Recent Wanderings

Rabbit Island, Motueka and Lake Rotoiti Walks
Mid January we lead our walking group towards the Eastern end of Rabbit Island on a cloudy coolish day. Along the beach to the end of the island for morning tea, then around into the inlet a little before finding one of the traplines, following it along for away and then back along to beach to home. Then we had a walk around the reserves of Motueka, noting that the wreck of the Janie Seddon seems to be rusty away faster now. Another week we walked to the head of Lake Rotoiti on a lovely day. It’s funny this walk as although it’s the same distance either way, it always seems to be a lot longer coming back? 

The Janie Seddon.

Up Will’s Gully
We have had trouble with a person pulling out some of our plants, having lost around 15 to 20 natives. Some we found later and replanted only to have them pulled out and thrown aside. We had a pretty good idea who the culprit was but thought the best to do, was to go to the press and tell our story, which we did. Since the article appeared in the local Nelson Mail, we have been left alone – so far. Green fingers crossed! 

Kevin at work clearing weeds on the track.

Normally at this time of the year, we are keeping the long grass down around our young plants but due to the very hot spell, we had to keep away due to the fire risk. Naturally the grass kept growing! But we have been back, clearing the foot track and doing work on some of the steps. The recent cyclone didn’t do too much damage with the trees that did topple, we were able to clear them from the tracks fairly quickly.  With the recent heavy rain quite a number of fungus sprouted with the Orange Pore fungi being the most colourful. A relative stranger to our shores and it probably drifted over from Australia. 
Top Valley Walk and the Wellington Battery 
Gold, Gold, Gold. They came for gold and in 1880 one man found seven ounces in two weeks. Soon after in another side valley, a party gathered 14 ozs in a morning and a little later a 1¼ oz gold nugget was found. It was certainly enough gold found to cause some excitement. 

Top Valley, along with it’s side streams, is one of the streams that flow into the Wairau River, near Blenheim, Marlborough. Anyway, the gold is now probably buried somewhere else but besides  all the missing gold, Top Valley Stream and nearby have some interesting features, Staircase Stream, Boundary Creek, The Forks, Junction Spur, Sinkto Rise, Whitehead Clearing and Jubilee Mine, which was named after Queen Victoria, in celebrating her 60 years on the throne in 1897.

The Wellington Battery Remains.

To get there we travelled along the Northbank Road and passed row after rows of grapevines. The stoney shingle river flats and sunshine must be the right mix for winemaking. Pine plantations covered the lower slopes and along the forestry road we came to a ford – a stream crossing. With the recent rain it was running higher than normal so we stopped for an inspection. We cleared away some rocks to release and lower the water level and all crossed okay. Further on we stopped and walked to the remains of the Wellington mine battery.  The mine itself was further back in the bush and the native bush surrounded the rusting remains of what’s left of the battery. 

Back to the cars for lunch and then a pleasant walk through native bush to Whiteheads Clearing. Apparently there was a hut here but the only reminders were some rusting pieces of tin. These remains were four gallon petrol tins, cut open and flattened out into rectangles and then tacked onto the walls of the hut. Overlapping a little, like tiles or shingles and a nice water proof wall and roof too the result. A walk back to the cars and driving out to the ford again we found that the water level had dropped quite a lot. 

My little Hyundai creek crossing.

Mountain Memories
I have been typing up some of the notes that I took on various outdoor trips over the years and mentioned this to my friend Stratt Colbert. I’ve had the pleasure of his company on a number of  mountain wanderings that we had done in the past and he sent this email in reply: 
“Hi Will,  Good to hear from you and what you are doing in your “spare” time. Will’s Gully must take up a lot of it and a lot of energy.
I remember Allan Hart and our walk up to Karamea Bend [Kahurangi National Park]. Loved being in the tops with all the grasses blowing in the wind quite magical with all their patterns. The walk that started things with us was up the Waihaha River [Pureora Forest Park] with the survival course group that you ran,  in the rain and then later you and I went back for another walk in the area. I also remember our helicopter ride into the Kaweka Forest Park but can’t recall the name of the other bloke on the trip. [It was John Keoghan who went on one of the hunter training courses that I ran, is now a policeman and still keen on hunting]

Hut remains at Whitehead Clearing.

One thing that has stayed with me on that trip is these hunters coming into the hut with a dog which promptly started sniffing round our food supply. You asked them nicely to put the dog outside. Their response was that the dog stays.  Now you had been sitting quietly feeding the chipheater but at their response you very slowly stood up and said “ Well I’m a Doc Ranger and I will overlook that you have not paid any hut fees but the dog goes” and the dog went and they were very quiet after that.

Yes, I remember our Kaimai ridge walk [Kaimai – Mamaku Forest Park] and especially leaving that little hut we stayed in, coming round a bend to find a hunter aiming his rifle at us!!!! Bit scary. You went up to him and had a “chat”.

Then there was the little walk we had to the top of Mt Te Aroha. OK going up but a bit harder on the knees coming down.

A ‘soft’ waterfall on the Forks Walk.

Memories are good to have and even better to have them typed up in book form. Your family records has been a lot of work for quite a while – must be very satisfying to have them finished.
I have note books of all the touring Marie and I did on our bikes and what you are doing inspires me to “do something” with them.”
Thanks Stratt, and I had forgotten those ‘incidents’ but recall them now. 
The Wild Natural Places
Awhile ago I received an email from Val asking if I would mind if she could have the verse of my little poem that I have on my home webpage read out at her funeral.  For many years Val organised the local rat trapping around St Arnaud, Lake Rotoiti. From arranging transport for the trappers from Richmond and Nelson areas, to St Arnaud and liaising with DOC.  She enjoyed the wild places and the little verse must have brought back pleasant memories.  The next time I’m out in the mountains Val, just on dusk and in my camp, I’ll give you a toast by my campfire. Join me in your memory.

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