Auckland Baptist Tramping Club

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Group 1                28-31 Dec

The Queen Charlotte track from Ship Cove to Anakiwa is about 71km which offered us great views of the deep blue sea and lush green bush. Thank God for the beautiful sunny weather for 3 days and 1 cloudy day which was perfect for our tramp.

Saturday 28

We took a shuttle from Blenheim to Picton and boarded a water taxi to Ship Cove which seemed like a start of an exciting adventure. Stunning views of the sounds and a big seal was sighted at the jetty on a stopover at Motuara Island. On arrival at Ship Cove, a short walk around the scenic and historic reserve where Captain Cook landed before a gradual climb through the rich native beech trees forest. A short stop at a saddle to enjoy the views and photos. Then an undulating walk to Endeavour Inlet where we spent a night at Miners Camp, a beautiful farm stay. What a treat as we had organic home made dinner (roast pork with fresh salad) and breakfast (bacon and egg or muesli) - all fresh from the farm. Track 21.7km, 5.24h moving time

Ruth shared with us abut the self-sacrificing love of God. We all slept very well that night.

Sunday 29

We set off to Punga Cove, walked passed Madsens camp where Ruth bought a Manuka hardwood walking pole for sale by the track side. The easy track then follows the waters edge all the way and passed a forest where we saw bellbirds, fantails and wekas. Winding downwards to Punga Cove which is a lovely resort, with incredible views, restaurant/bars, kayaks, swimming and spa pools which some of us took advantage of. Track 11.7km, 2.34h moving time

We self catered for our dinner and Paul led a devotion on the way God Came Down into our world as a vulnerable baby.

Monday 30  

4 people in our group took the water taxi as it was going to be a challenging day of 8
hours walk (23Km) to Portage Bay. We climbed out of Camp Bay on the ridge lines to the Kenepuru Saddle to enjoy the breathtaking spectacular views of the Queen Charlotte and Kenepuru Sounds. We were impressed by the turquoise waters of the Kenepuru Sound. From there we tramped to Bay of Many Coves Saddle and down to the shelter. We walked on Manuka Lane through the Manuka forest. Finally descended to Torea Bay. Track 25.7km, 5.47h moving time

We were happy to reach Portage Hotel. Most of us had fish and chips for dinner. Afterwards we adjourned to Paul & Ruthís room for coffee and Hua shared with us from Psalm 121 and encouraged us to lift our eyes to the hills and look above our circumstances.

Tuesday 31  

Afresh from a good rest, 15 of us set off for another 8 hours day walk. We dropped Geoff and Rosemary Tremain at Mistletoe Bay (as they tented there) before setting off. There was an old bridle path above Onahau Bay, where we saw some magnificent horses gazing on the paddocks. Throughout the walk we had spectacular views over the Queen Charlotte Sound. A great finish into a native bush walk of beech tress and silver ferns before reaching Davies Bay which seems to be a popular picnic spot. Finally reaching Anakiwa for a fitting treat of ice-cream and rest before catching the earlier than planned water taxi to Picton. Track 22.4km, 5.32h moving time

Group 2                29 Dec-1 Jan

Sunday 29

We had 4 very enjoyable days in perfect weather for our 71 Ė 80km hike of the Queen Charlotte Track. Signs mark the total distance as 71km, however it soon became apparent that a new track had been created for part of the Ship Cove to Endeavour Inlet stretch, to better service mountain bikers. The more gently graded track wound up the first hill and skirted around a peninsula, adding further kilometres to Day Oneís trek and bringing the total closer to 80km.

After a tranquil trip in calm conditions through the Marlborough Sounds, we arrived mid-morning at Ship Cove, where we spent time reading the Information boards, detailing Captain Cookís four sojourns to Ship Cove between 1770 and 1777, where he interacted and traded with Maori living there. After photos in front of the Cook Memorial we set off on the wide, easy track up the hill, past Resolution Bay, finally skirting the edge of Endeavour Inlet, admiring the many baches and gardens close to the water. We called in at Furneaux Lodge and joined many others basking in the sunshine on the front lawn and enjoyed ice-creams. It was only a twenty minute walk from here to the privately owned Miners Camp, our first nightís accommodation. We were warmly welcomed to our hostís home and watched as our full packs, having been transported by water taxi, were towed up the hill. After an excellent meal on the deck, Ian shared devotions. Having just celebrated Christmas, Ian spoke about how the birth of Jesus had been foretold by Isaiah hundreds of years earlier, with accurate detail.

Monday 30

Our second day was only a short 4 hours to Punga Lodge, so after a superb cooked or Continental breakfast, we picked up our packed lunches, prayed a blessing on our hospitable hosts and left about 9am. The track wound around the edge of the Endeavour Inlet, leading to Camp Bay, a campground, where we stopped to eat lunch before arriving at Punga Cove five minutes later. Our group had total occupancy of a communal kitchen where we cooked our own meal and Ian shared a devotion about why Jesus came and how his death had also been foretold hundreds of years earlier.  

Tuesday 31

Day 3 was an 8 hour undulating walk along the ridge with views to Marlborough Sound on one side and Kenepuru Sound on the other One member of our group opted to catch the water taxi for this stretch. Arriving late afternoon at Portage Hotel we were keen to book dinner as this was New Yearís Eve. Our group took over a corner at the Snapper Bar, ordering fish and chips or pizza for our dinner. Many of us also ordered ham and cheese toasted sandwiches to keep for our lunch the next day, which were great! We wandered down to the wharf and spent an hour or two enjoying the views in the mild sunny evening and watching boats heading out into the bay and imagining where they would be seeing the New Year in.

Wednesday 1

New Yearís Day, our last day, had the full contingent walking the 8 hours to Anakiwa. It began with a very long climb up to the ridge Two ladies had a 30 minute head start and the rest of us didnít catch up with them until the top. Morning tea was in a lovely grassy setting where Christine shared a devotion on joy, and how joy is that deep and enduring sense that all is well even when circumstances are against us. It is a fruit of the Spirit and something we should seek. Soon after we came to the Te Mahia Saddle where we had lunch and then sidled along the hillside overlooking paddocks and bays below us. On this track several mountain bikers rang their bells or called a cheery greeting as they passed.

A water taxi was booked to pick us up from Anakiwa at 5.30pm for the trip back to Picton, however we arrived at Anakiwa at 3.30pm with two hours to spare. I called the Picton Water Taxis and they were only too happy to come earlier. We had time to enjoy a drink and icecreams at the mobile shop before we were whisked back to Picton on a surprisingly choppy sea.  A wonderfully scenic four days where it had been a treat to have our full packs transported for us and to enjoy some special home cooked meals.
2-4 Jan

After thoroughly enjoying the beauty of the Marlborough Sounds during the Queen Charlotte Walkway experience, three of us took the opportunity to explore local walks around St Arnaud.

Thursday 2

On our first day we visited the local DOC/Information Centre before setting out on the Moraine Walk, 1.84km in length. We started off walking alongside the St Arnaud-Kawatiri Highway before turning inland and walking through beautiful stands of native forest. The walk drops down to Lake Rotoiti at West Bay. After a stop for snacks and to admire the lake with Mt Robert towering above, we joined the Brunner Peninsula Walk which is a 1 hour well-shaded and easy walk by the lakeside. The Black Valley walk is a very pleasant alternative route from Kerr Bay back to our accommodation, running through stands of lovely bush and beside a gentle stream.

Friday 3

Our second day we took the water taxi on a very windy, blustery trip across Lake Rotoiti to Lake Head. A 15 minute wander further up the track lead us to the Lake Head hut, with the Seymour Mountains in the distance. We then made our way back down to Kerr Bay via the Lake Head track which took approximately 3 hours. The track wound its way through beautiful bush, including many beech trees, and crossed over a few streams. There was evidence of washouts, with the track diverted in places, and plenty of rain earlier in December left the track muddy in places. Views of the St Arnaud Range, Mt Robert, and the Seymour Ranges were beautiful. Whiskey Falls on the far side of the lake was glimpsed and noted as a marker point. A popular walking track, the water taxi was busy all day ferrying people across the lake. We encountered a number of people out for a day walk, with some planning to head further afield.

Saturday 4

Our third day was, unfortunately, a drizzly cold day - a perfect chance to stay put and curl up in the lounge with a good book and a cuppa!
Jan 3-4

When we carefully weighed out and packed the food in Auckland, we did so for a party of 8. Due to late withdrawals our actual group was down to 5. In the dining room at St Arnard we did our best without the aid of scales to reduce down the food quantities for the reduced party size so that we did not need to carry more food than we needed too. We also now only needed one stove for the smaller group.

Friday 3

We left St Arnaud at 7.30am on our arranged shuttle (Nelson Lakes Shuttles) to Lake Rotoroa. The road trip between the lakes was about 40 minutes. Our boat (Lake Rotoroa Water Taxi) was at the wharf when we arrived so no waiting around and we denied any sand flies an early morning snack. I observed that the boat skipper was wearing long pants and was well covered up while we were in shorts and potentially an easy target. The boat trip was about 20min up the lake to the jetty by the D'Urville hut.

We set off for Morgan hut in fine weather and soon came to a grass area at the junction of the track leading to the Sabine Hut. Our track through the grass clearing was marked with tall poles and these were needed as the grass was so long that a short person could even be hidden from sight. The grass was wet and across the track and because I was at the front, I ended up with wet shorts by the time we reached the other side of the clearing. It soon came clear to us that the track was not well used and where it was not well defined locating an orange marker gave us assurance that we were on the right track. Unfortunately, the area had been subject to a storm in December and following the markers in some cases was not possible as the track had been washed away into the river below. We sometimes needed to make our own pathway through dense undergrowth to meet up with th? useable track again. Three of us had falls and the weight of our packs pushed us forward onto sharp branches giving us cuts but fortunately no bones broken. Some parts of the track climbed up steeply to get around bluffs while other parts of the track followed the side of the river at an easy gradient.

On reaching the Morgan hut we boiled up a welcome hot drink and after a short rest David and Paul started on the track towards George Lyon Hut. We had to cross rocky stream beds which after the snow melt would be roaring torrents and in places walk along the river side stones which in flood would be covered in water. We went up this track for about 30 minutes before retracing our steps and returning to the hut after taking photos of the magnificent mountain peaks in the distance.

We had the Morgan hut to ourselves for the night and noted that although the hut book was 3 years old it was only half full. We enjoyed an evening meal of instant soups, rice risotto, salami and beans and a desert of apples and semolina.

Saturday 4

With injuries in the party we decided to set off early at a leisurely pace knowing that the D'Urville hut would give us shelter while we waited for the boat booked for 5.30 pm. We stopped on route in a grassy clearing for lunch.

Distance between the huts approximately 14km each day. Moving time on our day out 4h 20m with 1h 20m for stops which included our lunch stop. We were blessed with fine weather and our Parkas stayed in the pack for the whole tramp.

While waiting in the D'Urville Hut we noticed a radio telephone and Paul contacted the water taxi to see if they could come earlier but was told that the time of the van transport back to St Arnaud would not be able to be changed. We decided to stick with the original plan but in the end the boat came 30 minutes early. The boat trip back across the lake was rougher than the trip to the hut due to wind and waves on the lake. While we waited for our shuttle the sand flies tried to get a meal from us but fortunately due to the weather conditions there were only a few of them. Back to St Arnaud and welcome hot showers for all.
January 3-5

Friday 3

We were blessed with fine calm weather as we set off across Lake Rotoroa on a 9.40am trip.  Tramping started 10.20am with a combination of level path and a rocky climb over a steep incline, and leafy path descent to follow.  We soon reached the first grassy flat, before the bridged stream of iridescent blue water. We had a welcome morning tea stop here, before meeting the junction to the Durville track (where the other group had headed off, more than an hour ahead of us). In 50 min we had only knocked off 30 min timing according to the signpost!

The track continued to follow the river with scenic views, but we soon encountered the track perched on a fragile bank, with recent erosion and fallen trees across the track, some able to be climbed over and others circumvented. Landslides had fallen over the track, and then part of the track totally washed away. Bush bashing, we finally found the linking track beyond. We were making slow progress according to the km readings on our phones.  Bryan was leading and did a good job at giving rests and stops as needed.  Peter was tail-ender. At our lunch stop, Peter shared thoughts on Psalm 121 and how it assures us of Godís care and provision.

The track seemed endless, with thankfully some more level and undamaged parts. The first group finally arrived at the hut at 5.45pm and the last ones at 6pm.  (It had taken us 7.5+ hours for a 5.5hr track, 15.5km).

At the hut we learned from other trampers that the track to Blue Lake Ė proposed for Day 2 - was badly damaged as well, and the 3hrs one way is expected to take 4.5hrs.  As we did not want to tramp for 9 hours, we decided that evening, to do an alternative day walk the next day.

Charles was keen to collect river water after the Ranger informed us it was almost pure!  (compared with the rain water, exposed to birds and possums.) Charles also led the dishwashing team for every meal.

Saturday 4

Another fine day, we took it easy to begin with and finally set off at 9.20am, to follow the path leading to the Travers saddle.  Following the other side of the river from Day 1 (true right), we found more track washout and flooding, more sizeable trees and debris, storm-dumped in the river, and waded through parts of the track.  After a short stretch the track turned inland, and we followed an undulating track through Beech forest quite high up above river level. After several stops, we reached the bridged Chasm.  It was extremely deep with the rushing water flowing 20+ metres below. The tree roots formed a natural amphitheatre for seating, and Bryan shared his devotion about the face of God is turned toward us and His presence is always with us.  

With Peterís encouragement a number of songs were sung in this amphitheatre!  Lucy stunned us with her superb Choir-trained voice!

Bryan, Peter and Charlie decided to investigate the track a little further, and after encountering a very steep climb, decided to return, following the others in the group.
Back at the West Sabine Hut, Barbara shared a devotion intended for Blue Lake visit, relating the Lake being in the image of the North Island, and how we are created in the image of God, with His thinking and visioning abilities. The purity of the Blue Lake (80% visibility) was related to the fact that God desires purity in our lives.  

An evening game of 500 was played by Stephen and Charmian, Peter and Barbara.

Sunday 5

We were intent on making an early start knowing the condition of the track.  Coleman stove expert Steve, prepared water and porridge ahead of time! He also led us in stretch exercises prior to setting off on the track. Knowing what was ahead somehow made the track a little easier and we made good time, with help from Bryan over difficult washouts and treefalls. A few managed to trip on tree roots but no severe damage. But Barbara slipped into a stream off a slippery rock, and needed help being pulled out. A painful leg was quite a trial for the next 7-8km, and Ann and Bryan kindly stayed at the back to see her make it to the Sabine Hut and water taxi.

The fastest trampers caught an earlier water taxi, and the last 6 of us were picked up at 4.15pm, and met the others for transport from the lake to St Arnaud. Hot drinks were brought to us in the van!

We enjoyed a meal at the ĎDine Hardí Restaurant with the full group of 18. Coffee was enjoyed most afternoons at the Alpine Restaurant.
January 6-8

Monday 6

We all had to move from the Lodge to the motel units in the morning. The group did the Loop walk.  (Bryan, Jo and Barbara travelled to Blenheim for Barbaraís medical appointment resulting from a fall the day before on the West Sabine tramp)

Tuesday 7

Stunning fine weather, Lake Rotoiti at its best! We even captured reflections on the lake. The group took a water taxi from Kerr Bay to Lake Head, with driver Hamish. ($35pp. Barbara returned by water taxi - $40). From the jetty, the group walked into Lakehead Hut (15 min), then Lakehead track along the lake edge back to St Arnaud. (3-4 hours). Bryan and Jo climbed St Arnaud Range for views of the lake. (4.5hrs).

Wednesday 8

Rain in the morning soon eased. Bryan and Jo drove to Mt Robert Rd, walked to Whisky Falls and onto Coldwater Hut and return. (4.5hrs) The group enjoyed the Peninsula Nature Walk, Moraine walk and Black Hill Walk. Their lunch spot was at West Bay.  For our final night we dined at the Alpine Lodge Restaurant.

Our devotions were selected readings from The Word For Today. Training: Steve was keen to lead some in stretch and fitness exercises either morning or evening!
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