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This article was first published in the Tararua Tramper Volume 89, no 6, July 2017

St Arnaud, Nelson Lakes

Queen’s Birthday, 2017

The 2017 Queen’s Birthday Lodge trip to Red Deer Lodge in St Arnaud was led by Bob Cijffers and Joanne Gapes. There were 16 TTC members on the trip.

On Friday 2nd June, roll call was taken with the check-in at 8.00 am at the Interislander Ferry Terminal. The sailing across Cook Strait proved to be smooth and uneventful. Once in Picton, the group collected and loaded their gear onto the bus transporting us to St Arnaud township. The trip was scenic and pleasant with a few trip members dozing in the afternoon sun. Once we arrived at St Arnaud, with a couple of wrong turns and re-directions from the group, we arrived at Red Deer Lodge. Some of the group took advantage for the afternoon to explore Lake Rotoiti wharves, with Howard Symmes re-acquainting himself with the large eels that live by the western wharf. Time was also spent admiring the architecture and the stunning view from the St Arnaud multi-denominational church. The view framed by a cross from the large front window of the church up the Travers Valley is awe inspiring.

Food groups worked together to provide memorable meals. On Saturday and Sunday evenings, Helen Quinlan provided gluwein and delicious nibbles for the whole group. Much appreciated with the cold, frosty weather.

On Saturday morning there was an early start with the aim being to climb to Parachute Rocks on the St Arnaud Range. This walk began at the eastern side of Kerr Bay on Lake Rotoiti, climbing on a gradual then steepening zigzag path through changing beech forest to a height of 1400 metres at the bush line. There were spectacular views across Lake Rotoiti from Parachute Rocks. These gained their name from the parachute-shaped gravel scree located just to the north. Four group members (Howard Symmes, Tricia Walbridge, Adrienne Vermuelen and Pip Newton) continued on to the ridge line, a further 200 metres climb. From the ridgeline, they reported fabulous views down the Wairau Valley, north to Mt Richmond Forest Park, west to Kahurangi National Park and south to the rest of Nelson Lakes National Park. From Parachute Rocks, there was the descent back through the beech forest to Red Deer Lodge.

Sunday involved being transported by bus to the Mt Roberts carpark. From there the ascent was up the Pinchgut Track, a well-formed steep zigzag track to the bushline. Above the bushline, where the group stopped briefly for morning tea, the views were spectacular and the small amount of wind was biting!! Additional clothing was a must as we made our way to Relax Shelter, where we waited briefly for all to regroup. From the shelter it was a short walk to the junction with Paddy’s Track, which initially involved a walk over an icy tussock landscape across the tops to Bushline Hut, where we stopped for lunch. The return to the lakeside was down the zigzag track across an open face, eventually returning to the shelter of the bush. We then walked back down the road to the peninsular leading to Kerr Bay. From there it was a choice of walking around the peninsular or over a small hill to return to the DOC station and Red Deer Lodge. Once back at Red Deer Lodge, Ray Markham reported that snow was forecast and by looking at the cloud formations, the snow was on its way.

Monday morning confirmed that snow had fallen, with cover on the tops of the St Arnaud Range and beyond. The forecast was for a southerly to make its way up the country. Our timetable allowed for a trip to the local café, located by Jeanette Martin, for our coffee fix. At 10.30 am we began our homeward journey. Lunch was at the Wairau Vineyard, where we were able to sample wines and purchase these if wanted, and enjoy a tasty lunch. In Picton we had time to spare before boarding the Bluebridge Ferry for our return. The trip was not as smooth as our Friday outward journey, with a noticeable southerly swell once out in the Strait. We made it back to Wellington, however, with that satisfied feeling from two days of great company and enjoyable tramping.

Party members
(leader and scribe).Bob Cijffers (leader), Joanne Gapes (leader),Tricia Walbridge, Ray Markham, Adrienne Vermuelen, Helen Quinlan, Muriel Christianson (scribe and photographer), Howard Symmes, Clare O’Brien, Ralph Wilkinson, Liz Morrison, Marris Weight, Ingrid Ward, Vicki Wogan, Pip Newton, Jeanette Martin.

Page last modified on 2017 Aug 09 23:14

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