Trip Reports

29-30 July 2017 Port Craig

Nigel, Sue; Liz met up on Saturday morning; headed off on a frosty but lovely sunny day towards Port Craig. We had a beautiful walk along Bluecliffs Beach; had lunch at Blowholes Beach then took the high tide inland route from there to Port Craig schoolhouse hut, arriving after about 6 hours including our stops. There we woke up three young hunters who were having an afternoon snooze in the warm sunny hut. They already had the fire going so we had a cosy evening, shared also with a man from Franz Josef called Steve. The lads went out pig hunting in the evening; returned successful at midnight - but were very considerate; quiet whilst they cooked their tea. The next morning we could return via the low tide route, which is more interesting; about half an hour quicker, accompanied by Steve. Nigel got some paua; mussels on the way. Even though it was right on low tide, the rocky ledges at the far end of the low tide route were only just above the waves. Another pleasant tramp along the beach; back to the car before 3pm.
Off to the Last Light Lodge at Tuatapere for a hot drink; one of their yummy orange almond biscuits…. Thanks, Nigel, for organizing the trip.

1-3 June 2013 Queens Birthday Weekend Stewart Island (Report 2)

Tramping club trips to Stewart Island are becoming quite a regular event. Four of the "regulars" were there - Jocelyn, Neil, Viv and Chris. Neil was the advanced advance party, having being on a hunting trip prior to Queen's birthday weekend. Jocelyn was the advance party followed closely by Viv and Chris. Cathy then flew in to complete the party!

The rainy weather forecast possibly put a few others off, but for those who did go, it didn’t really matter - we just got wet! First up the "regulars" did the Horseshoe Point walk. Only three hours, but with great views out to sea. We delayed heading out in the hope that we'd do the circuit in the dry. As soon as Jocelyn said "perhaps we'll get away without any rain", the heavens opened!

After a hearty soup for lunch, the boys went and did a spot of fishing, bringing back blue cod. Jocelyn and Viv met Kathy off the plane and we all went to the pub - where else would you go on a rainy night on Stewart Island?!

The next day Cathy was booked in to do the Rakiura Track, so the rest of us decided to head in the same direction. Neil disappeared off on a hunting recce, whilst Chris and Viv strode off towards Port William with the aim of heading up to the haulers which have been "exposed" on the re-aligned Rakiura Track. Jocelyn accompanied Cathy as far as the Port William Hut, before returning to Lee Bay with Viv and Chris.

On Sunday it rained on and off all day, so we all stayed close to Half Moon Bay. Jocelyn, Neil and Chris decided to go oystering, whilst Viv got some exercise walking up and down the hills close to the township. By all accounts, the oyster-catching was not a great success - only two oysters were picked up - something to do with losing steering on the boat was the excuse!! But that night, the famous Stewart Island pub quiz beckoned and the four of us became the Fiordland Fumblers team. We acquitted ourselves quite well against strong local competition, finishing in the top five.

First thing on Monday morning, Viv, Chris and Jocelyn headed in the direction of Kaipipi Bay. In the gentle rain, we met Cathy finishing off the Rakiura Track. After a quick lunch, it was back to Bluff for Chris and Viv on the ferry. According to the skipper the sea condition was "not too bad" - this seems to be a euphemism for rough!

It was a great, relaxing weekend and thanks to Jocelyn and Neil for hosting us.

Viv Shaw

3-6 February Waitangi Day Weekend Eyre Mountains

Five of us met at the Key at 8.30 am, two German lads, Thomas and Chris, (Andrew’s friends) Robyn, leader Sue and myself on an ordinary overcast morning.

Intending to start our tramp at the end of a forest road, we continued  past the sign saying ROAD CLOSED then met men logging and discovered that we would be locked in until Tuesday if we continued on our merry way.  

A new plan was hatched.  We tried the road on the opposite side of the river but this was also locked.  

Another new plan was hatched. It was decided that we would go up to Bees Hut along the Irthing Road. This is where things got more interesting because the road had deep ruts so Robyn hopped out of the truck to give Sue directions at a particularly difficult section. This was the undoing of Robyn, she was walking backwards and took a tumble, put her hand out to break the fall and broke her wrist. (We did not know it at the time.)

We continued to Bees hut and Robyn made a very good decision that she should go and get her wrist checked out. Fortunately  Andrew was still with us so he took her back to Te Anau along with the fly and all the goodies that she had stashed in her pack.

After bidding farewell we had lunch and then started to walk in the fog to the Irthing Hut. After two hours walking we stopped for a break. This is where I discovered that I had difficulty in standing up straight and pain in my lower back. We continued to walk and came across a four wheel ute at the end of the road. Hunters!! we thought. We dropped into the forest after descending from the tops and continued along a marked track which was not well maintained. We reached the Irthing Hut about 4 pm to discover that there had been three hunters in the ute at the end of the road and they were well settled into Irthings two man hut.

What to do? The lads had a tent but we did not even have a fly. After some thought we took the wood out of the makeshift wood bivvy and proceeded to make this our home for the night. We had our evening meal and polished off half a bottle of wine then it started to rain. Oh dear!!! We were in bed by 7.30 trying to dodge the constant drips. Neither Sue nor I had much sleep, fortunately the rain stopped an hour later but by this time we were already sodden.

Next morning we set off at 9am and walked to Cromel Branch Hut where the sun came out briefly for lunch by the river.  We continued over two low saddles to Cromel Base Hut, by this time my back was extremely sore and Thomas carried my pack for the last half hour of the day.

Chris had the fire going which was a very welcome sight when we arrived and we were the only ones at the hut. At 10 pm a hunter walked into the hut and woke everyone, it appears that he and a friend had lost their way during the night and still had to walk up the hill to Bees Hut two and a half hours away.

Next morning we got going by nine and had lunch at the Bees Hut after a strenuous walk straight up the hill.  All in all it was a good weekend but not to be repeated in a hurry!!

Fay Edwards


1-3 June 2013 Queens Birthday Weekend Stewart Island (Report 1)

There were 4 club members on this trip and we were doing slightly different activities. So on the Friday night we agreed to write more than one report and this is mine.

Friday afternoon enjoyed a scenic flight over to the Island and spent a very pleasant evening starting with week wind down drinks at the pub followed by a superb meal cooked by the other club members who'd arrived before me at Jocelyn and Neils house.

Saturday enjoyed being transported to the start of the Rakiura Track by vehicle and a leisurely walk into the Port William Hut with Jocelyn who stayed just long enough for a cuppa before she returned to walk back with Viv and Chris Shaw who'd been out to check the historic log hauling machines near Maori Beach.

Had a pleasant evening chatting to one of the DOC rangers who'd come in for a night off and shared the hut with just 4 other people.

Lazy start the next day drinking a cup of tea in bed and reading a book listening to rain on the roof before setting off to the North Arm Hut. Did not see a soul all day and enjoyed listening to the birdsong which I swear is umpty dozen decibels louder than any other place I've visited. It was a sunshine and showers day, a bit muddier than I remembered it from when I'd run round the track 15 years ago but very enjoyable. I had the whole hut to myself and  watched the sun set over the North Arm with a long evening to read my book and contemplate a few necessary things that I've needed to work on. Lone tramping is definitely liberating. Winter tramping is also really restful with long hours of sleep.I walked out next day feeling refreshed and ready to take on anything.

The end of my trip was enhanced by meeting Jocelyn, Viv and Chris walking in from the road end to Kaipipi Inlet and meant I could travel in a vehicle back to the Hodges' without having to walk the last few kms on a hard road. Lunch and a hot shower then a spectacular flight back to Invercargill at sunset.

Excellent trip. Thanks to Jocelyn and Neil for their hospitality.

Cathy Lewsley


March 29th – April 1st (Easter) 2013 Livingstone Mountains to McKellar Hut

On Good Friday, Liz Scott, Sue Bennett and myself set out on my first adventure as a member of the Fiordland Tramping & Outdoor Recreation Club. The route was planned the evening before and I was very happy to hear that we would be off track and above the bushline as much as possible. As it eventuated, it was even more exciting than I anticipated because we had windy white-out conditions from about 1300m and I was able to witness Liz’s masterful use of compass and map in what really seemed to be the top of nowhere, but in reality was actually the Livingstone Mountains. After several hours we changed course at an altitude of 1540 metres and headed east-ish until the requisite saddle loomed out of the mist and we found the ridge we needed and headed down and into the bush, coming out at McKellar hut. After a peaceful night in my tent, and a somewhat more sociable night in a full hut, we set off the next day up the McKellar saddle and then up above the bushline again.

This was a lovely sunny day with good visibility and it was great to see where we had journeyed the day before. A fairly gentle stroll along the side of the Ailsa Mountains (notwithstanding some determined scrub that sought to trip us up) saw us passing some pretty tarns before heading down through the bush to intersect the Routeburn ‘highway’ just along from Howden Hut. By now we had met up with more friends, Harriette, David and their two children. Our bush-bash down to the track was ably led by Will aged 7, who nimbly guided us through the rainforest and climbed the odd tree while he waited for us to catch him up. I thoroughly enjoyed my first trip with the Fiordland Tramping & Outdoor Recreation Club and look forward to meeting more of you on subsequent tramps!

Lynette Dalglish

26-27 November 2012 Borland Valley

On a wild and windy Saturday, Bev eventually secured a boat that would take us to Hope Arm as the jet boat that had been booked considered the lake too rough.

After a quick inspection of the Hope Arm hut and noting a large beech tree outside had been felled we set off over the saddle into the Garnock Burn. A pleasant wander up the Snow White Flats with some interest being taken in the amount of deer sign and the remains of old carcasses. After a hour or two we had lunch by the main river on a nice bend in the river in a sheltered sunny spot.

After another short walk we made it to a major side stream where we left the main valley and ascended a steep ridge that Bev had descended on a previous trip, noting some random DOC markers well up the route. The party was well spread out by the time the bush line was reached.

Here we had a short break and then continued up through scrubby mountain beech forest on to the tussock fields above. These we sidled across slippery dry tussock slopes to where it saddled with the North Borland. As it was only 4.00pm we decided to carry on into the head of the North Borland. A descent was made that became tricky at the bottom due to a large slip near the valley floor.

We continued down stream through pleasant forest and tussock clearings and located a beautiful camp site above the river where we pitched our tents and got into the serious job of eating and drinking. We enjoyed our evening meal by celebrating Faye's birthday with selection of cheese and crackers, red wine, chocolates and broad range of food from dehy’ card board to delicious tinned casserole!

After a leisurely Sunday breakfast we waded down the upper Borland to avoid the sub alpine scrub until we reached the North Borland hut for a second breakfast and brew. We then made a steady pace on a freshly cut forest track to the Borland junction where lunch was had. John Whitehead and Bob Perry our chauffeurs kindly met us by the limestone bluffs and our transport awaited us at the road above.

Thanks to Bev, Sue, Faye and Tina.

John Stevenson

Easter 2012 Jackson Peaks Kepler Mountains

The tramping club trip to Jackson Peaks was high on my priority list, I was sure there would be magnificent views from this ridge. (Nothing against the Kepler Track, - I just find walking via Iris Burn a bit boring.) And now after experiencing endurance scrambling up and down steep slopes I have to admit that this trip has become one of my favourite ones of all.

On Easter Friday, at 8.20am a group of 5 keen trampers gathered at the water taxi jetty on Te Anau lakeshore. Liz Scott - our team leader and local GP (good to know we had a first aid professional with us), her friend physio Lois Martin, Sue Bennett - nature specialist, Ray Willett - our nationwide famous local identity and me.

Friday morning was pretty straightforward - by water taxi to Brod Bay, then we walked up to Mount Luxmore, where Fay - DOC ranger, made a cuppa for us and we had a chat, also with Alistair Jukes, who was checking stoat traps. It was a lovely sunny day, we continued up to Mount Luxmore where we had our lunch break and then further to a place called China's Wall where we turned left off the track into wilderness. At first we sidled towards the ridge of Jackson Peaks ridge and then walked along the tops reaching our highest point of the trip at 1611 m. The views were stupendous, evening sun was creating shadows and light beams between rugged mountain ridges and valleys. There was no wind, it was totally still. Our camp site was by a mountain tarn at 1300 m altitude. We scrambled down and after a long day of about 8 hours walking happily built our canvas town by the tarn. While preparing dinner we were visited by a mischievous kea, probably a local resident. Possibly we were attractive entertainment in an otherwise boringly quiet glacier carved valley. Ray’s yellow tent especially was on the priority list of this kea and even though Ray warned it and reminded it of the deadly fate of its ancestors the kea didn’t listen and kept Ray vigilant all evening. Meanwhile I was with Lois experimenting with night photos of the tarn and evening sky.

Late evening a strong wind blew up, that made our tents flap, however we woke up to another day in paradise. Blue sky above us, underneath was Lake Manapouri covered by a lid of clouds. This day was a shorter distance to walk, however the very steep slopes looked quite formidable. As there was no route we had to find our way via ridges, cliffs, bluffs and valleys. I have to confess, some bluffs and narrow ridges tops made me dizzy - forcing me to focus straight in front of me.
But this price was once again easily paid by awesome panoramic views from the ridge tops. We could see both lakes Manapouri and Te Anau, distant Mount Titiroa, Tor Ridge of the Murchison Mountains and Mount Luxmore, on the north horizon Mount Earnslaw and on the south a hazy view of Longwood Range. To be accompanied by Ray was very entertaining itself, with his endless stories, poems and jokes. By 4pm after about a 6 hour walk we ended up on a small peak with little tarns having a cuppa and contemplating whether to continue to the treeline to a dubious camp site or stay overnight on this lovely perch with marvellous views. A sudden encounter with a helicopter made it easy. Pilot Mark Deaker brought a wedding party to take memorable wedding shots on the tops with the background of Lake Manapouri. We asked him if he could see any tarns by the tree line - he could not remember, but promised us to fly over this spot and if there was any water blink at us by reflector. He didn’t, therefore it was clear this was our final camping spot. While the wind was picking up I was taking my last pictures of the sunset and subsequent moonrise - it was just million dollar entertainment.

Overnight we were bombed by wind gusts and by dawn the odd shower had started. However it was an ideal combination, from Fiordland came formidable clouds, yet above Te Anau and Manapouri basins there was still blue sky, with early morning sunbeams penetrating the clouds and showers creating a big rainbow above Lake Manapouri. After a last few morning pictures, we quickly packed our tents and hurried to finish the last leg on the ridge and descent to the forest. The first hour on the ridge we were drenched by showers coming from Fiordland but above the Manapouri basin was blue sky. Luckily the tussock and soil were still reasonably dry and we easily entered the forest, first scrambling and later walking down towards Forest Burn. Liz led us by the old fashioned, trustworthy way - with map and compass. We arrived above spectacular bluffs looking down into the Forest Burn then crossed the river and found a new track leading us safely back to the Kepler Track and Lake Te Anau Control Gates. By 6pm, after 9 hour day, we finished the trip, all tired but happy, privileged to have such a wonderful experience.

Thank you Liz for organising this great trip, I am looking forward to the next adventure.

Martin Sliva