Tramping Club

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Photographer - Geoff Butcher



MAY 2018

PRESIDENT Kerry Ph (03) 5788836

SECRETARY: Jane Ph (03) 5787441

CLUB CAPTAIN: Murray Ph (03) 5724812

Annual General Meeting will be held on 26th June. 7.30pm at the Blenheim School Hall.

Please join us for a short meeting followed by an interesting speaker and supper. As well as general business there will be:

  • Presidents/Hut Officers and Treasures reports
  • Election of Officers. All committee members are seeking re-election although not necessarily in their current roles.
  • Presentation of trophies.
  • Club member Ken McKenzie will then speak about his recent trip to Nepal with some fabulous photo books to view.
  • Recycling your tramping gear. This year we will also have a sales table where you can buy, sell, swap or give away tramping gear that you no longer use. Anything from boots to books. Just put a tag on it with price and your name on.
  • Photos. This year the winning photos from the recent photo competition will be on display.

New Members Welcome to Simon Marangon and Ben Parsons. Great to have two more of the younger generation joining our ranks. Let’s hope they bring some of their mates with them sometime.

Get well wishes to Susan King. We hope you are on the mend and will be out and about again soon.

Congratulations to Bev Pitts who has recently been elected as Chairwomen of the Marlborough Rural Advisory Group. Bev heads an executive of eight members which includes our Club Captain Murray.

News letter in colour. This may not always happen but we appreciate the generosity of Marcella at SBA for printing the newsletters in colour. It certainly gives it a better, brighter look.

Did you know!!

Among our club members we have many talented people and many volunteers. Nelson and Bev North can take their places on both of these lists.

I don’t know how many of you watched the recent episode of Coast New Zealand that was about the Chatham Islands. I know I did and it reminded me to follow up on a conversation I had with Nelson at the Christmas BBQ. You see, the decoy birds used to assist with re establishing the Royal Albatrosses were made by Nelson and Bev in their workshop.

My husband and I spent an enjoyable couple of hours with Bev and Nelson recently and learned about the contribution they are making to help re establish our endangered birds.

The Norths work alongside Taiko Trust, Wild Life Management International and also DOC. They are very humble about their efforts and play down the importance of their work by telling us they are just a very small cog in a large wheel.

We ventured out into the workshop where there were bird bodies in various stages everywhere as well as model boats, aeroplanes and all manner of interesting stuff.

Nelson firstly carves the birds body shape out of foam and builds it up with plaster to the exact shape then carves the head from wood, then comes the complex part of making the mould.

It is a fairly involved technical process building up the layers of resin and glass cloth etc to get a completed body. Bev is in charge of painting and pays strict attention to the smallest detail.

As well as the 24 Albatross made for the Chathams, they have made Royal Albatross for Pitt Island, Ganetts for Separation Point and Shearwaters for Maud Island.

Replicas they may be but they are so realistic that birds have tried to mate with them.

Nelson and Bev say they are just small cogs in a large wheel but I think you will agree that they are extremely valuable and integral cogs in that wheel.

Take the time to look at these two websites for a better look at the work being done to ensure these sea birds are around for many years to come.

Photo Competition 2018

A record number of around 90 entries in the competitive section made this year’s well attended event an outstanding success. It was great to have several members who hadn’t entered the competition before putting their photos forward for judging. Well done all photographers and organisers.

Liz Davidson was our Judge again this year. Having been one herself, Liz engages well and has an excellent rapport with trampers and able to appreciate that photography is only a small part of being out in the backcountry with all its challenges. She praised all entrants for the quality of the entries, made lots of comments and also gave a lot of helpful tips to members on how to improve their photos. Liz’s sense of humour is always appreciated and she had lots of funny stories relating to her camera club experiences and especially how much equipment is taken to “make a good photo”.

One wonders whether it would be easier to pick the mushroom and take it carefully into a well equipped studio with all the brushes, umbrellas, extra foliage etc etc to get the perfect Natural History shot!!

Geoff Butcher was again the overall winner on points entering only four photos, and gaining 3 firsts and a third with them. Liz’s choice of Best Photo was Geoff’s “St Ronan Players” in the Club Life Section – a completely unrehearsed shot .Congratulations Geoff. Other winners/place getters were: Jane Minto, Alyssa Beatty, Sue McKenzie, Bill Woollcombe, Murray Chapman and Peter Buttle. Their photos will be on display at the AGM for everyone to enjoy.

There were around 10 – 15 entries in each of the non-competitive sections – Lakes& Tarns, Tucker time and My Favourite Photo. Lots of nostalgia in these photos. Geoff, Sue and Linda the winners in these sections. Our thanks to Mitchells Sports for the generous discount on the prize vouchers.

More competition with the Tramping Crossword, after which we all enjoyed a lovely Pizza supper.

A very enjoyable Club Night!!

Finding your way. Our map and compass course had to be postponed but it will be on in late August. There are heaps of mapping programs available online to use with your smart phones and GPS systems but when there is no cell phone signal the good old map and compass will set you in the right direction if you know the basic skills. Topo maps are available from the Picture Framers in Queen St and Jane and you can get a compass from Mitchells or any Sports shop. Take it with you when you go tramping and practice any chance you get.

A few sites where you can download/print topo maps.

Trip Reports

Cupola Hut April 28 and 29

So here I was striding out, following the track along the eastern shores of lake Rotoiti under dark foreboding skies. Contrary to YRs prediction of snow and more snow it was unseasonably mild and at this stage free of any precipitation. The Met Service was a little more favourable with rain later, heavy overnight and clearing. Being an eternal optimist I was running with the Met Service forecast. Funnily enough no one else shared my optimism hence this being another one of those club trips that was incredibly easy to organise with only one partaker, namely me.

As it was going to be quite a big day I had mentally broken it down into five easy manageable segments not worrying myself to much with the final destination as after all it was just a speck on a big map.

Quarter to ten saw me rocking up onto Lakehead huts porch still miraculously dry, smoke was billowing from its chimney indicating occupancy. A couple of young Europeans with feet up were just polishing off breakfast. It was to be a hut day for them as it looked far to menacing today to be

venturing out doors.

I departed their company wishing them well to follow the track meandering its way up through the grass meadows of the lower Travers Valley towards my second objective, the swing bridge. It was very pleasant walking with not a care in the world and before I knew it the bridge just popped out in front of me. By now there was light drizzle in the air, just enough to ponder “to put on the raincoat or not” Warm and dry won over warm and damp as I entered the beech forest for my third destination, the Hopeless Creek bridge.

The track is a little more rugged through here as it skirts above wee obstacles on the valley floor. It was through here that I met a group heading out, one of whom was the resident hut warden heading out for a break. He informed me I would have the whole valley to myself as there was no one in John Tait, Upper Travers or Cupola huts. Damn it no roaring fires on hut arrival.

Hopeless Creek bridge arrived for a latish lunch with me parked up under a huge beech tree with the odd big accumulating drip trying to seek me out below. With a slice of caramel square, a couple of buns filled with butter and lavishly covered with pink icing consumed I felt more than ready for the next stage through to John Tait Hut which is always a joy as you witness the Travers River flowing around and over the big boulders jammed into its narrow confines. I was only ten minutes along the track and feeling pretty good about how it was all progressing when for some inexplicable reason my left hip went out in sympathy for my right which is always a bit dodgy at the best of times. Whether it was an awkward step with a bit of sideways slip who knows but as is always the case you alter your foot plant to alleviate things and it transfers all the stress elsewhere.

I had recently concluded that I was only fooling myself and that perhaps my legs were not in the young legs brigade anymore and were now more suited to being aided by a walking pole which funnily enough I had ordered but alas had not arrived in time for this trip.

With the wheels beginning to fall off it was fortunate that the distance between Hopeless Creek Bridge and John Tait Hut is not that great and so it was with some relief that I hobbled up the steps to take the weight off the pins on the bench seat in the porch.

It was a time of procrastination as I sat and watched the light rain falling on the avalanche debris in front of the hut, to pull the pin and stay here or carry on. Niggling away in the back of my mind was the thought of missing a blue sky morning in the tussock of Cupola Basin. After a full twenty minutes of mulling it over while eating another couple of buns I thought Bugger it I can still do this and began the finale to Cupola Hut reckoning on still getting there around four pm.

 As can only be expected the gradient rapidly changed, pushing the lungs into overdrive as I carefully weighted the pins for each step up. The light drizzle was by now turning to steadier rain and with no one to share the pain with I began to wonder if I’d finally reached a tipping point where maybe these sorts of trips would become physically out of my reach. It was something I didn’t want to dwell on for I wasn’t sure how I could fill the void it would leave. Once into the wicked zig zag section the leg muscles had sucked every ounce of available oxygen away from the brain leaving me in a semi comatose state as I continuously scanned the ground ahead just willing it to let up.

I’ve grovelled my way up here at least half a dozen times and after each trip I seem to end up with a selective memory that just edits out all the exhausting bits. The guys and girls at DOC had recently brush cut the whole track so when the terrain eventually eased I could mercifully see the silhouette of the hut a very short distance in front.

Once nestled in Cupola Hut and the load off ones pins thoughts shifted to dinner. What will it be tonight? Beef pasta hotpot should do the trick!!!!While it was simmering away atop the cooker I rolled out the pit and crawled inside to reflect and lick my wounds.

With the pasta and the beef suitably rehydrated one could sit at the table over dinner admiring the spectacular cirque bluffs at the foot of the South East couloir of Mt Hopeless framed in the window. The couloir was shrouded in cloud and was the closest thing Nelson Lakes National Park had to a glacier. Due to its south facing and steepness it used to have some crevasses and schrunds but I don’t know if global warming has brought about its demise.

Thirty one years ago it very nearly brought about my demise as I was swept off my feet near the summit to be deposited at the base of the cirque bluffs. A nice wee survival story for the grand-kids!!!

Six in the evening and I was zipped in up to the neck listening to the rain pelting down on to the tin roof to slip away with not a peep out of me until six thirty the following morning.

I wasn’t in a great hurry to move as it dawned, my blue sky morning was now a bad joke with low cloud and just a hint of mist blanketing all. After a leisurely breakfast I wandered up into the Tussock basin in the vain hope of perhaps nipping up to the summit but had to be content with sitting on a big rock, waiting, waiting, waiting while scanning the swirling mist for even just a hint of it thinning to entice me to stay a little longer.

Eight thirty came and went with only a glimpse of what I presumed to be Gun Sight Pass directly to the south. Hmmm it would be worth coming back to have a look through that pass as I abandoned all hope of an early clearance and retreated back to the hut.

 With one last glance around the hut I shouldered the pack, bolted the door and began the descent towards John Tait Hut. I don’t know if I was just having a really bad day at the office yesterday for the body had recovered and was now feeling remarkably good as the Ks slipped by and before I knew it John Tait Hut was upon me. Murphy’s Law true to form had sunshine splashing its way across the Summit Creek slopes of Mt Travers. Oh well better late than never and maybe a blessing in disguise for had it been a blue sky morning I certainly wouldn’t be feeling this chipper after returning from the summit of Mt Cupola.

All that now remained was the leisurely stroll back down the Travers Valley???? NOT!!

61.53 Kms return with 885 meters of ascent.

Waterforce Tramp the Ned’ Sunday 20 May 2018

This annual fundraising event for Fairhall School first took place in 2010. As the landowners regularly grant us permission to walk on their land I decided it would be a good event to include on the itinerary this year. Starting times were from 8.30am to 9.45am. We arrived at about 8.40am to find that the car park area in a paddock was filling up rapidly. After checking in at the registration point, having a number written on our hand, and paying the $15 per person entry fee, we set off up the farm road, passing some people and being passed by others. The weather was cloudy and the temperature pleasant for walking uphill. When we were higher up and stopped to look back, there was a continuous stream of people on their way up, as well as ahead of us. During the day it was good to meet quite a lot of other tramping club members, walking with family or friends. The pace slowed as the gradient increased. Near the saddle the wind strength increased suddenly and the temperature dropped. A couple of youngsters came down saying they had been turned back at the saddle as it was too cold for them. They didn’t have any warm clothes so they had obviously been sent down for safety reasons. It was really cold at the saddle but far more sheltered once round the corner and heading south on the road.

Going up the one way track, marked by pink ribbons, to the 909 metre summit was quite slow going as the wind was gusting strongly, blowing lighter people off balance and numbing fingers. Once on the summit, it was surprisingly calm and pleasant just a metre below the top and lots of people were there having lunch and enjoying the views and attractive wave clouds. We then followed the descent track down, in a steadily moving queue, to rejoin the road and carry on back down to the parking area where children were having fun sliding down a hill on cardboard or plastic mats. Back at registration our entry number was checked off so that at the end everyone would be accounted for. (One of the officials gave a rough estimate of about 570 participants!) This was a different day and one well worth experiencing.

Sue McKenzie, Peter Buttle, Geoff Butcher, Gordon Stone, Colin Scott, John Maffey and Jane Minto (Scribe).

Mole Hill

We left town at 7 am with what looked like a great day ahead. It was an hour’s drive to our destination a few kms south of Kekerengu where we followed the farm track up around the south of Mole Hill, the road zigzagged up to where we had morning tea with the most amazing 360deg views. We then carried on up to the trig that gave great views into the Clarence River with great photo opportunities then continued on over the top of Mole hill and tried to get an idea of the best way to attack the very steep downhill descent to the Clarence River. I have done this trip several times but this section was done slightly differently each time, we agreed that the easiest was to stick to the left side of the hill.

The big earthquake has done a lot of damage here which made things even trickier in places with one tramper having a bit of a tumble, but luckily nothing too serious! We had lunch on a grassy knob above the river before heading back up the track to complete the circuit - the photo shows the view over the Clarence from the trig and the steep face with all the zigzags and slips caused by the earthquake. A great day was completed with an ice cream stop at Ward and returning back to town at 4pm.

Trampers were Jane M, Geoff B, Paulette O, Alison S, Steph B, Gary H, Tizzy P, Peter B, David T, and leader and scribe Sue McKenzie.

Awatere Mouth to Vernon Bluffs (Or maybe not!) Wednesday 2 May 2018

The intention was to walk to the Bluffs for lunch and, hopefully, to get good photos of the high white cliffs towering above us. But, to quote poet Robert Burns, ‘The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men Gang aft a-gley.’ Seven of us started off, walking north from the car park area near the Awatere Mouth, on a bright day with attractive cloud formations. I had checked tide tables carefully to ensure that the tide would be going out when we got there and it was, just, so we were able to walk on the sand at times or above on the stony bank. We climbed up above the beach to a sheltered spot for smoko and at that point realized that we wouldn’t be going any further. Waves were still crashing against the foot of the white bluffs further along and we would not even have been able to get round the next lot of rocks. What I hadn’t allowed for, but Robin knew about, was a predicted three metre swell. The consolation was that the rolling waves were providing a dramatic demonstration of the power of the sea, just wonderful to watch and listen to. Robin spotted a boat over towards the North Island. We could see the mast disappearing behind huge waves and then appearing again. We walked back along the beach to our vehicles, after possibly the shortest club tramp ever. Luckily, Linda had the bright idea of extending our day by driving to Yealands Estate for lunch. We had a relaxing hour in a sheltered area with picnic tables, information boards and peaceful piped music. We also enjoyed the company of Muscovy Ducks, keen to share our picnic, and Brown Shaver hens brushing against our legs with their soft feathers.

Robin Mitchell, Geoff Butcher, Peter Buckle, Gary Hodgetts, Paulette O’Sullivan, Linda Le Sueur and Jane Minto (Scribe)