2016/02 March Bulletin

posted 2 Mar 2016, 00:11 by Wakatipu Walker

Lake Wilson  30/31 January 

The weather forecast was looking pretty good, so it was decided to bring this trip forward to make the most of it.

On Saturday morning just before 9am we set off from the Routeburn carpark, making steady progress up to Routeburn Flats hut, where the Jet-Boilers amongst us had a brew up. Met a guided overnight tour coming down from Hobbs bivvy – interesting! Then it was a steady climb up towards Routeburn Falls, with a welcome diversion of seeing kaka up close – beautiful red breast and white head. We reached the Falls before lunch, so after smearing on suncream we continued to a lunch spot in the basin below Lake Harris.

It certainly was hot, and a bit of a struggle to get going again. Jude had been struggling with her new Osprey pack, and after studying her action our experts had decided the shop had sold her the wrong size – her pack’s back length was longer than any of the 3 other Ospreys in the party. Paul offered to carry her pack, while she carried his new super light version which fitted perfectly. This arrangement continued right up to Lake Wilson, whereupon Jude said she would be eternally grateful to Paul, maybe “he might want a free colonoscopy!” Paul wasn’t keen, but it generated much hilarity that evening.

Anyhow, back to the route description: after we reached Harris Saddle, we traversed around the west shore on a steep track to reach the flatter going of the Valley of the Trolls. Because of the dry weather the normally swampy flats were traversed with ease. Just before the final climb to Lake Wilson, we passed very close to an oldish bloke camping right beside the track. Several of us tried to engage him in conversation without success – he hardly looked up from his electronic reader and getting a reply to “Hello there” was not forthcoming – bloody rude bugger. We followed up the cairned route which follows a gully on the true left of the waterfall coming out of Lake Wilson. There was a small rock step to surmount in the middle section which required a bit of a rock scramble to get around, but soon we were cresting the final ridge to see the amazing panorama of Lake Wilson. It had taken us 7.5 hours from the carpark.

What an amazing camp-site, soon there were 7 tents dotted around the grassy terraces, and we relaxed and took in the views. With the afternoon still being warm, thoughts turned to a dip in the lake. Roger was first in, then after the men had retired to the kitchen area, the ladies decided to strip off and go in. Just as this was happening, our un-friendly neighbour from down in the valley turned up to check out the scenery. He was forced into talking to us as he stood in our camp and we tried to divert his attention from the naked bodies. “Are you a tramping Club?” he asked. “Yea, nudity is optional” I replied. Soon he disappeared as quickly as he had arrived.

After our evening meal, we wandered up the ridge above camp to check out the other route to the lake, and got spectacular views of the sun going down over Mts Tutoko and Madeline. It was a perfectly still, clear night with a beautiful celestial display(according to our star watcher Lindsay), and we woke to a perfectly still morning with mirror reflections on the lake. Cameras were working overtime.

We all wanted to stay forever in this perfect campsite, so our departure was delayed until 11am. Time for the female contingent to have another nude dip in the “lap pool” at the outlet, this time some serious swimming was involved with much louder sound effects.

We returned the way we came, lowering packs down the rock step, with a rock wren observing our exit from it’s territory. Lunch was in a beaut wee spot on Harris Saddle away from the madding throng. Then it was down the new stairway which jolts the knees to a water stop in the basin (Lindsay took this one step further with a quick dip). By the time we got to Flats hut, several others wanted a dip there, and refreshed we pushed on back to the carpark, time today 6.75 hours.

A welcome stop in Glenorchy for a beer finished one of the best all-time trips.

Party: Lindsay, Jude, Sally, Pip, Roger, Lorraine, Paul, Peter DLM.

Report: Peter DLM

 Footnote: DOC and the Routeburn Dart Trust have done a great job killing pests with 1080 and traps all the way up the valley as far as above Lake Wilson. Birds heard and seen: rifleman(lots), robins, kaka, bellbirds, tuis, kea, rock wren.  Birds heard: brown creepers and grey warblers.  The celmisia flowers were past their best, but there were some good ranuculus buchananii and edelweiss near the lake, and many snow marguerites.  

Lake Wilson - evening   photo:Peter


Lake Wilson - morning     photo:Sally

More Lake Wilson   photo:Lindsay

Milford Area base camp  6,7,8 February 

The Waitingi weekend trip was planned to the Milford road, with camping and day trips. This was taken up by Lindsay, Peter DLM and Jude F. Fiordland at its best, with sunshine, warmth, even after dusk and only the occasional sandfly! After a star studded night sky, day 1 took us up Gertrude Saddle, a glacial valley to begin, and then after a clamber upwards about 500 metres, a stunning saddle with views to Milford Sound, and the Tasman Sea - arguably one of the best views in New Zealand. The track was dry, and well cairned, with plenty of alpine flowers including a Mt Cook Lilly in flower. We spent two hours on the top, taking in the scenery and clambering up towards Barrier Knob, where there was still quite a bit of snow. We spotted another Rock Wren in the crevices, hopping and squeaking on a patch or Raoulia. The Gertrude Saddle sits at 1410 metres.The return journey took 2 hours 15 minutes, which included a plunge into Black Lake to cool off. A quick trip to Milford Sound and a cold beer followed, plus a viewing of the Sutherland’s grave.
Day 2 saw us ascend to Key Summit and then along a ridge towards the Livingstone Range where we lunched beside some tarns, overlooking Lake McKellar and the Greenstone Valley. At Kiosk Creek Doc campsite we enjoyed resident Kaka’s, Moreporks calling in the night, a noisy Robin in the tree above us, and the astonishing spectacle of a Karearea swooping above us, clutching a Tui, with another Tui in hot pursuit. Plenty of shrieking was going on. Fabulous two days of camping and tramping.

Report: Lindsay   photos: Peter


On Gertrude Saddle
From above Key Summit - Greenstone Valley on left
From above Key Summit looking down on Lakes Fergus and Gunn

Queenstown Park Station bike ride  13 February 


Several club members took advantage of the chance to cycle along the south bank of the Kawarau River between Boyd Road and Chard Farm. It was a great day out – thanks to the owners for making this possible.




Miners Trail   21 February 


Sunday’s trip to Greengates Hut and Deep Creek was cancelled due to high river levels after rain last week. Instead six of us, Lindsay, Sally, Lorraine, Roger, Prit and Alan took a leisurely walk around the Miner’s Trail. We went anti clockwise, starting up Tobin’s Track. Morning tea was enjoyed, followed by lunch on the top, admiring the views. No signs of Autumn are yet visible, but it won’t be long before it is transformed. Didn’t see a soul on the Miners Trail, unlike in Arrowtown where all was bustling and busy. We enjoyed an ice cream on the green to reward our efforts. 6 hours including our stops.

Report and photo: Lindsay