A Quirky Tale of Queen’s Birthday Weekend 2013
Queen’s Birthday Weekend 2013
Queen’s Birthday Weekend 2013, destination: Red Deer Lodge, St Arnaud’s in Nelson Lakes National Park.
We are 25 intrepid trampers out for a good time. Ferry tickets dispensed by a serious-faced Bob at the inter islander ferry 7.30 am Friday. Old friends greet, new people peep, settle into seats, comfy, coffee, fresh scones, cream, catch- up conversation, enquiries made of the new faces, settle, settle.
Picton, luggage, shuttles, shop, eat, goooooo. Arrive, rooms, who snores, leaders first choice, comfy pillow sort, eye up unknown roommates, settle, settle.
Roaring fire, conversation, read a book, food groups: what have you got? Tai chilli fish curry, laksa, lamb shanks, schnitzel, mini chocolate tarts, French bean pot, shepherd’s pie, stewed veg with halloumi cheese; that dessert looks yummy, Dutch apple cake: no home baking in our group, sad face.
Helen, the mulled wine and nibble goddess spreads her creations upon the table, a quick stomp/ patter of feet, table rushed, appreciative mmms HOT FRESH CHEESE SCONES!!! Hot spicy wine, munch munch, gulp gulp.
Don't forget the mouse: black, sleek, peeping from under the couch, cover and close food: what was it named?
Red Deer Lodge rules read by cheery camp mum Karen. Bob proposed the group walk for Saturday: Parachute Rock St Arnaud’s Range. Off to sleep.
Breakfast, who turned off my egg? Where is my used tea bag on tea spoon? Fire alarm set off from steam and smoke, floor flooded due to water boiler over-full. 8.30 sharp assembled outside, whew made it. Off we go. Lovely Lake Rotoiti, beech forest, fungi red brown on green moss, fungi mustard yellow on tree trunks, their own little forest within a forest. Purple button mushrooms against lime green leaves, fungi flourishing everywhere.
Up up, snow under foot, up up, above the bush line, extra layers. We made it, views admired, photos taken, cloud comes down, rain falls, wind blows, throw a snow ball, let’s go down, down from this lofty height of 1600ft.
Whew, made it, back at Lake, Ray and Pete off to shop for RTD’s. Bob disparaging - lolly drink too sweet. Some straight into shower, I build a fire, warm, make drink, come back, comfy chair taken, sad face.
Others carry on other shorter lake walks, so fit, so active, the wonderful outdoors, the love of life.
Nibble goddess Helen serves up gluhwein and antipasto mmmm, quick stomp stomp, patter patter of feet, nothing left for our rodent friend.
Quiz night, camp mum entertains us and dishes out prizes, laughter, fun, singing, teasing, old stories revisited, new memories made.
Janet and Bob organize 'competing' day trips for Sunday - Janet determinedly proves she can do it- shuttle organized to top of Mt Roberts car park and 11 go on Janet's trip to Bush Line Hut 1400 metres, and back. Views of lake as we rise up through the beech trees, blue sky, distant farmed valleys. No hurry, 11 little dwarves climbing Pinch Gut.
Down comes the cloud, in blows the wind, rain falls. Pile into corrugated iron shelter and layer up, help her zip up, help him get leg into overtrou, Ray dons Lyn’s black tights over his shorts: very sexy.
Up we go, onto the ridge, into the mist, windblown, cold, snow underfoot. Made it: Ridge Line Hut. Lunch break, laughing, joking, 3 Swiss men arrive, turned back from attempting to get to Angelus Hut, give them Whittaker’s chocolate, ‘New Zealand owned’, while casting aspersions on Cadbury’s.
We rug up and brave the wind, rain and cloud. Across the tundra, clouds clear, we see the lake - lovely. Down we go, we warm up, sun comes out. What a contrast, layers come off.
Back to pub, hot chocolate, rum, whiskey, chips, wine, congratulations all around on wonderful day. Then, out of the blue, romance shows its wordless touch when one of our group meets an old flame. We all watch and wonder at this momentary rendezvous before our lucky member returns radiant and flustered!
10 with Bob to circumnavigate Lake Rotoiti. Saunter, chat. Birdsong, tui, fantail, tomtit. Lake calm. Easy track. No rush. Rebel group goes slow! Plans to avoid river crossing. Wet feet. No no!
Arrive at jetty, rain pitters, Lake Head Hut quick march. Eat lunch. All together. Czech couple. Working visa. Arms stressed from kiwi picking. At hut for R and R. Lovely girl, good English. Teaches it in Czech Republic. Here to practise. Learn more.
Out of hut into sunshine! Bob’s 5 to Travers crossing. Others re-trace steps. Saunter, chat. Black Robin. First spotted. Down on track. Cameras click. Trampers leave. Insects. Forage.
River high, rough. Too strong to cross. Bob’s group catches up and most go on. Arrive at beach. Lovely sun. Stop, relax, tea, fun. Bob in front, unaware, goes on. Later, turns. No group. Shock, horror! Worry, worry. Where are they?
Finished tea, reluctant group leave the beach. Catch Bob. Reprimand! Kept in front. Quick march. Back to lodge. Another day of happy, wonderful walking.
Back to lodge, fire, food, where shall we trip to next year? Chores delegated for the morrow. 11am shuttles arrive to take us to Hunters Winery where BOBS MOB enjoys the culinary delights and a smaller group continues on to Picton.
Evening ferry back to Wellington. Entertainment provided by a jazz band and thoroughly enjoyed. Some view the movie ‘World Atlas’. Packs retrieved and we scatter back to our daily lives after a great experience of communal living and shared connection with our beautiful country Aotearoa.
- Party members
- Christine Ben-Tovim and Julia Fraser, Karen Turner, Bob Cijffers (Co-leaders), Lainey Cowan, Patrick Cuming, Joanne Gapes, Alan Graham, Dianne Hill, Mark Jackson, Ann & Brian Johns, Julia & Brian Landymore, Ray Markham, Liz Martin, Jane-Pyar Mautner, Janet McMenamin, Gloria McQueen, Helen Quinlan, Peter Shanahan, Lyn Taylor, Adrienne Vermeulen, Ingrid Ward, Marris Weight