Trip Reports, March-May 2019


  1. Pearse Resurgence & Nettlebed Cave | Kahurangi NP
  2. Starlight Cave | Takaka Hill
  3. Mt Arthur | Kahurangi National Park
  4. Mt Richmond | Mt Richmond Forest Park
  5. Ahuriri Conservation Park | Canterbury
  6. Alpine Route | Mt Richmond Forest Park
  7. Cowin Spur | Kahurangi National Park

4 March 2019 | Starlight Cave, Takaka Hill

Leader: Andrea Jabberwocky

Starlight cave is the exit from a caving expedition after dropping down the infamous Harwoods Hole. It takes around three hours for cavers to negotiate the route following an amazing water course through the cave. (I can speak first hand having experienced this amazing journey several years ago).

Our intention was to experience this beautiful cavern. You cannot get in too far before you need SRT gear but can certainly have a good look around this chamber, clambering on the rocks above water level.

The idea of a circular route came from a Wilderness Magazine article describing Gorge Creek. We decided to come back via the creek as we hadn’t been that way before and may have been scuppered. Our main objective was the cave.

The route there involved a steep drop through loose rock, so we took extra care. It took us 2.5 hours to reach Starlight Cave.

Picking our route to Gorge Creek took a little ferreting around initially, but then we picked up a stream that led us down. Gorge Creek lived up to its name and was a lovely treat, if somewhat testing at one point. We met a rock wall in its most narrowest part. This involved a climb under a rock overhang using a narrow ledge above an exposed drop to the creek bed. Due to the rock overhang,We we had to portage our bags up first.

It was a great work-out, enjoyed by the seven of us. Join us for club trips to be part of these awesome adventures!

24 March 2019 | Mount Arthur | Kahurangi NP
Leader: Pat Holland

Eight punters gathered early morning at Richmond for this old faithful trip that had been organised by Chris Louth but who had to pull out due to a MTB injury. Waimea Tramping Club also had members milling about in the carpark for their trip. This caused minor confusion!

It was an uneventful drive to the Graham Valley. The Flora car park was moderately full, as behove the beautiful mild weather. So, we set off, on the grand track through the beautiful beech forest, reaching Mt Arthur Hut in 70 minutes for a break. Spurred on by a young couple carrying a five-month old child, we headed on steadily up the ridge, admiring the superb views in all directions.

The party got a little spread out, as David led the charge towards the summit. The breeze from the west was brisk at altitude, so we decided to pause for a lunch break in the shelter of the massif below the summit. Pat exhorted the unobservant to go back along the track 50 metres where the hole through the NE ridge opposite was in-line as a small hole with a glimpse of blue sky beyond. This passage was the target for the afternoon.

All the party completed the summit (1795m), then  David and Mary decided  to return via the main track. Tthe other six headed down this narrow, rocky northeast ridge. About 200m down, we went off to the left on a ledge. After a little backtracking, we located the narrow passage (about 12m long) through the ridge. Getting to and through this required some careful footwork. But soon we were onto rubble on the eastern side below the ridge.

The limestone rocks are quite rough and do not move as much as standard scree so the steep initial descent was straightforward. The route through the karst into Horseshoe Basin was not obvious but we followed our noses down the limestone and tussock slopes, generally traversing a little to the west and sidling under Pt.1550.

We had to watch our footing near the frequent tomos. After about an hour of this rough travel, the wild spaniards became more of a nuisance but some cairns came into view and soon we reached the poled track over Gordons Pyramid.

It was a bit of grunt in late afternoon, climbing the 100m vertical of track from the basin to rejoin the main track – and the waiting David with Mary.

Down we all loped to Mt Arthur Hut, then to Flora car park at a more sedate pace, as befitted a rather energetic but wonderful day. It was an 8.5 hour circuit including infrequent stops.

Climbers were: Patrick Holland, Grant Derecourt, David Cook with Troy Dixon, Mary Hsu, Joe Tiller, Angela Leichsenring and Glenys Henry (visitors).

30-31 March 2019 | Mount Richmond (1756 m) | Mt Richmond Forest Pk
Leader/Scribe: Silvano Lorandi

Easy access, nice track, comfortable hut and a peak with a lovely shape what can you ask more from a tramping trip?

Ummm … perhaps a view from the top?

Sadly, we missed that part, even going to the top on Saturday afternoon trying to beat the bad weather forecasted wasn’t enough.

Clouds deprived us of the view but We still made sense of what was around us and remembered the adventures of the past in the area.

Never mind we retreated to the hut for a warm evening spent sharing stories and chitchatting with a lovely group of women from Nelson and a German backpacker. Perhaps one of the most friendly and social night in a hut for many years.

On Sunday we searched for a nice view from the hill top west of the hut but couldn’t find it through the sea of clouds.

We retreated to the hut and back home happy nevertheless.

Participants: Silvano Lorandi (leader and scribe), Michele Cunningham, Steve McGlone, Judi Boyd and Angela Leichsenring (visitors).

Easter–to–ANZAC 2019 | Expedition through Ahuriri Conservation Park
Leader: Kate Krawczyk

Day 1

It was a long drive down to the Ahuriri Conservation area but it was worth it. We had a ten-day stretch including Easter and ANZAC holidays. This meant, for those of us who work, we only had to take three days’ annual leave. It was a chance to go far, far away!

We left Nelson around 8am and didn’t arrive at Ahuriri Base Hut until about 8p – in the dark.There was only a couple from Gore in the hut and a starving little kitten who had crawled out from under the hut the day before apparently. No one knew where it had come from, but we gave it warm milk and the lovely couple took it with them when they left the next day.

Another couple arrived after us. They were from Christchurch and one of them was Honora Renwick – Brian’s sister! Small world…

Day 2

The day’s forecast was a bit of a mixed bag, but we woke up to a reasonably clear morning after a night of rain. We decided to have a go at climbing the track to the ridge over Dingle Burn to have a look. After a couple of hours we reached the top and got great views towards Mt. Heim and the hanging glaciers on its face. We had a quick lunch sheltering out of the cold wind. The wind got bitterly cold and we quickly decided to descend. On the way down it started to rain lightly so we didn’t get too wet. All the same it was nice to get back to base.

Day 3

Another rainy day – we knew that after today the forecast was great for at least four days. So we decided to go for it, starting our planned five-day loop.

We packed up, drove to the road end and set off up the valley for a few kilometres before we turned right and climbed above the gorge of Watson Creek where it meets the Ahuriri Valley. We had a quick lunch sheltering from the rain in the trees and reached our campsite at around 2pm at the bushline where Watson Creek forks.

At this point spirits were pretty low! We were cold and wet, and quickly set up our tents, changed and dove in for cover.

Before bed, which of course comes very early when tramping in April (sundown was around 6:30pm), Peter came. We discussed our options. He reckoned if it was still raining in the morningt we would have to bail as we were only heading higher into the cold and snow and, for safety’s sake, we needed to dry out.

Day 4

It stopped raining during the night but we were still wet and cold when we we woke up. After a quick breakfast discussion, we decided to push on. We’d come this far and we knew the forecast was in our favour.

We climbed up the right branch of Watson Creek all morning in the cloud. At lunch a glimpse of blue sky teased us above but for the most part we couldn’t see a thing!

We finally reached the saddle into the Temple after a grunty, long scree sidle and some plugging steps through snow. The clouds parted enough to give us a stunning view of the Southern Alps – snowy peaks as far as the eyes could see!

Just below the saddle there were some beautiful tarns. There was snow around but enough bare patches of ground to set up our tents for the night. We knew it was going to be cold, but we had a nice camp site with beautiful water. We knew the bush line was another two hours away– we wouldn’t make it there before dark.

Day 5

For the first time ever, I woke to a tent frozen around me! I was toasty warm in my down cocoon, but when I flipped my fly open a layer of frozen condensation flew off in an icy cloud. The tarns which were water the night before had a thin layer of ice on them. But what a spot to wake up! Once again – snowy peaks surrounded and the best part of all – not a cloud in the sky! The weather was promising!

We packed up and descended down the valley to the Temple Valley. It was easy going down to the bushline and then there was a bit of route finding.  A rough track existed with some flagging tape but it wasn’t easy to follow. We had to sidle high up on the true right of the valley to avoid the gorge where the stream met the main valley. We hit a road block when we came across a huge washout across the track. We looked up and down but as far as we could see the way was impassable – the track was gone and it was a sheer 2–3 metre drop into what used to be a little side creek. Peter dropped his pack and went up to see if we could get above the washout. We didn’t have to wait long and heard Peter shout out – he’d found a way. A steep 100 metres up the hill and we were able to find a way across.

We reached the Temple Valley, then turned left up the South Temple. We passed the hut and carried on for another couple of hours upstream to get a good start on the next day. The track was really hard to follow because the same storm that caused the washout we had encountered earlier, had obliterated much of the formed track that existed in the South Temple.

Just before dark, we found a lovely campsite and resigned ourselves to another night in our tents.

Day 6

The long nights were getting to me at this point. There’s only so many twelve-hour nights you can spend by yourself in a tent. And you can only sleep for so long. I was very happy to hear the morning chorus of the resident bellbirds.

We continued up the South Temple left branch on a rough track through the scrub and onto the alpine tussock. We climbed a steep and loose scree slope to finally reach the saddle under Mt.Huxley, back into the Ahuriri Valley.

Again, the views were spectacular. We descended through the soft snow into the basin below V-Notch Pass and Mt. Huxley.

We reached a spectacular campsite on big, grassy flats beside a superb little creek, with the afternoon sun still shining over the basin. It was magical! Unfortunately, Peter insisted we keep going so that we didn’t have to descend the steep and slippery snow grass slopes in the morning dew. I could totally understand his strategy, as we scrambled down steep gullies through waterfalls and bluffs to the valley floor. We found a flat campsite in the river flats and set up camp for our last night.

Day 7

After a starry night, another beautiful day saw us packing up again for the last, long valley-slog back to the vehicles. We passed Top, Hagen, and Shamrock Huts on the way. Finally, our vehicles came into view. We drove back to the Ahuriri Base Hut to find a couple of local hunters in the hut. They were friendly sorts so we settled in for our first cozy, warm hut night in six days.

Day 8

Our last day on the trip and the weather was holding – we had to make one last tramp to explore Canyon Creek. After all, we came here to tramp and who knows when we will get back here next? The temptation to start driving home to our beds and hot showers was strong, but the promise of another spectacular valley was stronger. And wow! Words can’t describe the stunning, pre-historic beauty of Canyon Creek. The track climbs up and over a little gorge and spits you out into the valley. At the head of the valley are sheer bluffs towering 200 metres with waterfalls cascading down into the valley below.

Day 9

It was a long drive home with a day spare to get sorted for going back to real life!

4–8  May 2019 | Alpine Route | Mt Richmond FP

Leader: Kath Ballantine

Three trampers, hopeful that the high over the country would last,  set out from the Hackett car park at 8.45am, for a five-day adventure. An easy walk up-river to the turn off to Mt Starveall, then a slow section as we negotiated crossing the river multiple times.

We had morning tea at the last of the river crossings before starting the steep incline. Lunch was in the vicinity of Parachute Rock, the first opportunity of a view out over the valley. A final steep pinch up to the hut, arriving at 3pm. A cool wind had picked up, but we kept warm making a concerted effort replenishing the but firewood pile. [6 hrs.]

Day 2

We set out in clear, sunny and warm conditions. We explored the summit of Mt Starveall (1511m) before descending steeply into beech forest to a saddle and sidle around the northern flank of Slaty Peak to Slaty Hut where we had a brew up and early lunch. We had seen the last of only two other people in five days, the TA hikers stopped coming through about 27th April.

From the hut we sidled to the ridge where we remained for two more days enjoying changing vistas to all directions, glimpsing Cape Campbell and the outline of the North Island. We walked in beech forest, briefly after grassy Ada Flat, had a long steep climb up to Old Man Peak, (1614m) then bounced up and down along the ridge until eventually reaching the turn off to Old Man Hut. We discussed the need to relocate this hut nearer the ridge line, but did admit that it was a nice grassy flat, albeit 200m below the ridge. [8.5hrs.]

Day 3

The inevitable 200m climb from the hut to the ridge, then up to Little Rintoul (1643m). We sheltered from a keen breeze and had morning tea before descending 250m down a rocky ridge and then scree to the saddle between the Rintouls. It was then a climb of 400m to Mt Rintoul, the highest point of our tramp at 1731m. The track between the Rintouls was steep and often on loose rock – slow and tricky.

We enjoyed the summit for an hour having lunch and taking in the expansive views. It was possible to see most of our route from Starveall. A further hour down a steep scree slope and steep section of bush brought us to Rintoul hut. [5 hrs.]

Information in Rintoul Hut about the route we’d taken: ‘Old Man Hut, 3km, 5 hours’ indicated the steepness and up and down nature of this section.

Rintoul Hut squats in a beautiful setting. It was sheltered and mild so afternoon activities included clothes washing and firewood chopping.

Day 4

We had decided that we would try to get to Mid Wairoa Hut today instead of stopping at Tarn Hut. It was a slow climb in beech forest to the saddle to Purple Top, then along a ridge towards Bishops Cap. A descent through beech forest till the turn off to Tarn Hut. [4 hrs.] We enjoyed lunch and lake views here. It was then a long sidle along the west flank of Bushy Top before reaching the Goulter Hut–Mid Wairoa Hut turnoff.

It was a lovely but steep descent to the river, the sunlight coming through mature beech trees.

We were in the habit of gathering firewood on our approaches to huts, but it proved tricky negotiating branches over and off the swing bridge, especially with a two-metre drop to the track from the bridge. [8 hrs.]

Our last night, Sue got a good fire going with the last piece of dry wood, the only hut on the route with an open fire.

Pat and Sue braved the cold of the Wairoa River for a quick dip.

Day 5

The walk out along the river to the car proved to be what everyone had said about it. Steep, tricky and slow in places. DOC had been in recently, clearing the track of windfall, but there had been further tree fall since. We arrived at the locked gate, just after the bike park, and were required to wait 30mins to be transported by a logging company vehicle the remaining 3km of road to our awaiting car. [5.5hrs.]

It was a great trip with plenty of challenges, great weather, beautiful vistas & great company.

Participants were: Sue Henley, Pat Holland, & Kath Ballantine (leader and scribe).

28 May 2019  | Cowin Spur | Kahurangi National Park

 Leader: Richard Walker

Oh, it was good to be back in this part of the country again.

Five of us hardy souls set of at a sparrows fart for the Baton valley and the clear sky gave us hope that our one day fine weather window was going to happen as promised.

The Cowin spur is an old favourite of mine and with cloud hanging around the high tops it has a real wild, remote, and special feel. The condition of the lower track through the fern and scrub was excellent and well cut (thanks DOC) with hardly a need for the waterproofs which were soon relegated to the pack. The track climbs, and climbs, and climbs up to 950 metres, good to get a lot of the hard work out of the way early. At the high point a short theory session on Naismith’s Theory of estimating trip times proved that you can apply theory to take some guess work out of trip planning, and help the leader to look clever!

The track then ambles along the spur with more short climbs to tackle. On one of these, Chris started suffering some mechanical failure in a knee and wisely decided to slowly retreat to the vehicle. On up to the bush edge and the views, oh the views. They make all the hard work worthwhile.The Cowin Spur looking towards the Arthur range.

The weather was starting to close in. A cold breeze sprang up, so we pushed on along the rolling spur, shaped like a giant reptile’s sweeping tail. We found a lovely, sheltered lunch spot by some dainty tarns just below the main Arthur range.

With appetite’s satisfied and a timely break in the weather, we climbed the last scramble through steep wet tussock to the high point 1497. It is a pity some striking high points have only been adorned with a number. This is where the ‘Cowin’ joins up with the ‘Arthur.’ A convenient rock promontory gave us enough shelter to take the obligatory summit photos

The rest of the journey went like a well-rehearsed play following the occasional markers, stopping for breathtaking photos when the cloud layer lifted. There were plenty of stops to rest the ‘down-hill knees’ during the 1200 metres of descent.

Well, what else is there to it? A quick sandwich and drink to stock up the resources, then off home down the bouncy 4WD track through the Baton valley. After the quiet drive home in the dark, we savoured a well-earned rest for a satisfied but worn-out body.

Braving the trip were Richard Walker (leader), Chris Louth, Astrid Brauksiepe, Grant Derecourt and I can’t remember the other guy - sorry! (Big trip leader fail for not writing down a last minute attendee. Oops!)



2 December | Tour de Grampians, Nelson 

Leader: Ray Salisbury


Starting out from the point of least resistance, in The Brook valley, our humble crew of six Sunday morning ramblers set off up the Access Road.

While the Grampians reserve was not new to the men-folk, it was a great introduction to Nally and Corrina. Our intention was to complete a full circumnavigation of Mount Flaxmore, utilising eight of the numerous tracks.

The summit road was used as a warm-up; this was abandoned for an overgrown, grassy path to gain the saddle with Sugarloaf. A lower section of the Kanuka Track took us up to a higher elevation, whereby we could sidle around the back of Mt Flaxmore. The Kahikatea Track was climbed to top out on the main summit ridgeline. Corrina and Nally were escorted by Kerry to the TV tower and actual summit, while the oldies drank flasks of warm tea at the lookout platform, also drinking in views of Nelson South and the Waimea Plains.

Dropping off down the Mamaku Track, David balanced on his twin trekking poles – recent rain had made the earthen path slippery, but there were no incidents. Philip indicated the junction which joined up with the pleasant Tawa Track, which descended gently towards Nelson city, with glimpses of the Hospital and Boys’ College.

Ronaki Track was a rude awakening, zig-zagging up to regain the main ridgeline. After Ray recovered with more tea-drinking, the Walkway was followed along to the top of the Access Road. This delivered the team back to Blick Terrace in exactly three hours. 

The forecast rain mostly held off, and sunhats were more necessary than raincoats. Members were: David Cook, Philip Palmer & Ray Salisbury (scribe), with guests Nally Yi, Corrina Kagaya & Kerry Jones.


16 December 2018 | Maitai Caves, Nelson 

Leader: Sue Henley


The weather for Sunday looked promising, my list of participants grew and grew as the week progressed. By Sunday I had 18 names on the list. After initially meeting at Millers Acre, we pooled vehicles and regrouped at the footbridge just before the Maitai Dam.

We meandered along the track for a few minutes before coming to an abrupt stop as some mountain bikers skidded to a halt. After warning the bikers about our rather large group we continued, making our way up and down some gentle inclines, crossed creeks and negotiated mud holes before reaching the caves. We then enjoyed a long, leisurely lunch, including some home baking and Japanese cuisine kindly donated by some of our group. We then made our way back to the cars, stopping along the way for a photo shoot.

  It was a good day with a pleasant easy walk, and a gentle introduction for those wanting to get into tramping.

Participants were: Corrina Kagaya, David Cook  Michele Cunningham, Kelvin Drew, Greg Roe, Kung Gay Cano, Ana Aceves, Karen Wardell, Annette Vartha, Glen Vartha, Emily Vartha, Penny McLeroth, Donna McLeroth, Kate Krawczyk, John Whibley (senior), Clair Quested & Sue Henley (scribe).


6 January | Billies Knob, Kahurangi National Park

Leader: Andrea Smith


Finally, after several attempts, the weather gods blessed and gave us access to this stunningly beautiful area. The road and ford were easily driven and by all accounts of passing foot traffic, Granity Pass Hut was the des res for the festive season.

As we drove up the road it was difficult to imagine the once bustling Wangapaka Township of 250 residents at Courthouse Flat that sprung up during the gold mining era. Complete, of course, with courthouse and jail –still not a bad view. Maybe those miners were a rowdy lot; they certainly would have been dissatisfied with the pitifully low yields in the area.

We were on official cub business of course, that of tramping. Two hundred metres shy of the altitude of the impressive Mt Owen massif, we still got a grunty workout, with a 1200m climb. It was a beautiful day and the cooling breeze was welcomed. Some of us rekindled the memories of the horrendous bash up  Cullifords Hill a somewhat epic adventure. Today was a garden stroll in comparison!

Some chose different options, so four of us arrived at the summit after around three hours. Grant declared it more of a mountain than a knob. (I recall similar discussions pertaining to Cullifords ‘Hill’ and on descent from Gordons ‘Knob’ (the birth of Knob Bagging) conversation turned  to what constitutes a knob. I muse that NTC members are quite an intellectual group.)

Thank you everyone for your lovely, high-spirited company. Those cheerful souls were: Sue Henley, Grant Derecourt, Graeme Ferrier, Chris Louth, Kath Ballantine and guest Sam Beale

(Scribbled by Andrea.)


6 January | Beebys Hut  | Mt Richmond FP

Leader: Kath Ballantine


Four trampers set off from the Church steps at 8am on what turned out to be a very hot day in town. 

We arrived at the Beeby’s  Knob car park on the KorereTophouse Rd at 9.15am. It was pleasant walking in the bush in slightly cooler overcast conditions. We reached the ridge track at 12.30pm having had a morning tea stop half way up. We decided to press on to the hut, rather than to Beeby’s Knob as it was very windy at the top. We envisioned having a more pleasant lunch in the hut rather than on the knob.

Situated in a pleasant spot, the hut was a welcome respite from the win. Starting at 1.30pm, we returned, Theresa and Ian making a side trip to the top of Beeby’s  Knob. We arrived back at the car at 4.30pm then returned to Nelson.

Trampers were: Kath Ballantine (scribe), Ian Dohoo, with visitors Theresa Magrane & Kim Eunhee. 

9 January | Pelorus Sound Sail, Marlborough
Skipper: Brian Renwick


On a warm, sunny, Wednesday morning, Rod and Carole-Ann Lewis, and Susan and Ian Dohoo joined Brian Renwick aboard his catamaran Canopus for a sail in the Pelorus Sound. Clear skies and light winds saw them using a combination of motor and sail to get out to Waiona Bay (opposite Maud Island). The bay provided a beautiful anchorage as a spot for a communal lunch based on some delicious fried Kahawai that Brian had caught the day before.

Breezes definitely picked up after lunch as the group headed back up the inlet. After clearing the marine reserve around Maud Island, the fishing line was one again put out – netting two more good sized Kahawai for the larder. Really good breezes made for some great sailing in Tawhitinui Reach.

We got back to the the Penzance Bay jetty about 6:00pm. Susan and Ian headed back into town while Rod and Carol-Anne remained on board for the night. All-in-all, it was a beautiful day on Pelorus Sound. (Penned by Ian Dohoo.)


21–29 January | Seven Pass trip | Nelson Lakes National Park | Leader: Brian Renwick


“This looks a lot easier than I remember!” Two seconds later, the guardian of Moss Pass punished Brian for his rash remark. With perfect Monty Pythonesque timing, he took one step down and promptly arsed over, sliding a few metres down the steep, loose gut amid a shower of rubble; the guardian exacting a tribute of a little skin and blood. After establishing Brian was ok, they all had a big laugh about it. Talk about cockiness coming before a fall…

Some trampers bag peaks; others bag huts. This was to be a pass-bagging trip: seven passes between 1785 and 1870 metres elevation. The first four days we followed Te Araroa from St Arnaud to the Waiau River, knocking off Travers Saddle and Waiau Pass on the way, then hanging a right to ascend to Lake Thompson. We had chosen day three for our first rest day, ambling up from West Sabine Hut to Blue Lake, arriving at the hut before moderate afternoon rain set in, which became heavy in the evening.

Soon after arriving at Lake Thompson and setting up camp, we were joined by three other trampers who had just come over Thompson Pass.

Day five was to be a toughie. We quickly gained Thompson Pass after breaking camp, and climbed the knob to the southeast, our highest elevation of the trip at 1880m, just eclipsing Waiau Pass. From here we dropped down into the D’Urville basin and started our traverse to D’Urville Pass. This went well, sidling across scree, light grass, and the occasional rocky bit. One of these “rocky bits” just kept getting steeper, necessitating removal of packs and passing them down. We finished off by a shortcut up a broad steepish gully and traverse across and up almost to D’Urville Pass, all on good rock, to avoid a boring scree grunt. This was a challenge, and good fun!

After the obligatory photos at D’Urville Pass, we trudged down the scree to the wee tarn for a snack, and checked out the next stage to David Saddle. There really seemed to be only one way to go: an ascending sidle to pass under a near-vertical rock face. Soon after, we picked up a line of cairns, but they seemed to lead across and down to the Matakitaki, perhaps a shortcut to avoid the steep gully below the tarn which we had ascended in September on good cramponing snow. After a bit of scree and rock scrambling we found ourselves at the notch, at the base of the rock face. From here, a direct traverse took us to David Saddle, where we stopped for a late lunch, about 2:15pm.

Up to this point, we had found the day sufficiently challenging to be interesting and mostly enjoyable, but then it took a turn for the worse. We descended the scree, looking for cairns to the left to indicate a route into the West fork of the D’Urville, which I had followed upwards eight years earlier. Nothing sighted, but Ian found a line of cairns that went down some uncomfortably steep ground towards the D’UrvilleForks.

Decision time; which way to go? We opted for the line of cairns, but soon lost them. We could see a route down, albeit steep, so went on and eventually found ourselves among rough vegetation on the terrace above the main creek. All traces of the trail I had followed eight years earlier had disappeared.

After further descent, we spotted a cairn, then a big orange triangle at the bush edge. The track was initially quite challenging and we had to scout around a bit “Does it seriously go down this steep, slippery creek?” Well yes, it did, but then it got into the bush proper and from there it was plain sailing.

After the trip, I found a recent write up of the new route on Lesson: don’t assume nothing’s changed; do your homework.

We arrived at Upper D’vUrville Biv at 5:40pm, later than expected, but pressed on to George Lyon Hut, arriving just before 9pm, rapidly running out of energy and daylight! After a dip in the D’Urville, Madeleine was rejuvenated and happily cooked her dinner, apparently none the worse for wear. Frankly, I was just about stuffed!

Day six continued fine, climbing up to Moss Pass in the cool of the morning. We had a pleasant break at the creek just before leaving the bush. Then over Moss Pass, where I met my nemesis, and on down to Blue Lake.

Day seven was our second rest day, just a stroll down to West Sabine Hut, also to recharge before attempting Gunsight, our final pass.

We took a shortcut, following the old Travers Saddle Track and then up the avalanche gully to the bush line. This worked well, and we set off across and up heavily grassed slopes, dotted with spaniards to keep it interesting. Madeleine was often lost to sight when the grass was well over her head. As we gained height, the going became easier; scree and light grass, sidling beneath the occasional rocky bluff, before reaching the steepish 200m gully leading to the pass.

The climb to the pass was quite enjoyable. We stuck to the true left, being half on stable scree and half on stable rock, and frequently on both at once. 

After high fives on top, then down on mostly horrible steep scree to a prominent notch close to the Mt Cupola bluffs. We continued down, close under the bluffs, the theory being that the spring avalanches would suppress the spaniards. It went as hoped, but eventually we had to cross a sizable section of spaniard-infested tussock slope which exacted more tribute, and gained Cupola Hut at about 1830. The views of Mt Hopeless in the changing evening light were rewarding, and again in the morning light.

Last day was a pleasant amble down Cupola Creek, followed by hot conditions down the Travers to Coldwater Hut, where we treated ourselves to the 3pm water taxi, having tramped about 130km including over 6000m of climbing (and 6000m of descent!) in nine days.


Participants: Ian Morris, Madeleine Rohrer and Brian Renwick (scribe).

25-27 January | South Twin | Kahurangi National 

Park | Leader: Silvano Lorandi


The Twins are two rocky waves in the sea of green rolling mountains of the Mt. Arthur Range.

They are near the busy Mount Arthur track but have none of Mt Arthur’s busy popularity.

Neglected perhaps, because of their intimidating look, but hidden from view from Mount Arthur, there is a beautiful green ramp to the sky for the pleasure of trampers – the west ridge of the South Twin (1796m) .

It’s accessible from Loveridge or Paddys Ridge in two days with camping or, as we did, a three-day tramp using Ellis Basin Hut as a base.

Six of us set off from Flora car park, up the hill.Descending into the Ellis Basin involves a short, steep section that with mud and wet tussock cannot be underestimated, take care there !

We arrived with no hurry and we were lucky to have the hut for ourselves (for both nights).

I have never seen so little water in the stream.The water doesn’t even form the waterfall below the hut because it disappears in holes along the meadows. 

On Saturday, we set off early for what we thought would be the most challenging part of the trip. We got on a lightly-marked track that sidles around the Twins on the south-western side. After approximately one hour on a relatively good track, we emerged from the bush into the karst .

Here we were blessed and cursed by too many cairns marking different routes, so we opted for a low one. However, it was confusing and ended up splitting up the group. On our return we choose a higher option – this was agreed to be better.

After passing through the saddle at 1248m, the slope became steeper. We traversed above cliffs until finally merging into the valley directly south of the peak. We continued on to the main ridge at the start of the west ridge. Feeling summit fever, Andrea sprinted away, while others took it easier After about 15 minutes, we were all on the top of the world on a blue sky day, with endless views.

The return was easier because we knew the tricks of the route but slower because of the intense heat. By the time we reached the hut, all of us had run out of water.

During the night the weather changed to wind and light rain – definitely time to go home.

We were careful in ascending out of the basin. As we reached the ridge, we were hit by the strongest winds I have ever experienced. Suddenly we were thrown to the ground. The wind ripped off my rain cover. So, the real challenge of this trip was escaping the ridge in gale force winds.

We ended up walking four legged, stopping every 50m to regroup, holding each other for support. After a slow battle to gain metres we reached the main track below Mt. Arthur. Here, people were having morning tea in the calm of the bush while we appeared to have come out of a clothes dryer. 

We enjoyed the peace and quiet of the bush, returning to our cars and heading home happy after three intense days in the hills shared with a lovely group of people. Thanks.


Participants: Silvano Lorandi (leader & scribe), Andrea Cockerton, Anna Riddiford (new member), Philip Palmer, Gina Andrews (visiting from Wanaka), Myrthe Braam (visitor), and for part of the trip, Liam Sullivan and Brian James.


 Nelson to Flora Saddle car park: 1.5 hours

 Carpark to Ellis Basin Hut: 5 hours

 Ellis Basin Hut to South Twin: 4.5 hours