Return to Welcome Flat
Welcome Flat is in the Copland Valley, south of Fox Glacier. Many of you will have visited it at least once, but Dave Reynoldsí ten years as a hut warden breaks most records. Dave loves this valley, its geology, botany, snow-covered surrounding peaks, and many explorable side valleys. When I tramped in to join Dave, he had the fire blazing in the wardenís hut, soup ready and the hot shower primed. The hut has comfy chairs, electric light, gas- operated fridge (with a supply of excellent cheeses), good library, and wardensí food boxes flown in by DOC. Unimaginable to many, including those in the main hut, a short distance away!
Certainly, such luxury was unthinkable in times past. My last visit to the Flat was in 1967 on the club trip led by Peter Jagger. Back then we stayed at the original 1914 hut before going up to Douglas Rock Hut for our Christmas celebration and then crossing the Copland Pass. The track was less well formed and there were few of the ravine crossing bridges that now make travel a lot easier. Peterís pack was vastly heavier than anyone elseís. Nobody complained, despite tiredness. It was just great to be there. During the crossing there was a near-fatal accident. Just past the top Peter slipped and was accelerating down an ice slope towards the unthinkable. Ian Pogson saved Peterís life by instantly leaping to grab him. These days the mountain sides of the pass are considered far too unstable to cross.
Welcome Flat Hut sits peacefully under the Sierra Range which towers steeply above it and is, arguably, best seen from in the hot pools. Up the valley is Mt Sefton and the Footstool and other ice-covered mountains. I have often recalled these views over the intervening years despite climbing and tramping in many other places. Dave and I explored some side valleys and we sent young Ethen, who had joined us, up the valley to check out Douglas Rock Hut. In the valley floor are huge boulders of schist, dislodged over the past ten thousand years. Dave photographed a tiny coprosma called C. brunnea that he hadnít noticed before.
There was a steady flow of visitors including people from all over the world. The wardenís duties include keeping everything spick and span. This didnít take long as we were well armed with mammoth brooms and mops. We could soon turn our attention back to the surrounding beauty. As this is a beech gap area there is plenty of Hallís tōtara and kaikawaka (mountain cedar) and, beyond the open flats, Olearia avicenniaefolia to admire. Dave has found that early July is often dry and therefore a good time to visit. The area has plenty of rain; 4000mm+, about four times that of Wellington. On our trip out there was time to take in the incredible kahikatea standing proudly on the Karangarua flood plains. Certainly a worthy World Heritage site!
- Party members
- Dave Reynolds, Ethan Collyns, Dave Bartle (scribe)