Nelsonian of the Year for the Environment

An Award for Conservation Work
Well, I guess the news is that I’ve been awarded Nelsonian of the Year for the Environment for 2016. Lots of congratulations (thank you). The item was featured on the front page of the local Nelson Mail and also in the Christchurch’s The Press too. You can check out the ‘results’ on the Stuff webpage which has more photos and even has a little video clip. Sorry about the advertisements before the start though.

The Weka invites the group for morning tea.

The Weka invites the group for morning tea.

Mt Arthur – Just So Far
The annual tramp up to the Mt Arthur summit was again called off due to the extreme conditions. We did get to about 200 metres past the track turn off to Gordons Pyramid before turning back. A very strong wind, freezing conditions and the cloud was quite low, it just was not worth pushing on. It seemed as if the weather was okay earlier and once we returned to the car park, the mountain top cleared. Frustrating for sure but I’m always happy to try another day. Back at the Mt Arthur Hut for lunch and is was enjoyable ‘playing’ with the local wekas – they even shared our lunch and fed out of our hands.

Near the top - Ben Nevis.

Near the top – Ben Nevis.

Ben Nevis Climb
Or a walk in the mist and that’s what it was too. It’s not that far as the crow flies but by road it is 65 km and a one hour ten minute drive. Once the Wairoa Gorge road is left, the forestry is rougher in places, steeper but okay for two wheel drive vehicles but they do need some road clearance. From the small car park it takes about eight minutes walk to pass the top car park. From here the access is over private land for twenty minutes to reach the actual park boundary. A helicopter landing pad is nearby with some mountain bike tracks heading off in different directions. I think one would require plenty of nerves to ride these tracks by the look of the starting points.
Through native beech forest, passing a number of wind blown trees down along the way to reach a clearing after about 50 minutes. The track across the clearing heads up to an open rocky ridge named Gibbs Spur, with good views from both sides but not this day. We did get the odd break in the mist to look down on the upper Wairoa River Valley. After a break for morning tea we carried on the steady climb through the bush towards the summit.

Celmisia traversii.

Celmisia traversii.

It is a steady climb along the up and down ridge and then we came to the first of several fall downs. The wind must have been very strong to do so much damage as sometimes the fallen trees covered up to 200 hundred metres of the track. Finding a way around and getting back on the track took a little extra time and then making sure no one was missing before continuing. This mist wasn’t noticed much through the bush but once we reached the bushline and into the open alpine area, one could hardly see 50 metres ahead. Still, once up on the top and finding a sheltered place to have lunch, it was interesting to watch the mist swirl around. The summit is 1619 metres above sea level so a reasonable climb although a higher point of 1668m was further along the ridge in the mist.

A number of alpine plants were in flower: the usual mountain daisies, Epilobium sp. (willowherbs), orchids and one Chiloglottis cornuta in ‘flower’; and an old favourite – Wahlenbergia (harebells) with their pale blue flowers. The sun seems to fade the blue to a white and I guess the cloudy conditions helped the flowers to keep that delicate blue a little longer.

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