Easter Lodge Trip to Lewis Pass
Thursday 28 March, 5.15ish, saw our happily expectant team of 26 shuffling up the ramp onto the Interisland ferry along with the seasonal throng. From Picton our 3 designated, untiring drivers Bob, Janet and Wayne took us up the Wairau Valley, through Murchison and Springs Junction to the Boyle River Lodge in Lewis Pass where we speedily went to bye byes at about 2.30am.
Friday, over breakfast, our walking options were discussed and the Nina Valley was decided on, with some taking an easy version up Lucretia Stream and others an easy/medium in to Nina Hut. The need to refuel our 3 vans took us, later that afternoon, into Hanmer Springs, so what else could we do in that pre-dinner hour but give in to a soak in the thermal baths.
We knew it was forecast, so there really wasn’t any surprise when we awoke on Saturday morning to pouring rain. A group of 4-Sid, Rosemary Wilson, Deborah and Wayne set off for Lake Christabel for a 2 day tramp while others broke into small groups and explored the St James walkway, one end of which starts just behind the Boyle Lodge. Another late afternoon was spent in thermal baths; this time it was Maruia Springs, which boasts a cosy café which also just happens to dispense alcoholic beverages. The night got colder and we thought of our compatriots at Lake Christabel.
Sunday dawned overcast but clear enough to see the tops which were liberally coated with snow. The sun came out as we set off for Lake Daniels (the entrance to which is just opposite the Lewis Pass Motel), a beautiful walk beneath glistening beech forest with a healthy undergrowth of puka, puta puta weta, lancewoods, mosses and much more. The sandflies were numerous and vigorous at the hut where we paused for lunch. Without them this would be a most idyllic spot.
Back ‘home’, at the lodge, we greeted our 4 ‘Christabellians’ who told us tales of a golden eel, and a cold night out in a magical camping spot. Janet and Patrick, our generous Easter bunnies, had us munching chocolate as we dined on our Last Supper and gave cheers to our leader Bob and assistant Jenny.
A clean up of the Lodge and a 10.30am departure on the Monday and we were off back to Hanmer. Some elected to climb to the top of Mt Isabel which was coated in snow and afforded good views both of Hanmer village and the surrounding countryside, while others took advantage of another dip in the thermals. Following this we all headed back to Picton via the now completely tarsealed inland Kaikoura route and a compulsory stop at the inviting café at Kekerengu, where we were impressed by the sea views of the rip roaring southerly. Late afternoon saw us at the ferry terminal, and news of ferry cancellations. Along with a couple of thousand others we made alternative plans in a hurry because accommodation in Picton was not an option that night so we booked into the very comfortable Blenheim Bridge Motel and spread out over several Blenheim eating establishments. We can now make some authoritative recommendations.
Tuesday midmorning we were back at the terminal to hear of continuing cancellations, so decisions were made to enjoy the day anyway. A large group set off to walk The Snout, that long neck of land that juts out seaward between Picton and Waikawa, and the rest just blobbed out in the very warm waterfront sunshine. Four Blenheim vineyards took the attention of many of us that afternoon; what better way to spend a stolen extra day from the office!
It was a tired (but satisfied) group that gathered around the baggage turntable to claim our packs at 2.30am-and finally shuttle our way back to our various suburban beds.