track and walk down to Asbestos Cottage; possibly checking out the unmaintained track. However, the overnight weather changed our plans and it was decided with the previous night’s heavy rain and the condition of an unknown track in doubt we would stay together and go to Asbestos Cottage.

After giving the hostel a good clean, we packed our gear and headed off towards our next day’s tramping experience. The weather again was on our side and we had sunshine again. We arrived at the start of the Asbestos track at 9.20am and headed up towards the old mine workings. This track is a slightly elevated one through lightly bushed beech forest. It was good to see a lot of broadleaf plants regenerating, shows there aren’t many deer in this area eating the bush down before it can grow back. We reached the track that takes you over the old slip and found the rocks and roots to be rather more slippery than usual. Then it was onto the mine area, where we had a good look around at the mine and all the relics left there.

We arrived at Asbestos Cottage in time for a leisurely look around and a discussion on what life must have been like for Annie Chaffey when she lived there. A rather large live Powelliphanta snail was discovered, and left to continue its way with no interruptions from us. Lunch was enjoyed while sitting in the sun taking in the views. Back at the cars by 3.00pm, and then it was off towards the Woolshed Café on Takaka Hill for a coffee. The fog on the hill was amazingly thick and made driving a little challenging. The air temperature must have been about 2 degrees outside the café, and only marginally warmer inside. After dining on toasted sandwiches, cake, Devonshire teas, coffee and hot chocolates we headed back towards Richmond and the end of three really great days.

On the trip were Katie Greer, Jocelyn Winn (leaders), Pat Taylor, Christine Burn, Ken Lefever, Maria Brooks, Rob Merrilees, Val Latimer and Kacey Underwood (visitor).


Katie Greer


Conical Hill – 18 October 2014


Amazing sculptures

Despite a marginal weather forecast, thirteen people were interested in this Saturday walk. Having met at Richmond at 7.30am, as we drove towards the Western Ranges, they looked murky with passing showers. All vehicles successfully negotiated a fallen tree partially blocking Hodgkinsons Road.

We left the skid site about 9.00am, cloudy but dry. The track is user friendly thanks to the dedicated voluntary efforts of Gary and Sue Davies....corduroy laid in mud, some fallen trees sawn and even a handrail in a slippery spot! After our morning tea break, we began to earn our keep gaining height to the rocks. Nature has created some amazing sculptures up there. We lunched on the Conical Hill where it was mild and sheltered then, but the sky was continually changing with showers about and sunshine patches on the farmland below. Occasionally the Lookout Range showed itself through its claggy veil.

We began our return about 1.00pm. Chris’s botanical expertise always helps us transform the mystery of our plant life to an understanding of some details. Maria heard kakariki, but not close. As we descended, the rain really set in, the track becoming awash in places and some thunder rolled. Nevertheless, the rain really enhances the colours of the mosses and bush.

We sure appreciated our dry clothes, sitting in a warm car being driven home through, by then very heavy rain. Again, many thanks to our drivers who make these visits possible.

Participants were: Jocelyn Winn, Maria Brooks, Rob Merrilees, Jill Sheppard, Herta Eger, Chris and Jo Ecroyd, Christine Hoy, David and Alison Mountfort, Donell Raharuhi, Julian Edmonds, and Pip Harrison (visitor).


Jocelyn Winn

Brook Sanctuary – 12 October 2014


Exploring the Brook

In perfect spring weather eight keen trampers set off up the Koru track on the north bank of the Brook Valley to the Ferny Flats river crossing. After crossing The Brook we followed the excellent track system to the new Kakariki Ridge track. The Kakariki track zigzags up a steep spur and onto a ridge, eventually joining up with “I” trap line. We met a one keen volunteer using a chainsaw to clear “H” trap line and further along Arthur was clearing traps. Care was taken not to get side-tracked down other trap lines crossing the ridge but the leader got distracted clearing the track of fallen branches and failed to look for the turnoff from “I” line to the Jenkins Hill - Third House track. After going about 500m past the junction it was decided the best option was to go straight uphill a short distance through very open beech forest until we met this track on the ridge, only 200m from Third House. The off track bush-bashing was relatively easy and it wasn’t far through to the main walking track. We were at Third House in good time for an early lunch in the sun after walking for just over 2.5 hours.

After lunch we headed downhill onto the Toutouwai Ridge track through open wind-damaged hard beech forest with dense patches of tussock. It was a good ridge to descend and we were soon onto the better track system near the valley floor. We followed the South Valley track to Flagstone Crossing and along Totara Traverse to the Forks and out along the Valley Floor track. 

The five hour trip gave us a great overview of the Brook Sanctuary showing us the range of terrain and forest types which will soon be enclosed inside the predator-proof fence. The group was Chris and Jo Ecroyd (leaders), Katie Greer, Andrew Henderson, Val Latimer, John Perrin (visitor), Georgina Rayner and Jocelyn Winn.

Chris Ecroyd

Kirwans Hut, Reefton – 20-21 September 2014

Kind weather gods

Six hardy trampers, pre-warned of rain and snow for the Saturday, departed Nelson region very early to be greeted by thick beautiful snow lying on the Hope Saddle continuing through to Kawatiri Junction. Though a light rain fell all the way to our turnoff just north of Reefton, by the time we set out at 9.30am it had stopped. While still on the river section a friendly nanny goat became sincerely attached to the leading tramper, not wanting to leave the track for a full 15 minutes and when we finally stopped encouraging it to go back, the piteous bleats that followed put all thoughts of goat curry out of mind. [And yes she was there on our return and even came to sniff an outstretched hand!]

 We stopped for lunch before the snow line though at only 6° we didn’t tarry. Snow was reached at about the 800m mark and not long after we had to don raincoats as an intermittent sun was sending persistent snow showers and clumps from the trees. Snow covered new windfalls made the upper track more interesting, a change from the steady plod. Some photo stops then the hut was reached at 3pm, all glad to be inside as temp was now 1°. The new large double glazed windows provided an excellent view and heat trap, although it did take a couple of hours to get to 10° inside, when the coal [+ wood] fire became effective. Another tramper turned up at 5pm, really happy that others were before him as he knew the fire would be going! The weather had by this time turned again with snow coming in.

Thanks to reasonable reception for a tiny radio, we had updates on the election and a stimulating night’s conversation with strong advocates for the health and education sectors being present.

Sunday dawned clear, so leaving our packs at the turnoff we climbed up to the highest point (about 18m higher than Kirwans Hill trig to the northwest). From here we could see mountain peaks of many of our National Parks - Kahurangi, Arthur’s Pass, Paparoa, Westland and Aoraki/Mt Cook - a dazzling perspective with all the new snow cover. More photos then back to our packs and downwards, shedding layers of clothes (only very gradually though - still chill at our lunch break). We found another two mines that had been totally missed on the way up - did a partial exploration only of one and the other had a great puddle at the start that was off-putting! Another time. Back to the vehicles just as the rain started - very timely. The weather gods had looked after us over the weekend but maybe they'd had enough!

We stopped at the Red Barn at Murchison, for hot drinks and food, happily sitting by the fire talking of our tramp and very glad to have gone despite the forecast. A weekend made special by the snow and the following great tramping companions Maria Brooks, Rob Merrilees, Tatjana Starosczik, Anja Claus, Robert Wopereis and Jill Sheppard (scribe).



Holyoake Clearing Shelter – 14 September 2014


Good energetic walk

Once again a plan B came to the rescue. Advance intelligence suggested Rainbow would be closed so the alternative trip to Holyoake was on.

With a mixed weather report, eight trampers set off from Marahau at 9:30am. Our newcomer Casey was introduced to the first section of the Abel Tasman, with a short stop at the first lookout. A brief stop at Tinline campground then a few minutes later the turn-off was reached for the Inland Track and the climb commenced. Traversing the regenerating growth and flowing side streams we reached the first prominent rock lookout. It was elected to carry on to the next lookout for morning tea, a clearing on decomposed granite which offered more room. The weather was still holding out, however the ridge we were about to climb was covered in mist. Revived with morning tea the group commenced the main grunt of the tramp, with a few short stops at clearings for a breather. Arriving at the Torrent Bay turn-off the hut was now 30 minutes away. The ridge provided panoramic views of Torrent Bay and surrounds. After a short but steep climb the hut appeared in view and lunch commenced with welcome sunshine breaking through the clouds.

A little later the weather deteriorated with mist and a cold breeze. There was a sudden departure of the ladies, unsure whether it was the cold breeze or a juicy topic in the Womens’ Weekly, and we did not see them until almost at the carpark. The mention of lattes at the Toad Hall Café in Motueka brought the group together. A good energetic walk with a total height gained of 690 metres with a total climb of 890 metres.

Those on trip were Peter Vella, Anja Claus, Christine Hoy, Georgina Rayner, Eddie Runge, Geoff Walker, Graham Soppit and newcomer Casey Underwood.

Peter Vella

Lake Sylvester – 6-7 September 2014


A trip for all seasons

We left Richmond at 8am and arrived at the scenic view-point overlooking Lake Cobb in beautiful, sunny weather for a quick stop. We couldn’t resist a few photos and greeting the friendly local weka. After a short drive across the dam to the carpark it was packs on and walking along the easy track while viewing perfect reflections on the Cobb Reservoir. With a group of nine and only twelve bunks in the hut there was some concern to find four vehicles already parked. A quick check in the intentions book revealed that most were probably not staying the night.

One of the botanical members of the group noted several small trees protected from possum browsing by metal bands and figured they were Pittosporum patulum, a threatened species. The track climbs gently and has to be one of the easiest to get above the bush line. In less than two hours we were at the hut, enjoying lunch and great views. After lunch we headed off to Lake Sylvester and were soon trudging through a thick snow drift with the less fortunate, falling into holes nearly waist deep. The lake was calm with incredible reflections of the patchy snow covering the hillsides above. We climbed towards Iron Hill and enjoyed views of the Cobb and beyond, until the weather deteriorated enough to get a bit of white stuff coming down. Retreating back to the warm hut for the evening was considered a good option.

While a few members enjoyed a cool evening sleeping in tents, others sweated inside the overheated hut. Sunday morning was cool and clear with a layer of cloud over Takaka providing more opportunities for great photos. After breakfast most of us headed up the easy ridge on the north side of Lake Sylvester until we reached a high point looking down on Iron Lake and Lake Lockett. We could even see the Kaikouras in the far distance to the east.

We were back at the hut well before lunch time and reluctantly headed back down to the cars listening to a great selection of bird song along the way including kea, kaka, and parakeets. It was another great weekend in a delightful area which is well worth regular visits to see it in all moods and seasons.

Participants were Chris and Jo Ecroyd, Rob Merrilees, Maria Brooks, Katie Greer, Tatjana Starosczik, Noelene Roberts, Robert Wopereis and Elizabeth Dooley.

Chris Ecroyd


Motueka Sandspit – 24 August 2014

Seaside saunter and scavenge

The day was fine and calm but with no frost as we started at 10am from the saltwater baths at Motueka with Ian leading. The tide was retreating and we walked just 15 minute to a morning tea stop rightly designated by our more experienced members. It was absolutely tranquil with views over the water. I wondered if we would want to carry on but we did, arriving at the start of the spit just after 11am. We expected to find Maria waiting for us, but she had not made it yet so we continued on. We lost Tim& Karen & wee Sophie as they felt it would be too long, so the rest of us strode out onto the spit. A steady pace took us to a spot not too far from the end of the spit and the lead group took no time in finding the annual mussel buoy for Scavy - as Julian  had  named me at the start. David pressed on to find the end of the spit as Scavy (tail-end Charlie) brought in the last of the group. A pleasant lunch break concluded and we returned on the inside of the spit with two extras - the buoy and a pointed post found near the lunch spot. All seemed to enjoy the walk back as I made it a training mission with post and buoy in tow. Scavy was told to go ahead with his pet buoy and post as the others sauntered back to the bathes. I had the buoy and post loaded in the Hi-Lux when the others arrived. Making the most important decision of the day next was afternoon tea at Toad Hall. This was enjoyed by all except three who had other things to do.

The group was Ian Sowman (leader), Rob Merrilees (co-leader& Scavy), Pat Taylor, Noelene Roberts, Julian Edmonds, Eddie Runge, Nolene and Mark Tullet, Georgina Rayner and newcomers Tim & Karen & Sophie Tiler, Brenda Sinclair and David Wheeler. Maria Brooks was the late entrant.

Rob Merrilees


Bushline Hut – 10 August 2014

Sun, snow and scenery

A beautiful sunny day after a cold start in the morning. We parked at Paddy's Track carpark and walked as far as the scrub line before stopping for morning tea. The track was well groomed. Once on the open ridge we encountered the snow which was very powdery and not very deep, so easy to move through and quite slushy on the sunnier spots. Lovely icicles hung from Bushline Hut and we all enjoyed the warm sun and superb scenery here for a bit before continuing on. The snow was deeper as we crossed over Mt Robert with some icy patches. The easiest place to walk was in the footsteps of those who had ventured before us. Snow drifts here were up to my knees. Most of us stopped for lunch at the junction of the tracks. Some went on to Relax Shelter while others entertained themselves and us by sliding on plastic bags down the slope just above the shelter. There were some icy patches on the track in the bush as we headed down the Pinch Gut.

We were lucky to get a sunny calm day to enjoy this trip. Those on the trip were: Rob Merrilees, Maria Brooks, Julian Edmonds, Jill Sheppard, Chris Ecroyd, Don Clementson, Georgina Rayner, Tatjana Starosczik, Graham Soppit, Pauline Manley, Jill Dickinson & Christine Hoy. Pauline's nephew Allen and wife Esther met us at the carpark and walked along with us. On Mt Robert we met Peter Vella going the opposite way to us, trying out his snow shoes.

Maria Brooks


Devil’s Creek Hut – 3 August 2014

Wet and wild Wakamarina

The temperature was a very warm 7°C when 13 keen trampers meet at Millers Acre carpark at 8.00am. I think we only woke up one freedom camper this time (compared to a dozen or so we usually disturb when we arrive there in the summer). There were four cars in the convoy as we headed off towards Canvastown. From there we followed the Wakamarina Road (access from between the river and the hotel) for about 15km to the end of the road, the last few kilometres being really only suitable for vehicles with a high clearance because of having to cross a number of small rivers - very high this time due to the heavy rain the area the previous night.

We started on the track at 9.40am. The going was quite easy as we mainly headed downhill for the first 30 minutes. Just after we crossed the Doom Creek bridge we stopped for a quick cuppa and something to eat. From here the track rises and falls very gently and is a well benched track, giving lots of opportunity to enjoy the scenery. We were lucky enough to see a morepork (or ruru) close to the track; it just stayed on its perch watching us while cameras clicked away. A little further down the track we were investigated by a curious weka. Generally on this trip it is easy to cross the streams on the track by rock hopping without getting your boots wet. Not this time though, substantial waterfalls were cascading down on to the track and the streams were flowing very fast and moderately high.

We arrived at Devil’s Creek Hut at 11.45am. The standard six bunk hut sits in a large clearing above the Wakamarina River with plenty of space for camping outside. As we were having lunch, the weather started to pack up and there was a light drizzle, so we didn’t hang about and started our trip home. The rain really set in on the way back and raincoats came out. At one stage on the way out, a group of goats came running up, crossed the track just in front of us and headed uphill (you could smell them long after they were out of sight). As the weather was against us, we didn’t waste time getting back to the cars and arrived back by just after 2.30pm and made our way back to Nelson.

On the trip were Katie Greer and Geoff Walker (leaders), Diane Jones, Annette Gill, Chris and Jo Ecroyd, Georgina Rayner and Donell Raharuhi. Our visitors on this trip were Stuart and Jo Bryant, Brenda Sinclair, Ian Morris and Vanessa Chapman.

Katie Greer


Goat Hill, Okiwi Bay – 27 July 2014

Scenic Marlborough Sounds

The group met at Millers Acre carpark at 8am and consisted of 16 people including four newcomers. The day started out overcast in Nelson with thick fog in Rai Valley. The fog stayed until the top of the saddle heading into Okiwi Bay. After a short half hour walk, morning tea was taken at the seat overlooking the bay. Due to all rain and storms the track in places was muddy and also a lot of windfall which had been very kindly cleared by the Okiwi Bay community that maintains the track. A second stop was a photo shoot looking out towards Whangarae Bay and Croisilles Harbour. At the top of the hill five members of the party returned to the cars by the road and the rest returned by the track, all meeting at the cars and continuing on to the beach for lunch. Following lunch there was the loo stop and a short walk around the bay before heading back to the cars. The group then drove to Rai Valley for an ice cream stop before returning to Nelson.

Present were Graham Soppit, Pauline Manley, Pat Taylor, Jill Parish, Peter Vella, Julian Edmonds, Donell Raharuhi, Jill and Bob Dickinson, Georgina Rayner, Margaret Carpinter and newcomers Vanessa and Lorraine Brown, Cherie Johnson and Ricky Hartley.

Graham Soppit

Dew Lakes and Maungatapu Peak – 20 July 2014


Steady slog for views

Eleven trampers started walking from the gate before the Maitai Dam on a cloudy cold day. We soon entered pine plantation on a forestry road then turned off onto a regular track on a steady uphill slog. This area is on the boundary of the intriguing mineral belt with areas of open scrubby country as well as patches of bush. After 1¼ hours we reached the Rush Pool which was frozen over after a week of frosts. After a stop at the small Argillite Quarry we continued up the roughish track to the Dew Lakes which were also frozen over. This had taken us three hours in total, but we carried on along the track north for about 20 minutes and climbed up the rocks of Maungatapu highpoint for sweeping views down the Maitai Valley and out across Tasman Bay. It was quite a cold lunch stop sitting in the bush at the base of the rocks then it was a quicker return back to the cars.

We were glad of a good day’s tramp especially worthwhile was the summit view. The trampers were Robert Wopereis, Graham Soppit, Pauline Manley, Pat Taylor, Jill Sheppard, Georgina Rayner, Jo Ecroyd, Don Clementson, Diane Jones and newcomers Tatjana Starosczik and David Kemp.

(This tramp replaced the scheduled trip to Mt Malita because of logging).

Robert Wopereis

Tahunanui Hills and Beach – 13 July 2014

A social ramble

This trip was very laid back and leisurely. First of all, we met at Pat’s place for morning tea and a chat.  Those present were Pat Taylor and Christine Burn (leaders), Katie Greer, Jill Parish, Alan Hart, Georgina Rayner, Brenda Sinclair, Margaret Younger and newcomer Vanessa Chapman. After morning tea, we all puffed our way up the Tamaki St steps, and walked along past the old observatory, before retracing our steps and descending along Bob’s Track, after which we had a panoramic view of the recent slips in the Toi Toi Valley. We then proceeded along Princes Drive before going down Moana Avenue to Tahunanui, where we had lunch in the old historic bus shelter. Some of our group adjourned to the Beach Cafe for coffee. We then walked along past the Modellers Pond to the Back Beach before heading back to Pat’s place and our cars. It was a very short day, but it was still a pleasant outing.

Christine Burn

Wooded Peak – 6 July 2014

Amazing birdlife

Eight trampers commenced tramping from beside the old Brook Dam and headed up Colemans Link track then turned up the steeper and wider track, attaining 300m in height to Four Corners on Cummins Spur. On the way we were surprised to spy a falcon happily perched in the trees close to the track. Then it was a steady grade along the Dun Mountain Walkway with some visible damage from the April storm. The worst area is just before Third House Shelter with large patches of trees bowled over but now cleared from the track. At Junction Saddle, about 20 minutes past Third House, we turned off onto the track to Wooded Peak. The gradient was steady but soon steepened considerably up the leading ridge as we passed through some rock outcrops. About 10 minutes before the summit we had good views south to the Richmond Range. Here we also enjoyed the amazing sounds of the birdlife. A huge number of small birds in the treetops on the sunny side of the peak were chattering away noisily, a delight for us all and an event most of us had never experienced before. While we couldn’t easily sight the birds, our later research indicated they were probably goldfinches. 

We had a lunch stop in the bush on the summit at 1111m marked only by a pole just poking up out of the ground. It had taken us four hours to reach the summit. We then continued along the track and down to Windy Point. About half way down we emerged out of the bush as the cloudy morning cleared to sunny skies. Then it was a steady return back along the broad Dun Mountain Walkway stopping to read the historic display panels and also the small finger posts which indicate the sites of the Lime Kiln, Fourth House and Second House. We made it back to the cars by 5pm which is when the gate before the dam was due to be locked. Despite a full 9½ hour day we enjoyed the tramp with some challenging steep sections. The troop was Robert Wopereis, Geoff Walker, Georgina Rayner, Donell Raharuhi, Pat Taylor, Julian Edmonds, Don Clementson, and newcomer Tatjana Starosczik.

Robert Wopereis



Barnicoat Range Walkway – 29 June 2014


Good local walk

In sunny weather a group of 18 left from Easby Park in Richmond and headed up Richmond Hill, stopping for a cuppa at the fire lookout. We then followed a small track along the ridge meeting up with the walkway road a little further on. It was a little cool on the shady side of the hill. The group stopped for lunch in a sunny spot beside the track and next to a good patch of gorse. Once we reached the hang-glider/paraglider take off point we were lucky enough to see a paraglider take off, a wonderful sight. From here the group split with seven going down Glider Road and the remaining eleven taking another route down to Marsden Valley.

The group was Geoff Walker, Rob Merrilees, Maria Brooks, Alison Mountford, Diane Jones, Val Latimer, Don Clementson, Georgina Rayner, Jo and Chris Ecroyd, Margaret Carpinter, Eddie Runge, Pat Taylor, Katie Greer, Julian Edmonds, Peter Vella (part trip) and newcomers Ken Lefever, David Wheeler and Tatjana Starosczik.

Geoff Walker



Mid-Winter Dinner - Marahau – 20-22 June 2014


Dress-up hilarity


Seven keen trampers enrolled to go to Marahau Camp Cottage at Sandy Bay. This cottage is very comfortable and well stocked and with a lovely warm fire just right for a mid-winter dinner. Six members left on Friday and one member arrived on Saturday morning. We left camp at 9am on Saturday to walk part of the Abel Tasman heading for Holyoake Clearing, which is a little steep in places. The round trip following the Coastal Track took us 6½ hours. Then we continued onto Tinline Bay and back to the cars by 4pm. At the cottage it was hot showers for all.

Then it was party time, cooking up soup, buns, potatoes, pie, lettuce salads, ham, meats, Xmas pudding, Xmas cake and mulled wine. Xmas decorations were hung, table laid with Xmas crackers and $2 presents. The dress up was vice-versa. The men dressed as ladies were gorgeous with blonde wigs, hand bags, lovely tops and those skirts!!! The ladies dressed as men all had lovely shirts and ties and what a problem doing up ties! One guy liked a drop of beer and another smoked a cigar. I said we don't like smokers in the tramping club.

Sunday morning was spent giving the cottage a good clean up and packing up our gear, to finish up a great weekend. We visited Little Kaiteriteri for a stroll on a walkway that looked down over Kaiteriteri and surrounding areas and saw three dolphins at play, also the bird life of tui and fantails. Then it was onto Dummy Bay into Stephens Bay near Tapu Bay. After that it was back to have our lunch in the sunshine at Little Kaiteriteri, arriving home early afternoon. Participants were Pat Taylor, Peter Vella, Katie Greer, Jo and Chris Ecroyd, Maria Brooks and Rob Merrilees.

Pat Taylor

Ruby Bay – 15 June 2014

Happy tramping

The day dawned quite cold to meet twelve great trampers at the Badminton Hall at 9.00am, arriving at Mapua at 9.30am and parking by the tennis courts. Packs were on and it was down the road onto the walkway meeting some cyclists and onto Ruby Bay stopping for morning tea at a rest stop. From here we continued onto McKee Domain where we had lunch and the sun came out. Then it was across the road to a walkway up over the Bluffs and a return inland back to Mapua by 2.30pm finishing off at the White Heron for coffee, cake and ice-cream. 

The happy trampers were Pat Taylor, Ian Sowman, Val Latimer, Noelene Roberts, Georgina Rayner, Kevin & Pam & Brian Meadows, David Wheeler, Jo Ecroyd, Julian Edmonds, with newcomers Andy Underwood and Ken Lefever.


Pat Taylor


Mt Evans – 25 May 2014


Getting lost but then an enjoyable day

The Mt Evans Track is shown on the old 1:50,000 maps but it is no longer signposted or maintained, although it is marked with orange tin lids. The starting point is 5.2 km along the Canaan Road or 300m along the road from Canaan Saddle. Opposite culvert signpost no. 34, the entry into the bush is a further 20 metres back the road up towards the saddle. Unfortunately one vehicle got ahead of the leader and carried on to the end of the Canaan Road before then returning to our starting point. Not good getting lost at the start of the day!

The first section of the track descends for 15 minutes and is a little tricky with mossy ground and many small tree roots. After crossing two small creeks the going is very pleasant, gradually climbing up to a table-sized rock, ideal for a stop. Then it was a steady descent, emerging from the bush onto grassland at the edge of Canaan Downs. We then followed a fenceline for about 15 minutes then turned back into the bush, marked by arrows on the fenceline and a lone waratah out from the fence. We descended to a broad saddle then climbed about 100 metres to the main ridgeline. It was undulating gradient for about 45 minutes before coming upon the 20 or 30 metre high rock outcrops of the summit poking up out of the bush. This had taken us three hours from the start. At the top of the rocks space was limited for our large group of 15 trampers so it was musical chairs taking turns to scramble up and take in all the views. We could see the mighty mountains of Kahurangi to the west but views of Tasman Bay and Waimea Plain were partly obscured by the tree tops. We scoffed our lunch sitting at the base of the rocks out of the cold wind that had blown up strongly during the morning.

Those who had their GPS had seen that the true summit was still a little further along the ridge, so after lunch most of us bush-bashed off the track along to the next small rock outcrop but we were disappointed that there was only a limited view here - except for Rob who climbed a tree. Cloud was building up in the west and it was looking dark and ominous so we made a quick retreat back to the carpark and were glad to escape any rain. The track has only light regrowth in places and is reasonable to follow but the more use the track gets the more worn and better it will become. An enjoyable outing and mostly well sheltered in the bush out of the blustery wind.

The group was Robert Wopereis, Maria Brooks, Rob Merrilees, Pat Taylor, Jill Sheppard, Georgina Rayner, Chris & Jo Ecroyd, Katie Greer, Jocelyn Winn, Guilda Pegg, Steve Markham, with newcomers Ian Morris (Nelson TC), Anne Cegarra and Tatjana Starosczik.

Robert Wopereis




Lakehead Hut – 18 May 2014


A lakeside walk

 Leaving Richmond at 7.30 am allowed our rather large party of 16 to be on our way from Kerr Bay up to Lakehead hut just before 9 am. Although a bit fresh, sunny conditions and a mirror calm lake made for an excellent start to the day. The walk skirts around the lake, winding around and above the many small bays and coves. One of these provided a very pleasant morning tea stop where were able to soak up the warmth of the sun’s rays. The track which is well trodden and easy to follow is mostly flat, just climbing a few metres above the water on occasions. It passes through beautiful native beech forest and provides a mixture of leafy, muddy and stony surfaces. Soon after midday we all reached the hut where we enjoyed a long lunch break socialising in the sun.

Not long into the homeward journey the weather began to change and a cool wind soon chopped up the lake. Not the sort of conditions that made one want to linger. With just one short break to refuel we were all back to the cars around 3.45 pm. Overall, a very pleasant day shared with good company.

Members of the party were: Maria Brooks, Jo Ecroyd, Katie Greer, Julian Edmonds, Annette Gill, Pam Meadows, Rob Merrilees, Alison Mountfort, Donell Raharuhi, Georgina Rayner, Noelene Roberts, Pat Taylor, Geoff Walker, Jan Winter, Robert Wopereis and visitor Diane Jones.

Jo Ecroyd



Chrome Mine – 11 May 2014


Historic mine and fascinating stonework

Plan B, the alternative to the Lodestone trip due to the closure of the Graham Valley Road because of a washout, was the Chrome Mine in the Hacket area. With a perfect weather forecast the group left Richmond for the Hacket picnic area. On route one vehicle was left at the exit point on the Serpentine Road to transport the drivers back. A difficult creek crossing provided Don an opportunity to test his fairly new 4WD with some backup. After a safety briefing the group set out from the Hacket picnic area fully rugged up, "Polar Alley" the first section to the bridge was freezing. Upon reaching the bridge we started to thaw out and upon reaching the creek crossing to Whispering Falls we were down to shorts and T-shirts. A look at the fast flowing creek deterred our climb to the falls so we stopped to enjoy morning tea.

The moderate grunt to the mine area opened up into typical scrubby mineral terrain, with flax and speargrass and interesting rock and mineral formations. Jill demonstrated her past caving skills by entering the entrance to a horizontal shaft, but it was only two metres long. After exploring the area we then carried on past the DOC sign, "this track is no longer maintained". The track is in good shape following the old mine road with some very interesting bridge work - constructed from stones by the early miners. A lunch stop was taken on one of these bridges. During lunch geology of the area was explained, a platinum nugget displayed and mention that the mineral area affected the declination of a compass. The short gorse became thick but Eddie being suitably dressed was armed with gloves and secateurs and made short work of it. After some track clearing we descended the old mine road which is steep, extremely loose and rutted with gullies. The group arrived at the Serpentine Road at 3pm. Vehicle drivers were taken to collect their vehicles returning to pick up the others. Those on trip were Peter Vella, Geoff Walker, Jocelyn Winn, Jill Sheppard, Eddie Runge, Don Clementson, Andrew Henderson, Georgina Rayner and newcomer Anja Claus.

Peter Vella




Red Hills Hut – 4 May 2014

Two plateau tramps

 Ten keen trampers met at Richmond in very cold conditions with the threat of heavy rain coming, and left for the St Arnaud area at 8.05am. We arrived at the Red Hills carpark about 9.15am with the air temperature at 3 degrees so there wasn’t much hanging about catching up, it was straight in to walking to warm up.

The first part of this trip is a small river crossing, then a clamber over a fallen tree and then a slight climb to walk along a treed ridge until you descend to a farm paddock with two old derelict houses; one being an extremely old cob house from the 1800s, the other a wooden construction. After a quick look at the old homes we continued on. From this point we walked on a wide 4WD formed track all the way to Red Hills Hut. The track itself isn’t particularly interesting, but the views down into the Wairau Valley and over to the St Arnaud hills are great. On the way up we met a group from the Nelson Rock & Mineral Club fossicking as the track is right on the southern boundary of the mineral belt. We arrived at the hut around 11.30am, had an early lunch and the group split into two parties to explore the area. 

Five of us headed down the Porters Creek Track thinking that we could head to one of the ridges and possibly get some good views down into the Motueka Valley. The track was very boggy in places; as Jan discovered when she stepped into what looked like a small muddy puddle and was suddenly in thick mud halfway up her legs - we really would have helped pull her out if we could have stopped laughing long enough. After an hour walking away from the hut we decided the views weren’t going to be there so we headed back and met up with the others.

After lunch the other five members of the group chose to head upwards onto the Red Hills plateau.  The terrain there is somewhat uneven but everyone reached the top within an hour. It was very pleasant soaking up the views in calm conditions. We all met up at the hut after a few hours and after a quick cuppa and a bite to eat the group all headed back to the cars for the trip home. The weather was kind to us and we didn’t get a drop of rain.

On the trip were Katie Greer and Chris Ecroyd (leaders), Jo Ecroyd, Julian Edmonds, Annette Gill, Don Clementson, Robert Wopereis, Geoff Walker, Georgina Rayner and Jan Winter.

Katie Greer



Flora - Asbestos crossover – 6 April 2014

Satisfying crossover trip

It is several years since the club has done this crossover.  We had nine contenders, five leaving from the Cobb end. We left the Cobb Road at 9am in perfect weather. The bush made for pleasant walking on a warm day, obviously autumn with the appearance of the orange coprosma berries, blue turutu, and orangy, blue and white varieties of mingimingi berries as well as wineberry, olearia...  Morning tea stop was at the mine. Around there, we trod over asbestos and related minerals as well as the orange-brown iron-bearing rock outcrops; a somewhat barren but geologically rich belt. A half-hour rock hop saw us up at the Asbestos Cottage. Who remembered to call Annie to alert her to our approach?  What tenacity they had living so self-sufficiently in such isolation and a harsh environment, still retaining the niceties of the times. On our way down to the Broken Bridge, we met the other half of the group who were making quick time. We lunched near the bridge above the Takaka River, and then continued upstream to the track junction about 20 minutes before Gridiron. Glimpses of Lodestone told us we were nearing Flora Hut where we had a break. Then, we just had the remaining rise over Flora Saddle and back to the car at 4pm, taking 7 hours. The Asbestos to Flora group was Jocelyn Winn, Geoff Walker, Katie Greer, Georgina Rayner and Andrew Henderson

The five heading from Flora to Asbestos left the Flora carpark for the short climb to Flora Saddle then soon arrived at Flora Hut but did not stop here and continued at a brisk pace along the wide track above Flora Stream. Further on, we had a break for a cuppa at the unique little three-bunk Upper Gridiron Hut tucked tightly under a large rock face, a short climb above the main track. We continued down the track, which was busy with trampers returning from a near-full Salisbury Lodge. We turned off at the Upper Junction and dropped down to cross a swingbridge over Flora Stream and then along the shady side of the valley on a steady track for about half an hour and the next swingbridge across the Takaka River. Ten minutes later we met the crossover group where we swapped car keys then continued the climb up the sunny side of the valley to Asbestos Cottage. We savoured our lunch outside on the grass trying to imagine how Henry and Annie Chaffey could endure the isolation here for 37 years. We travelled down past the interesting abandoned asbestos mine and then the small collection of ironware spread out on the trackside nearby.

Then it was back into the bush on a wide track at a steady gradient and out to the Cobb Road. This had taken us 6¼ hours altogether, which was quicker in this direction because of the total drop in altitude of about 500m. The Flora to Asbestos group was Robert Wopereis, Chris Louth, Jenny Symons and Donell Raharuhi. Overall a satisfying crossover trip, completed without any problems.

Jocelyn Winn / Robert Wopereis


 Mt Arthur – 30 March 2014

Big crowd on a big mountain 

The phone was running hot with calls for this trip resulting in a big turnout of 23 trampers including eight newcomers for what is arguably the most popular mountain in the Nelson region. The day was fine but with high cloud as we ambled away from Flora carpark and up to Mt Arthur Hut. Much of this section of track has been recently resurfaced with crushed rock from the Graham Valley slip but this does make it tougher on the feet. We enjoyed a deserved break at Mt Arthur Hut then climbed up out of the bush on a well-worn poled route up the main ridge. The gradient was mostly steady but there were steeper sections to test the lungs. The pleasant tussock vegetation was interspersed with areas of marble ground and nearby sinkholes. The section of the ridge with a loose stony surface was a challenge for two people but with the leader’s encouragement this was carefully negotiated. Eventually the summit was reached by the entire group taking 3½ hours from the start. The views were superb but the unpleasant wind forced us to stop for lunch below the summit ridge.

On our descent we regrouped again at the hut and returned safely to the carpark despite one person suffering with cramp and another with knee problems. A good day’s tramping especially for some of the group who had not reached the summit before.

The group was Robert Wopereis, Chris & Jo Ecroyd, Katie Greer, Ruth Henry, Graham Soppit, Pauline Manley, Jill & Murray Sheppard, Andrew Henderson, Geoff Walker, Georgina Rayner, Christine Hoy, Ken Ridley, Peter Vella and newcomers Andrea Creed, Donell Raharuhi, Maudie Barron, David Wheeler, Andy Underwood, John Perrin, Sue Parkes and Dongrui Pang.

Robert Wopereis 


Wangapeka Valley Camp – 21-23 March 2014

Splendid camping and tramping

With the promise of plenty of sunshine for the weekend ahead, two cars of trampers left Richmond late on Friday afternoon bound for Siberia Flat, a DOC campsite which adjoins Rolling River at the start of the Wangapeka Track. At the campsite we met up with Peter who had enjoyed a successful day’s fishing on the river. We all appreciated sampling the beautifully cooked fruits of his labour with dinner. The sandflies lived up to their reputation of being particularly ferocious, so we were relieved once they went to bed at dusk. A camp fire added atmosphere to our evening.

The weather on Saturday was glorious, ideal for the walk up to the historic Cecil Kings Hut. Despite the track over the slip proving to be a little challenging for some, we made good time and reached the hut for lunch. After a prolonged break here we turned tail and headed back to our campsite at a leisurely pace, arriving back just on 6pm. Wasps were not too much of an issue during the day with only one person getting stung. Once we got back to camp one hardy soul chose to go for a swim; the rest of us were more intent on covering up from the sandflies and getting dinner underway.

Sunday morning dawned pretty cool. There was still frost on the ground at Courthouse Flat when we arrived there just after 9am. Our first point of interest was the Lutine Pool. Our intention had been to continue on from here to the Dorian Mine. However, our efforts were thwarted by a huge tree which had fallen along the track. With no chance of being able to get around it we turned back and found a lovely sunny spot for morning tea. Most of us relished the opportunity to thaw out. We spent the rest of the morning walking up to the Blue Creek Resurgence. Highlights of this walk were the alluvial mining area, machinery transport from the 1870’s, the Culliford Quartz crushing battery and the resurgence itself. We headed back to Courthouse Flat for lunch but the huge number of bees and wasps made life quite difficult so we didn’t linger too long. From here it was back to Siberia Flat to pack up our beautifully dried tents and out to Kohatu for a final chat over coffee and ice-creams before heading home.

Those on the trip were Jo Ecroyd, Jocelyn Winn, Alison and David Mountfort, Eddie Runge, Pat Taylor, Peter Vella and newcomer Anja Claus.

Jo Ecroyd


Mt Rutland – 9 March 2014


More road than bush


A large troop of 18 trampers headed down the Pelorus Valley then crossed Daltons Bridge and parked in a farm paddock at 221 Kaiuma Bay Road. We started off on a mucky farm race then endured a lengthy slog up a rough 4WD road zigzagging up previously logged slopes.

We climbed up a grassy ridgeline and soon entered bush. There is no marked track here but the leading ridge through mature beech forest was fairly straightforward to follow. Higher up the ridgeline steepened before we reached a highpoint at 939m marked only by a short pole. This had taken us three hours from the cars. The fine day had clouded over; obscuring the little view there was available here. After lunch all except two of us continued along an undulating ridge, involving some light bush bashing, for a further 20 minutes to a small wooden trig at 944m. This was our planned destination even though the true summit at 1008m was still about an hour away.

We did not stop long here and by the time we had dropped down out of the bush we were below the cloud and enjoyed a stop with a splendid view up the Pelorus Valley to peaks of the Richmond Range. When we returned to the cars we had completed a full seven hour day. This was an interesting day and a new tramp for all except two of us. There was more road walking than through the bush, but next time we would try to use more suitable vehicles and drive further up the farm road. The troop was Jeff Lukey, Robert Wopereis, Jocelyn Winn, Katie Greer, Pat Taylor, Andrew Henderson, Rob Merrilees, Maria Brooks, Julian Edmonds, Lou Kolff, Don & Nicola & Thomas Morrisey, Ken Ridley, Graeme Muir, Jane Wickham, Jill Sheppard and newcomer Donell Raharuhi.

Robert Wopereis




Captain Creek Hut – 2 March 2014


Picturesque Pelorus


It was a very cold autumn morning as ten trampers left from the Pelorus Valley road end, 13km up the valley from Pelorus Bridge. The track stayed close to the river at the start then soon crossed a short swing bridge across a side creek. After one hour we reached Emerald Pool at a large dogleg in the river. This deep hole has a good riverbank and a nearby picnic table. Seven of us carried on while three people were happy to stay and enjoy the swimming and sunbathing. From here the track climbs up away from the river for 15 to 20 minutes then sidles for about two hours before zigzagging down closer to the river again. Then a further 30 minutes later we arrived at Captain Creek Hut taking us 3¾ hours in total. Most of the group enjoyed a swim in the wide river in front of the hut although it wasn’t quite hot enough for two people to be persuaded into the water.

We all returned back to the start satisfied with the eight hour day and pleased to avoid any wasp stings. On the way home we were all tempted by ice creams at Rai Valley. The group was Christine Burn, Robert Wopereis, Jan Winter, Ian Sowman, Jill Sheppard, Andrew Henderson, Peter Vella, Herta Eger, Julian Edmonds and newcomer Anja Claus.

It is interesting to note that the name Pelorus was given by Lieutenant Chetwode who explored Pelorus Sound in the ship HMS Pelorus for 10 days in September 1838. Perhaps the ship was named after a pelorus which resembles a compass, with sighting vanes or a sighting telescope attached. The instrument was named for one Pelorus, said to have been the pilot for Hannibal, circa 203 BC.

Robert Wopereis

Murchison – 21-23 February 2014

A few short walks

On Friday evening three carloads of trampers plus Maria and Rob's caravan emerged from the Nelson cloud and fog into glorious sunshine in Murchison and pulled up at a little cottage in Fairfax St, our accommodation for the next two nights. Despite not having any power it proved ideal for our needs and very soon eight of us had found a spot on the floor on which to position our air beds or sleeping mats. After dinner the warm balmy conditions were ideal for a stroll through the town.

On Saturday the plan had been for the blokes to climb Mount Mantell and for the ladies to wander up to Lake Matiri. However, low cloud and drizzle and a forecast of heavy morning rain thwarted those plans. Instead we settled for the three short walks nearby. First up was the historical Six Mile Walkway starting at the power station which operated for over 50 years from 1922 until 1975. We continued up the valley until we reached the remnants of one of the storage lakes before returning. The round trip took two hours. After an early lunch during which we celebrated Katie's birthday with banana cake, the clouds cleared and we headed off up the Skyline Walk. This was a straight forward 90 minute return trip during which we enjoyed excellent views of all the surrounding valleys. Our final wander for the day was along Johnson Creek up to the giant slip which formed in the 1929 Murchison earthquake. Even now, some 85 years on, one is able to get a good idea of the magnitude of this shake. This very pleasant walk through native bush takes two hours return. Most people enjoyed a quiet Saturday evening "at home" rather than joining the locals at the pub being entertained by Tim Shadbolt and Gary McCormack.

On Sunday more drizzle with predictions of heavy rain and high winds again put paid to any idea of heading up the mountain, instead we all headed up to Lake Matiri. With the 4WD track from the car park up to road end being lined with blackberry bushes loaded with fat juicy fruit, many members of the group were a bit slower than usual. Once across the West Branch the track continued across farmland beside the main river. The track across the face of an old slip has disappeared into the river so there is a short section of boulder hopping before climbing back onto the original track through the forest. Drizzle, together with a plague of sandflies saw many of us head into the hut for lunch. The weather throughout the return trip was fickle to say the least; short bursts of rain, sunshine, wind and cloud. The trip along the lower reaches of the track was again quite slow as most people chose to fill various containers they were carrying with blackberries. Even with the distraction of blackberries and taking time out for lunch the return trip was completed within the recommended six hours. After a quick brew and a final clean-up of the old cottage most of us headed back to Nelson while Chris and Jo continued onto Christchurch.

Participants in this enjoyable social weekend were Chris and Jo Ecroyd, Rob Merrilees, Maria Brooks, Robert Wopereis, Andrew Henderson, Katie Greer, Pat Taylor, Val Latimer and Alison Mountfort.

Jo Ecroyd




Mid Goulter Hut – 15-16 February 2014

Ideal summer tramping

Ten keen trampers gathered in glorious weather by the Branch River power station preparing to cross the braids of the Wairau River. No, there was just one braid and only knee deep at that. Then more river bed then over the Goulter [there was considerable quarrying going on 50m upstream and a new forestry road continuing further along the north bank] and onto the road for 4-5km to the carpark area. Descending to the river bed, the eight bunk Lower Goulter Hut was reached far too early for lunch, so further up the river we found a shady spot by a deep pool with at least three trout. [Here the stone game of Duck versus Pig Farts was vigorously contested]. The temp at 27°C made the numerous river crossings very pleasant. This part of the Goulter is a series of blue-green deep pools linked by flat stretches of smooth bottomed calm water - well known for its ‘fishability’ and easy walking. We arrived at the eight bunk Mid Goulter Hut situated just above a long grassy flat after 5¼ hours altogether. While all our party had tents, the hut had been upgraded last year enabling two of our crew to sleep on the veranda whilst another two slept inside. A most welcome swim (brief and accompanied by gasps) was had in the deeper water in the shade by some after a very hot day! A perfect night with a full moon followed.

After an easy start on another cloudless day we mostly followed the river on our return – the party splitting - a few on the road, the others on the river bed for a period before joining the road again. We stopped for lunch at what must be the largest pool(s) in the river in the shade of a very large beech tree. Following the river again we found the old road on the true right that made easier walking, and then back to the Wairau and our vehicles. Ice cream and cake was hosted by Maria and Rob at Wakefield. A delicious end to a lovely weekend with great company on a beautiful river.

The trampers were: Jill Sheppard, Robert Wopereis, Maria Brooks, Rob Merrilees, Jane Wickham, Graeme Muir, Jo and Chris Ecroyd, Andrew Henderson, and visitor Steve Henry.

Jill Sheppard


Pelorus Trig – 9 February 2014

Tramping,  swimming, good company - bliss

 We met at Millers Acre carpark at 8.00am on a beautiful sunny morning. I think we woke a number of freedom campers judging by the number of bleary-eyed people who emerged from various vehicles around us.

We left in two car loads and arrived at the Pelorus carpark about 8.45am and eight keen trampers headed off towards the Trig K walk.  The walks in this area are well signposted and maintained, so it was a very pleasant walk in shady bush with a gentle gradient that allowed for lots of new conversations with old friends. We found a spot that wasn’t swarming with wasps and enjoyed a lengthy morning tea stop where Julian entertained us with the story of the last Japanese soldier to surrender after the war. We arrived at the summit at 11.20am, had a quick break and then headed down towards the second waterfall where we had lunch. On a hot day, it was an ideal spot really, sitting in the shade by a bubbling waterfall and a lovely deep green pool. The bush on the return trip was great to walk through; the trees allowed a view through and down into the valleys and there was a reasonable amount of bird life. There wasn’t the same abundance of fungi in the area to be seen on this trip and judging by the low flow in the first waterfall the conditions may have been very dry recently.

We arrived back at the carpark by 2.00pm and enjoyed an ice-cream at the tearooms, then headed off to the river for a swim or paddle. The water was slightly chilly, but very soothing on hot feet. Only one person stayed out of the water - and one trip leader who was only going to paddle; but with minimum encouragement she leaped in fully clothed.

On the trip were Katie Greer, Ian Sowman (leaders), Jan Winter, Julian Edmonds, Annette Gill, Val Latimer, and visitors James Basckay and Rod Spence.

Katie Greer  



Branch Creek Hut – 1-3 February 2014

Hidden valley

Six trampers started out at 8.45am from Owen Valley East Road on a mild sunny morning and headed up Frying Pan Creek. Knowing that the hut had only six bunks we were relieved when we discovered that the occupants of three cars parked in the paddocks were rock climbers exploring the Fyfe gorge and not trampers. After a climb up a ridge we dropped down into the Fyfe River valley and by lunch time we were at the locked DOC biv used as a base for the trapping programme to protect the whio (blue duck). The track appeared to have had little recent use and we soon found it was rather overgrown in places with ferns and tall grasses and all very wet from heavy dew.

The track in the upper part of the Fyfe was a narrow “goat track” across slips in places and, with patches of ongaonga (stinging nettle) and lots of hook sedge, long gaiters were essential protection. With the aid of walking poles we all managed the 25 shallow but very slippery river crossing without mishap. The track passes through spectacular middle and upper gorges with limestone cliffs looming high above the track. It was great to see three whio in the river. There are numbered stoat traps every 100m and we arrived at the hut after 8½ hours to find it was near trap 7 not trap 1 as expected, which was quite a relief for many of us.

With promising weather on Sunday morning we decided to head for the tops quite early but our departure was delayed somewhat when one member couldn’t find their sock. Everyone was encouraged to search their packs and the hut. The missing sock was eventually found by an observant member of the group - on the owner’s foot!! We were soon away and headed up a pleasant track to the bush edge north of the hut. There was no stopping our party until were on top of Replica Hill with only one very deep gully between us and Mt Owen, one kilometre away and which is only 53m higher. We had great views across Kahurangi and were able to watch numerous others climb Mt Owen. Granity Pass hut must have been full or overflowing but we had a hut to ourselves.


On our way out on Monday we climbed up to a low saddle above the DOC biv and into Sandstone Creek. While this 100 m climb was easy there were some complaints about the rough track down into the Sandstone. The track in the Sandstone is marked as a trapping line and no longer a tramping track. Near trap 44 we managed to find a shortcut and climbed another 100m out of the Sandstone and back onto the main track into Frying Pan Creek. It took us 8½ hours to walk out to the cars.

We all enjoyed the very vocal birdlife in the Fyfe and Sandstone valleys and saw or heard 13 different species of native bird during the weekend: falcon, kea, kaka, rifleman, robin, whio, bellbird, fantail, tui, tomtit, kakariki, grey warbler and kereru. In the forest there were fine examples of the delicate Prince of Wales feathers fern, a beautiful large native mountain foxglove in flower and on the tussock tops an abundance of native gentians flowering.

On the trip were: Chris and Jo Ecroyd, Marie Firth, Robert Wopereis, Andrew Henderson and Christine Hoy.

Chris Ecroyd


Parachute Rocks – 19 January 2014

Birdlife spotting

Four car loads departed from Wakefield at 7.45am and travelled to Kerr Bay, Lake Rotoiti. It was a little cool but once we got walking we soon warmed up. The track was well defined and well graded up through the bush. Above the bush line the sun was shining but there was a cool breeze. The views from Parachute Rocks were awesome. The lake was a deep blue with a few boats on it and many people were gathering for the Nelson Lakes Festival.

The St Arnaud Range was beckoning so many in our group, after having had lunch, walked the half hour up to the ridge line. The rest enjoyed a more leisurely lunch and relax on Parachute Rocks. Once we had regrouped the descent down began. Some walked back more quickly so they enjoyed a coffee from a stall while they waited at the cars.

The birds we saw were: bellbirds, tuis, rifleman, finches, grey warblers, pipits, a tomtit, a fantail, and a kaka flying overhead. A great day in the bush and on the tops.

Those on the trip were: Maria Brooks, Geoff Walker, Rob Merrilees, Bob and Jill Dickinson, Alison and David Mountford, Christine Burn, Jan Winter, Jo Ecroyd, Bernard Molloy, Christine Hoy, Jill Sheppard, Georgina Rayner, Eddie Runge, and visitors Mary Stebbings and Tim Horne. 

Maria Brooks



Hamilton River - Begley Creek circuit – 11-12 January 2014

 A classic adventure and a belated Christmas party

Fortunately, after a period of unsettled weather, the forecast for this trip actually looked possible. By the time we had organised a vehicle for the Rainbow end and checked in at the old Rainbow homestead, we were ready to walk at 9.30am. Information we had suggested we had a six hour day. Although I was sceptical, we knew we had the bonus of long daylight hours.The track in the lower Hamilton was pleasant walking though not frequently trodden. At the first clearing we paused for morning tea...a beautiful morning in a beautiful valley. Soon after that, the track petered out necessitating bush bashing or boulder hopping. The day was warming up as we lunched in the shade just after the bend in the river. From there we could see the head of the valley, awesome, but still some distance away. Then after what seemed endless boulder bashing, we began the climb up through mountain totara on the true left of the valley, shortly crossing over the creek to follow a boulder lead towards a small knob on the true left of a gully which descended from the eastern (1672m) pass. Once there, we soaked in the magnificent scenery. A cairn marked it, the first marking we had seen for a long way. Next, a steep descent – boulders, snowgrass and more speargrass in full flower. An odd chamois was seen. No, the upper Begley does not have a marked track, but we found tracks on the true left. Later, we crossed then recrossed the Begley to avoid a particularly steep hillside. Progress was slow, such that we were relieved to arrive at the eight bunk and empty hut before dark. Chris’s GPS had been a great encouragement to get us there.


We had a party that night thanks to a family from Melbourne who were the last previous visitors at Christmas. Because they had helicoptered in, they had brought, and left an excess of Christmas goodies. Our fireplace and ceiling were festooned with battery Christmas lights. We partook of Christmas pudding, marshmallows....and even Christmas toilet paper out yonder!
Because we were aware of an approaching front, we made an early start in pristine surroundings, good weather AND track markers! However, some have fallen with windfall or the river washing in – a contrast to the perfect sections of original track. So we had no difficulty reaching the confluence within the expected two hours. Once in the open we crossed the rivers which were running “fresh”. We soon decided that for the sake of the shorter legged, that we should link ready for the swifter and deeper parts where some of us were getting wet shorts. Soon after, we were back on the true left to climb the bulldozed track (brave driver) which avoided an impressive gorge. Next, back to crossing river braids to pick up tracks through matagouri, vipers bugloss, a dwarf muelenbeckia, helichrysm...with a rising wind buffeting us along. Lunch was beside a clump of gooseberries. The sky up valley was becoming whiter and we were pushing into a cold head wind of the approaching front. Still more gooseberries to be picked for someone’s pie, then a final braid crossing to the true left for the remaining distance to the vehicle. It was 1.30pm, six hours from the hut.
The happy adventurers were: Jocelyn Winn, Jill Sheppard, Chris and Jo Ecroyd, Joy Bryant and Robert Wopereis.

We do appreciate the transport providers who made it all possible. 

Jocelyn Winn