Auckland Baptist Tramping Club

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A crowd of almost forty people turned up at Windsor Park Baptist Church for the reunion get-together of the Christmas tramp to the northern end of the South Island. For those who were on the trip it was a time of great nostalgia, a feeling that the trip had started again; for those who did not come it was a great opportunity to armchair-travel the expedition.

The churchís swimming pool was open from 4pm but late afternoon rain had put most people off coming early for a swim.

A pot-luck BBQ dinner began at 6:30pm with the meat being barbequed beside the swimming pool and brought inside to be served alongside the contributions of salads. A sumptuous smorgasbord dessert followed.

It happened to be David's birthday, and he was given a lovely chocolate birthday cake to honour the fact that he came into the world about the time of the 1974 Commonwealth Games in New Zealand. We also had the opportunity to sign a birthday card for Barbara who was just a few days off completing halfway between her coming into the world and getting a telegram from the Queen.

Those who had taken photos on the summer tramps displayed their albums, and these attracted a constant stream of browsers; those who had not taken photos on the trips reached into their wallets to order copies at $1 each.

Peter banged the gong about 8pm to start our journey back to the South Island using an epidiascope for our transport. He gave a brief introductory talk, mentioning that the group took about 20 Bibles into the huts as part of an outreach project of Seek Freedom. This Christian ministry was started up by Ria Summerhayes from Great Britain who, when visiting New Zealand a few years ago, had a vision of leaving Godís Word in backcountry huts so trampers could read them and find Christ amongst His creation.

We explored the Mt Arthur Tablelands with leaders Stuart and Nelson, having to put up with driving rain that fell horizontally as well as vertically, then enjoying the fantastic mountain scenery once the weather cleared. June and Barbara each did a stint at the wheel of the epidiascope.

The weather was still changeable as Stuart and Barbara took us along the lovely coastal tramp from Totaranui to Marahau, being the Abel Tasman Coastal Track. We stopped at the beaches, ate in a country cafe while waiting for the tide to go out to cross an inlet, and saw spectacular rock formations on the coast.

Nelson showed us a favourite place of his - Mt Owen. We visited the rocky marble country surrounding the highest point in the Kahurangi National Park and looked out across to the conspicuous peaks of Mt Patriarch in the distance. We climbed the mountain in dry weather, saw nothing from the top as it was in cloud, and came down in pouring rain. On one of the nights we had a long concert of the music of Thorís Thunderbirds and the spectacular flash light show of Lite Ning. One track that was completely dry on the way up was a raging torrent as we came down.

The Thousand Acre Plateau was a spectacular sight with its sheer cliffs on the edge. We thought of our Club president (who was with us) as we stayed in Old Peteís Hut; as we paused to think of God on top of The Needle, we enjoyed How Great Thou Art and other music on the presidential mouth organ.

The final part of our journey was to the Nelson Lakes and the Travers Sabine, where we
played cards in the hut, crossed the saddle enjoying an alpine garden that only God tends,
and doing a day trip to the Blue Lake. We climbed up to Lake Angelus and saw one of the
Bibles being placed in the hut with a brief dedication ceremony and prayer time.

We joined the six who chose to do day walks and activities at St Arnaud. There was a drive to Nelson for a bout of retail therapy, walks to Mt Robert and around Lake Rotoiti, the local annual lakeside barn dance giving a chance to dance with and meet the local people, and a classical music concert. But the highlight was to go to a Sunday service at the local country church and gaze out through the window at Godís creation outside. Heather summed all this us in a poem she read to us.

It was 10:30pm as our epidiascopic bus pulled into the Windsor Park Baptist Church. Jocelyn gave a vote of thanks to the organisers for such a wonderful holiday she enjoyed so much. Nelson told us that we were beginning to think about planning for our 2002-03 Christmas tramp, and Peter summarised what trips the Club would be doing up to the end of April. Warren closed off in prayer before we all headed off home.