The Nina and the Doubtful for Easter 2011 (M)
21st April 2011
This trip was an opportunity to explore the Lewis Pass part of Lake Sumner Forest Park. Because of heavy bookings, we travelled across Cook Strait on a full Kaitaki sailing on the Thursday morning. It had the advantage of driving through the pleasant Wairau, Buller and Maruia Valleys on a fine day, and a stop at Lake Rotoiti.
We tried the Maruia Hot Springs, now under new ownership and charging $19 each for a swim! Still it was very nice for some. Using my connections with deerstalkers, we stayed the night at the North Canterbury Deerstalkers lodge on the Lewis Pass road near the swing bridge to the Nina Valley. Vandalism is an ongoing problem, and it took three keys, plus removing some deadlocks to get us in. They have electric light via photoelectric cells, and gas cooking.
Susan and I shuttled the cars to Boyle Lodge next morning, to avoid vandalism. It took over three hours to walk in to Nina Hut, a large 10-bunk hut that replaced the eight-bunk NZ Forest Service hut on the other side of the river. A volunteer group has placed stoat traps along all the tracks in the Valley, in an endeavour to get greater numbers of bellbird and other birds. There were still not as many bellbirds, though, than before 1985, when common wasps first invaded the South Island.
We lunched at the hut, and left at 1 pm for a day trip up-valley to Nina Biv. We saved some time by cutting across to the river (there is no bridge) and easily crossed on a wide gravel stretch of the river. It was also more interesting.
We easily followed the track up the true left, though it was swampy in places. It also drops steeply to the main branch near the top. A big slip sidle up and down the bank seemed mainly for wet weather, and we avoided it on the way back. The upper valley is more open, and hence more attractive. We did not have time to find the Biv.
Back at the hut we prepared dinners, and two others arrived who tented out. Easter being so late this year, there was less daylight for tramping. The next day it rained, and more people arrived, with seventeen at the hut. In the afternoon, for exercise, we went to look at the start of the track over Devilskin Pass.
On Sunday, the weather, though drizzly, was good enough to go over the Pass. It is steep going up in places. The old biv at the bushline has been removed, but there is still a good campsite there. There is now a 2-person biv just above the Pass, where we stopped for lunch.
Going down to the Doubtful was a surprise. The track now sidles high for two hours before snaking down to a good ford on the Doubtful just above Doubtful Hut. However it now takes 4 hours to get down on the true left of Devilskin Stream; before, the route was more direct and took 2-3 hours. We camped under a stand of old beech trees, and an owl said hello to us about dusk. The ďhutĒ once was a mustererís hut, very small and decrepit, with two bunks. Tenting was more comfortable though more windy.
Next day, ANZAC Day, we went for a day trip to Doubtless Hut (6-bunk) with the hope of reaching Amuri Pass (983 m) to the Waiheke Valley, an old gold-minerís trail. Again it drizzled, this time from the East. No-one wanted to go up to Lake Man, so we had a pleasant meander up the valley through the beech forest, chatting. We crossed the river to the Doubtless Valley, and had lunch at the pleasant Doubtless Hut. Jo, Susan, Peter and I then headed upstream, towards the Pass. But time ran out, and the mist came down.
We all then retraced our steps back to the hut. The wind was stronger, and the smoke was now blowing through the hut, not up the chimney. Iím not sure how we cooked the meal in there with the smoke getting in our eyes, but managed it somehow. It was much colder as well, so we retired to the tents early.
Next morning was the day for getting out to the highway, and back to Picton. We were up before seven in the cold, and saw the new snow two hundred metres above us on the trees, and managed to get away by 8.20a.m. It is easy going down the valley, which is grassy and open. But it still took two hours to get to the Boyle River, going fast. We crossed the Doubtful and went up the true right of the Boyle, using an easy, wide crossing place, after some debate. It then started to rain, and we walked to Boyle Lodge and the cars.
It had taken longer than we had hoped, so we missed the expensive swim at Maruia Springs, that some people had set their hearts on. Once over the Lewis Pass the sun came out and it was a beautiful fine warm autumn day, not like back in North Canterbury, with the rain, and snow on the tops. Back to Picton, and an easterly swell in Cook Strait made the Arahura wobble and shudder. But we were only 15 minutes late. A satisfying, if damp trip. HB
- Party members
- Hugh Barr (leader and scribe)., David Castle, Keegan Durrant, Susan Guscott, Sheelagh Leary, Christine Leighs,
Jo Poole, Peter Shanahan, Cathy Wylie.