Trip Reports, August-November 2017




Download the printed version
of the newsletter (10 pages colour), as a  PDF file. It's crammed full of the most recent club Trip Reports. This is a small 2.4 megabyte file, complete with news, graphics, colour photographs & hyperlinks to other sites.

  1. Scotts Knob | Leatham Conservation Area
  2. Days Track circuit | Nelson
  3. Hacket Hut | Mt Richmond FP
  4. Wooded Peak | Nelson
  5. Navigation Training Weekend | Kahurangi NP
  6. John Reid Hut recce | Kahurangi NP
  7. Inland Track | Abel Tasman NP
  8. Lake Chalice & Mt Patriarch | Mt Richmond FP
  9. Leadership Training Weekend | Paretai Lodge

 25–27 August 2017 | Scotts Knob | Leatham Conservation Area
Leader: Mike Drake









We departed Nelson at 2:00pm on Friday. With Steve driving along with Leah, we collected Pat and Chris and headed to Belgrove. Mike arrived soon after and we loaded up Mike’s Hilux 4WD and headed towards the Leatham off the Wairau Valley.

A bit hopeful of the river and stream crossings ahead, we chatted away until reaching the Leatham River where we all piled out to inspect the flow and check for boulders. All looked good, so through we went emerging on the other side without floating off downstream. We made it up the Branch River with comments flying that the various fords had been greatly improved compared to the previous experiences of some group members.

Wet tracks coming out of the side crossings indicated there may be someone ahead. When we arrived at Greigs Hut there was one person awaiting the remainder of an NZAC group. We settled into the smaller of the two bunkrooms and prepared dinner.

Jerome Waldron from NZAC offered some route advice then we headed off to bed. It was a rowdy night with hunting party arriving, then returning in the small hours. This seemed to merge with the super-early starters from NZAC. Peace finally settled in the hut, but then Mike’s alarm sounded so it was time to begin our day, which dawned clear and cool.

We set off at 7:00am sharp from Greigs Hut (600m a.s.l), over the swing bridge which crosses the Branch River and onto the route Jerome had marked with red tape through the wilding pines (on the true right of Scotts Stream). An hour and a half in, Chris made the decision to return back down the track with back pain. He spent the day walking to Siberia Hut before returning to Greigs to light the fire and await our return. Now a party of four, we soon took our first break in the morning sun before continuing on up to the head of the valley.

Upon reaching the snow, we met a member of the NZAC party who had decided to turn back. Not long after, we donned crampons with the snow getting steeper in the gully, although still quite soft. We took another break a bit further up near the saddle. Looking down the valley and out over the tops it was clear we had already gained significant height.

At 2000m altitude, high cloud  covered our destination peak. We knew we still had some distance still to climb. Around the back of Scotts Knob we climbed through steep snow basins.

At 12.30pm we crossed paths with Jerome’s party, having completed their summit. We had a brief chat, thanking them for the steps they had punched in the breakable crust. This made our journey easier up the long gully to the final ridge.

As we crested the ridge, the wind hit us. We layered up before climbing the steep, westward slope towards the clouded summit. The trig (2160m) was visible through the whiteout, as we arrived at 1.15pm and posed beside it for the compulsory photos.

Unfortunately, visibility was marginal, so we didn’t stop for long. A quick bite of Mike’s famous Muesli Bar, then we set off. But not before a brief window allowed for a small glimpse of the surrounding mountains.

This was Leah’s first trip of this nature and the experienced group offered guidance for both the ascent and the descent. This was greatly appreciated, as she was a little apprehensive on some sections.

And so we all ventured cautiously down the mountain with much banging of crampons to reduce balling. Steve made some calculated bum-slides.

With snow conditions softened, we removed our crampons. We brushed past spaniards and scrub following the rough route down the valley again. The light began to fade. Our legs tired. We returned to the hut by 5.45pm. A good effort for the day!

We took satisfaction in removing our boots and relaxing into the hut for the evening with all members of our group present and accounted for. By candle light we exchanged stories and enjoyed Leah’s fine sticky date pudding.

After a quiet night in the hut, we awoke rested, but stiff. After breaky, Pat suggested a little wander to loosen up. Mike successfully transported us safely across the fords, then to Belgrove via St Arnaud for coffee.

Alpinists were Mike Drake, Patrick Holland, Chris Louth, Steve McGlone and Leah Parker (scribe).

10 September 2017 | Wooded Peak | Nelson
Leader: Barry James

Although the day dawned fair, there were two of us for this excellent, but energetic, day walk.

Thence by car to the Brook and we started walking at 8:45am through the Redwood grove and onto the old, classic 4WD road which now runs beside the  pest-proof fence.  At Four Corners, we diverted onto the historic Dun Mountain Walkway.

After two hours’ walking on the pleasant bush trail, we reached Third House where we took an extended break in weak sunshine. After tall stories from two blokes on a quad-bike, we chatted with a Waimea TC group, then pressed on up the walkway about a kilometre to Junction Saddle. Here, a track goes left to Fringed Hill and right up the ridge to Wooded Peak. This is quite an extended route, steep in parts and with several minor saddles.

There was some snow all about as we got higher and the bush was dripping wet. No tarrying at the 1111-metre summit, 1.5 hours from the saddle, due to poor views and a chill breeze.

So, off we plunged, down the track along the ridge, towards Windy Point. After emerging from the bush into the ultramafic area, we found a sheltered spot behind some rocks. A late lunch was had in the sunshine with splendid views. There was an amazing diversity of colours in this scene.

At Windy Point we rejoined the Dun Mountain Walkway. The sun fled behind ominous black clouds, so we also fled back down the trail with light rain catching us. We pressed on past Junction Saddle.

We stopped at Third House shelter until the squall declined to light drizzle. An uneventful retracing of our steps down the walkway had us back at the car by 4:30pm. A grand outing into that splendid diversity of bush and mountain country on Nelson’s back door. Trampers were Barry James & Pat Holland (scribe).

10 September 2017 | Days track circuit | Nelson
Leader: David Blunt

Nearly six years ago a slip destroyed the middle section of Days Track which runs between Rocks Rd and Toi Toi Street. Some thought it may never reopen again. However, at great expense it did get reinstated with an official reopening on September 6th.

Starting at the Lions playground at Tahunanui beach, a small group made the climb up from Rocks Road to Princes Drive, then back down via The Cliffs to Basin Reserve.

A feature of the track is a new mosaic couch created by a dedicated neighbourhood group making it into an impressive work of art. The view from the couch looks across the beach to the Mt Arthur Range covered by a heavy fall of snow.

It was a very pleasant morning walk enjoyed by all.

Walkers were Rod & Carol Lewis, Brenda, Shelly & Jake Sinclair, Stuart Slack & David Blunt.

8 October 2017 | Hacket Hut | Mount Richmond Forest Park
Leader: Pat Holland

If 75mm of rain in Nelson on Saturday did not put you off, then the continuing dire weather forecast for Sunday might have.

So, the seven initial punters became three brave souls professing not to mind a bit of rain.

However, at 9:00am in the Hacket carpark, we had brightening cloud with only intermittent fine drizzle and no wind. And so it remained for the rest of the day with parkas coming off and then on again. So much for the forecasts: rubbish as usual. The Roding River was brown and roaring. We were pleased to cross using the first bridge.

The track was in good order if rather wet in places. We made good time to Hacket Hut, pleased to use the final bridge as the river crossing was very swollen and fast flowing, well beyond the usual boulder hop. We had passed three disconsolate young trampers coming out with big packs. They had been unable to progress up the Hacket River to begin the Alpine Circuit.

The hut is in good order, although we noted the lack of both firewood and wooden forms. After a break we went on the side track over the saddle towards the Browning track, expecting to have to turn back at the river. However, it was already dropping and we were able to cross knee-deep with linked arms. We then continued up the track to Browning Hut.

The forest was beautiful with the wet foliage in weak sunlight. Lunch was eaten at the hut, also in very good order, complete with wooden forms.

We returned to the car park by the exact reverse route via Hacket Hut, having decided the crossing of the swollen Hackett on the direct route would be too tricky.

Kath spotted a good patch of water cress for harvesting in a side creek. An excellent day out and all the more rewarding for having correctly discounted the forecast. [18 km | 6.5 hrs.]

Walkers were Pat Holland, Kath Ballantine & Philip Palmer.

14–15 October 2017 | Navigation Training Weekend
Organiser: Liz Henderson | Instructor: Mike Glover
Venue: Nelson Hospital & Lodestone (Kahurangi NP)

Thanks to Liz Henderson, our new Training & Safety Coordinator, the Nelson Tramping Club’s annual Navigation Weekend has been resurrected!

Saturday: Mike Glover and 17 eager participants gathered at the Hospital Seminar Centre for a classroom-style session on navigating in the New Zealand backcountry. Mike has a great programme that he has developed over the years including pictures, slides and maps. Topics covered included map reading, compass bearings and navigating using a compass and map. It was a great day with lots of practical exercises to reinforce the learning. For first timers it can be confusing and the exercises really put the puzzle together and everything made sense; more experienced participants were able to help the newbies and review their own knowledge.

Sunday: we headed up to Flora carpark to put our newly-learned skills into practice on the slopes on Lodestone. Mike had done a reccy a couple weeks before and was ready to test our abilities and preconceived notions.

We reached Flora Saddle and took a compass bearing to the first high point. We headed off into the bush using runners and spotters to make sure we were staying true to our compass bearing. Mike was right. He had warned us that our tendency would be to pull toward the ridge and not trust the bearing. Lo and behold, we stayed true to the compass, arriving at our lunch break spot on the 1260-metre high point.

After lunch we did some more navigation practice by heading off the other side of the ridge to find the marked track to Lodestone which was not accurately shown on the map; another little navigation trap for us to learn.

We then navigated to another high point on the ridge and did some triangulation on nearby peaks before heading back up to our 1260 high point and taking another compass bearing back down in a straight line to Flora Hut.

A big thank you to Liz for organising the weekend and providing lovely snacks and nibbles on the Saturday and to Mike for his passion in sharing his knowledge with others.

Participants: Liz Henderson, Kate Krawczyk (scribe), Madeline Roeher, Nina Solter, Graeme Ferrier, Penny Parker, Donna Parker, Debbie Hogan, Gabrielle Blakemore, Nicole McGill, Dale Giles, Kath Ballantine, Ian Morris, Wayne Bicknell, Warren Horne, Tracey Castleton & Kathy Smith.

20–21 October 2017 | John Reid Hut recce | Kahurangi National Park
Leader: Silvano Lorandi

View the Video of our trip here: JOHN REID HUT RECCE

Never one to waste an opportunity, I jumped at the chance of a free chopper ride. It was mid-afternoon on a bluebird day when Silvano, Pat and I arrived at the heli-pad beside the Wangapeka River. Before we could say ‘Outdoor Recreation Consortium’, Toby Reid loaded us into his Eurocopter Squirrel and we were suddenly airborne.

Rewind one week. Tom Young from DOC Motueka suggested that our club do a scope of John Reid Hut, our chosen renovation project for 2018. A DOC working party was to be air-lifted out from Karamea Bend on Friday, and Tom kindly offered us the empty seats on the flight in.

The flight was over in five short minutes, taking us from the lowly altitude of 280m, delivering us to 1244m above the bushline. We unloaded four heavy 25kg bags of cement, then bid Toby goodbye. His grandfather, John Reid, was nicknamed ‘Mr Helicopter’ for his pioneering aviation around Northwest Nelson Forest Park since the 1950s. His name was immortalised in the naming of this hut, built in 1963.

Silvano wasted no time in starting his quantity surveying, ably assisted by Pat. I boiled the billy, and shot some close-ups of the chimney base to record the condition of the hut, which seemed in reasonably good nick.

Our club has been asked to replace the iron chimney and open fireplace, all of which Pat and Silvano measured, sketched and discussed at length, while I made another cuppa.

Some of the obvious problems in this six-bunker are that it’s very dark inside, with a solitary window looking south to the expansive marble tops of Mount Owen. I also noted the diagonal beams to support the roof make one of the bunks nigh impossible to access.

By day’s end, we downed tools and clambered up the valley wall on a rough, poled track to the ridgeline above. From here, spectacular views can be enjoyed of Mt Patriarch to the west, and the serrated 1500-metre tops of the Arthur Range. Ahead, Mount Baldy rises from gloomy depths into an awesome sabre tooth pinnacle. Beyond, Mounts Sodom and Gomorrah are hazy silhouettes in a fantastic vista of rugged topography. We enjoyed the elemental exposure and mountain solitude.

I shot closeups of the Taylor Stream below, and panoramics as the setting sun fired the tussock in golden light. After dinner, I indulged in timelapse photography, recording the stars as they circled the southern sky above our little shelter.

Next morning, the clouds had moved in, and we moved out, sidling along old grassy slips to gain a prominent spur. This section would be tricky to negotiate if wet. The undulating Chummies Track is straightforward travel, where several knobs make good viewpoints before the knee-jarring 1,000m descent to the valley floor. Alas, my sleep deprived body was falling apart by the time we forded the Wangapeka, thigh deep. It had taken a full four hours from the hut.

Silvano did the honours and hitched to Rolling River to retrieve our vehicle.

Trio were: Ray Salisbury (scribe), Pat Holland & Silvano Lorandi.

View the Video of our trip here: JOHN REID HUT RECCE




21–23 October 2017 | Inland Track | Abel Tasman National Park
Leader: Michele Cunningham | Scribe: Philip Palmer

Four members put their hands up for this trip: myself, our trip leader Michele, plus her partner Peter, and David Cook.

I collected the others for the drive to Marahau and our appointment with the water taxi. Michele had skilfully asked both water taxi companies for a price, and had been offered a 10% discount by one, so the choice was obvious.

We arrived in Marahau as scheduled, unloaded our gear into the forward storage area of the trailered boat, and the car was parked nearby.

Our ship mates were entirely young foreign visitors, struggling with brand new small packs. Then the boat-ride behind the tractor, backwards down the launching ramp.

We had a sunny day with almost glassy-smooth sea; our skipper giving us a pleasant scenic ride to Split Apple Rock and the seals on Adele Island, all with knowledgeable commentary.

Once we disembarked at Totaranui, we did final gear checks and set off down the avenue of plane trees. David insightfully pointed out that we were breaking the signposted speed limit of 2km/hour.

We proceeded up the side-track to Gibbs Hill.

After this warm-up, we had a breather at Pigeon Saddle, before starting the main event: a very enjoyable climb through a well-marked, mostly cleared track towards Awapoto Hut. David called the rest stops. There was a huge amount of wind-fall. On arrival at Awapoto Hut, the surroundings were completely different from what I remember.

Now the very majestic view of Golden Bay was visible, to the end of D’urville Island. Someone with a chainsaw had been very busy, and there was a huge firewood supply within log-dragging distance of the hut. We enjoyed a mild evening.

I couldn’t contain my enthusiasm to use a recently-acquired one-person tent, camping on the grass; the others preferring the 12-berth hut.

Sunday dawned fine and the crew dutifully fell into line for departure at 9am. The route towards Castle Rock Hut mostly follows the undulating ridge-line, making for relatively easy travel.

On this section the ‘animal count’ got underway: one very long earth worm moving over the forest floor at the side of the track; one live Powelliphanta snail rescued off the track and transferred to the undergrowth; one complete Powelliphanta shell and three broken ones; one stoat in a trap.

Track markings were a mixture of new orange triangles and antique orange-painted tin lids.

Moa Park was a large tussock clearing, with a very adequate shelter, suitable for sleeping three or four folks on the floor, plus a longdrop. There is a good stream for water supply and flat area in the scrub very close to the shelter, which would be an excellent camp-site.

Further on, was the side trip to Porter Rock, providing excellent views. The two more simian types scaled the highest rock.

Progress from here was  punctuated by some “are we there yet” groaning,  and a lot of map-gazing to ascertain position. We suddenly popped around a corner, and there was the eight-bunk Castle Rock Hut. Several other people were there, so I was able to have a second go with my tent. Michele and Peter slept in their tent too. David’s seniority and lack of tent earnt him a bunk space.

On Monday morning, there was high cloud. We scheduled an 8am departure for the short walk to Castle Rocks, providing excellent views of Marahau Valley below.

The trail drops gradually, arriving at Holyoake Clearing with its small two-bunk shelter, tank water supply and long-drop. We stopped for lunch here, shifting the outdoor table to take in the closer view down to Adele Island.

After lunch, the track became flatter and more footpath-like, closer to the junction with the Coastal Track. Finally the sound of voices other than our own heralded the inevitable.

Shortly after Tinline Bay, we walked the beach to reach the causeway, and finally, the track head café, where the less ascetic members indulged.

Thank you to Michele for such superb organizing and  Peter and David for such excellent company.

Inland Trampers were: Michele Cunningham, Pete Phipps, David Cook & Philip Palmer  (scribe).

11–12 November 2017 |  Lake Chalice – Mt Patriarch | Mount Richmond Forest Park
Leader: Ian Morris

Departing from Bishopdale, we headed east in two vehicles, for a meet-up and morning tea in Havelock. Just before Blenheim, we headed up the Wairau valley until we got to Mount Richmond Forest Park.

There we followed the steadily rising access road to the Lake Chalice car-park, at approx. 1000m elevation. We donned packs and descended 400 metres to the Lake Chalice Hut. The walk was pleasant, surrounded by various varieties of pine, ash and fir trees.

After a lunch stop at the hut, we sidled around the lake to find the lake’s outlet (dammed as a result of a huge landslip some millions of years ago). It was very exciting to see lots of rivers sprouting from the hillside. Ah, the delightful sound of rushing water!

Heading to the other side of the lake, we crossed over the two rivers which feed the lake — very scenic!

That night, we were joined by two hunters and an Israeli couple who shared the hut with the six of us. The smell of cooking merged with jovial tidings; an early night for our group soon followed. No animals were killed while we were at the hut.

The following morning we departed the hut by 8am and headed up to the car-park. Driving further along the access road, through a magnificent stand of European ash trees, we punched through the clouds.

Surrounded by stunning views of the Wairau valley, we followed the jeep track up to the main ridge which leads to the top of Mt Patriarch. This rough track was well-maintained, unlike the ridge walk, where much scrambling was required. We eventually reached the domed peak of the mountain. This moonscape was dotted with scattered flowers.

At lunch we posed for photos by the trig. In 20 minutes, a strangely localised gust of wind blew a jacket and camera bag about 15 metres into the air, only to deposit them straight back down where they were before.

Taking this as a sign that the weather was closing in, we headed back to the car. Tired of preparing our own food, so we stopped in Havelock to have a decent pub meal.

All in all, it was a spectacular trip which left everyone tired, but happy.

Trip members were Ian & Marilyn Morris, Sue Martin, Michele Cunningham, Debbie Hogan & her son Daven Konrad Illenberger (scribe).

17-19 November 2017 | Leadership Training Weekend | Paretai Lodge
by Kate Krawczyk

When reflecting on the Leadership Weekend, one of the suggestions that came up near the end was that the name put some people off. For example, “if I go to the Leadership Weekend I will have to lead trips” or “they are going to tell me how to suck eggs when I already know what I am doing.”

In hindsight, we should have called the weekend the “what if weekend,” because as much as leadership was the goal, it ended up being an incredible weekend of discussing difficult situations and sharing stories about our own experiences in the outdoors.

Our Training and Safety Co-ordinator Liz Henderson worked tirelessly planning this event for the last three months. Despite the worry and the unknowns, it came together beautifully.

The attendees were all wonderful and willing participants. Instead of it being a lecture on what to do and what not to do, it became an open discussion group where everyone spoke up and asked questions and shared ideas.

As a tramping club, it is our responsibility to look after each other in the outdoors. It is important that we all arrive home safe and sound, if not just a little tired. At the same time, the adventure is about the risk and pushing our limits, so it is so important to continue doing so, while taking steps to make sure that we avoid getting into strife and potentially killing or seriously injuring anyone.

There are so many variables in the wilderness that it is impossible to prevent any accidents or tricky situations. Knowing what to do when someone is hurt, or lost... and being able to discuss the “what ifs” was the best outcome of this weekend.

A big thank you to Richard Walker and Tim Tyler who helped facilitate the discussions and training.     

Participants : Kate Krawczyk, Leah Parker, Liz  Henderson, Debbie Hogan, Marianne Hermsen, Peter Phipps, Michele Cunningham, Patrick Holland, Kath Ballantine, Richard Walker, Tim Tyler, Sue Henley, Nicola Harwood, Don Morissey, Nina Solter, Brian Renwick, Ian Morris, Marilyn Morris, Friede Schultze, Barry James, Daven Illenberger.


Here are some of the things that we identified that we could to do as a club to improve our safety record:


• Club to purchase an emergency shelter/fly to be carried on trips … you never know when you might get caught spending a night out

• More training & leadership weekends

• Outdoor first aid course

• Annual equipment review at our Show & Tell club night

• Review Intentions Form in consultation with SAR. Add in a process for activating help if we need to call the police

• Provide an email template for leaders to send out to trip participants (Cut & paste-able; e.g. gear to bring, expectations on trip, etc.)

• Set procedure to help with vetting new members & non-members on trips; i.e. easy/medium-level tramps for new members’ first two tramps (unless a reference is given by an existing club member).

• Strengthen pre-trip conversations; e.g. car park briefing re trip structure & setting boundaries: e.g. staying within shouting distances, expectations, break times, etc.

• Trip de-briefings so leaders can get support & advice – how do we do this?  Post tramp?
At pub nights?

• Set maximum group sizes. Alternatively, have more than one leader assigned on a trip

• Mentoring for new & prospective leaders

• Importance of telling people you are back safely from a trip




Header Photo_Dec_web.jpg69.44 KB
ntc_nl_dec2017_web.pdf2.35 MB
castle_rock_hut.jpg69.25 KB
days_track_blunt.jpg77.68 KB
scotts_knob.jpg53.8 KB
arthur_range_pano.jpg51.04 KB
silvano_johnReidhut.jpg54.2 KB
chalice_party.jpg63.45 KB
patriarch_trig.jpg59.92 KB
deb+kate.jpg70.33 KB
leadership_party_webpg.jpg85.15 KB
scottsknob_quote.jpg34.76 KB
woodedpeak_quote.jpg42.83 KB