North Shore Tramping Club
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Report by Eric
Standing on the top of the perfect cone-shaped volcanic peak makes you quickly forget the efforts of getting out of bed before 5am and the 3 to 4 hour climb up from Tahurangi Lodge. OK, so I was out of bed before 5am to avoid incurring Arletta’s wrath, but all of us had that priceless wide-eyed look of achievement on our faces as we looked down the full 2,518 metres to the West Coast of Taranaki.
We had enjoyed a glorious sunrise before reaching the summit mid-morning. The day was near perfect - the sky above was a cloudless deep blue, with a gusty but quite light wind reminding us that this was alpine country.
Gazing east from the summit, the horizon was broken by the sharp point of Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Ruapehu’s jagged ridge line. To the north, we could see the shark-tooth shaped Paritutu Rock and the famous Power Station Chimney of New Plymouth.
Low scattered cloud was drifting in from the south and west, but you could still make out the coastline curving its way around to the grey green of the distant South Island.
Starting from Tahurangi Lodge saves almost 500 metres of elevation, but we still used up some serious calories getting up the last 1,000 metres. First, we negotiated the small rocky gully in the dark, then ascended the series of steep steps that steered us to the scree slope. A few hundred metres later we scrambled up onto ‘the Lizard’ (named as such because it looks like a lizard in autumn as the snow melts around it), an endless succession of rocks and boulders that lead us to the narrow ledge and down to a small gully covered in hard-packed snow. Then another 10-minute scramble to the summit.
All stages of the track are steep and equally, if not more, challenging on the way down especially for the tired and weary. A rescue operation was in full swing as we descended after someone had fallen going down the stairs.
However challenging, it has been a feat successfully accomplished by many and should be pursued by many others.
Many thanks to Arletta, Craig, Ilva, John L, Rose and Vlad – great to share your company, and to Kevin for organising the trip.
For many NSTC members, the Christmas tramp is the highlight of the year. Let me describe this for the benefit of newer members. The trip normally begins on 27 December and we return to Auckland on 4 January, give or take a day. The destination is a tramping area in the South Island; participants arrange their own travel to and from a nearby airport, e.g. for the Arthurs Pass trip we were advised to assemble in the arrivals area of Christchurch Airport by noon on the 27th. There are two or three out parties of 4 to 8 people each, who will be tramping for most or all of the following week. The Home party, about 12, is based at a motel or similar and carries out day walks, with perhaps an overnight excursion. The organiser hires vans to carry the Out parties from the airport to the beginning of their track, and the Home party to their motel. All out parties return to the motel on the second-to-last day and we enjoy a meal together in a restaurant before dispersing.
The first step is deciding on the area to visit. Perhaps a club member is keen to tramp in a particular area and is told that if he wants this place to be our Christmas destination, he should volunteer to organise the trip himself. The area should offer a variety of tracks including a long, challenging route for our fittest and boldest members. There should also be a suitable motel and a number of day walks for the Home party; if there is nothing suitable in the vicinity you might have to go further away. For example, two years ago the out parties were tramping on Stewart Island, the home party was based in the Catlins area on the mainland. By long tradition our Christmas tramps have been held in the South Island. From time to time, however, one hears suggestions that we should consider the central or lower North Island, eg Kaimanawas, Kaweka range, Tararuas, which are really too far away for long weekends and have been largely neglected by our club. Once the area has been chosen and a rough outline of the routes prepared, the organiser should submit the project to the Planning Committee for approval.
Next the organiser needs to identify and book accommodation. This should be done at an early stage – February or March is not too soon. The internet is probably the best place to start. It is not possible to know exactly how many rooms/beds we will need on each of the eight nights until bookings have been received; there will probably be one or two couples who are happy to share a double bed, some of the out parties might return to base for a day before going out again. It is best to explain the situation to the hotel manager and overbook, as it is easier to cancel bookings for one or two units than find more accommodation if we have under-estimated our requirements.
The organiser also needs to book the transport at an early stage. With 25 to 30 participants, we require three minivans each with a capacity for up to 12 passengers, to be collected and returned at the airport. It is club policy to take out zero excess insurance on them, even though this greatly increases the cost. Once suitable vehicles have been identified, it is essential to secure our booking by paying a deposit immediately. Even if the company does not ask for a deposit, the organiser should request an invoice, forward it to the Treasurer and personally check that a deposit has been paid; otherwise he may find, weeks or months later, that our booking has been cancelled and no more suitable vehicles are available. 12-seater minivans can be driven by anyone with a drivers licence for private cars, no passenger endorsement or heavy vehicle licence is required. Remember that the vehicles should be refueled before returning them; this could be paid for by the driver, the group leader or anyone else, but should be agreed in advance.
Once accommodation and minivans have been booked the organiser should draw up the budget and calculate cost per head. Accommodation is the main component of the final price and will naturally be higher for members of the home party. This should be submitted to the Treasurer for confirmation and approval.
At the same time, the organiser should be preparing a more detailed, day-to-day itinerary for the out parties. Finding sufficient information should not be a problem; DOC track notes are available on the internet, also articles from the back numbers of Wilderness magazine, other websites related to tramping and other club members, some of whom have tramped all over the country.
The organiser should then prepare a prospectus to be published on the club website (preferably in April or May). This would include the dates, an outline of the different routes proposed and the cost, and the date and time when bookings will open. This is normally at 9 am on a Saturday, a week or two after the trip has first been advertised. Our Christmas trips are deservedly popular and all places are usually booked within the first ten minutes.
Being amongst the first to make a booking does not guarantee you a place on the expedition of your choice, however. The organizer, club president, Health & Safety Officer and other senior members of the club will assess whether applicants have the required fitness and experience. After all, if you are three days into a tramp and it turns out that a member is unfit and cannot continue then this will spoil the trip for everyone. If nobody knows the person then he or she will probably be turned down. Therefore, if you would like to take part in the Christmas tramp, it is advisable to join as many as possible of the shorter trips held throughout the year, so that other club members will be able to assess your suitability for a longer tramp. Leaders for the different groups will be selected.
The organiser might then hold a meeting for all participants. In past years, people registered to take part in the Christmas tramp, but not for any particular out party or home party; the organiser then gave a briefing, explaining the different options, and people then signed up at the meeting. Even if participants now register for their preferred option, a meeting would still be worthwhile so that participants can see who else is going and ask questions. Party leaders would probably also hold a meeting for their own group.
Over the following months, it is likely that a few participants will withdraw for one reason or another, and will be replaced by those on the waitlist. The organiser must arrange for someone to collect the club’s personal locator beacons and ensure that at least one is distributed to each party, with a record made of which PLB goes to each group. (This record will be left with someone who is not taking part). All club members use camping gas stoves; as it is not permitted to carry gas canisters on an aircraft, we must arrange for someone to purchase the required number of canisters and bring them to the airport where we arrive (fortunately we have a couple of members who now live in the South Island). Our end-of-tramp feast will probably be held in a small country pub or restaurant with only one chef; it would make things much easier for the staff, and save our members a long, hungry wait, if we check the menu beforehand and notify the restaurant in advance of everyone’s main course choice.
Finally, on Christmas Eve the organiser must check the weather forecast for the area and, if necessary, modify the plan if bad weather is predicted. On the 2021 Christmas Tramp, for example, both the out parties had routes which required fording substantial rivers on the first two days; heavy rain was forecast and the routes were changed.
In conclusion, a successful and enjoyable tramp is the outcome of a good deal of organisation behind the scenes.
Five hopeful trekkers (plus the one behind the camera) at the beginning of their Christmas tramp (Richmond Range, 2020). Many hours of work have taken place to make this happen.
Report by Eric Skilling
When a white-haired, slightly ancient looking bloke with the muscled legs of a 30-year old mountaineer confidently rates an overnight tramp as a “walk-in-the-park” - be afraid!
When he adds “a little tester for those wanting to do an overnighter. Just a stroll in and out” - you need to be close enough to look under those bushy eyebrows and notice the twinkle in his eyes.
The real clue was when he announced he wasn’t coming along. We didn’t take note and instead headed into the woods next day and boy were we in for a surprise.
It started badly. Twice over. Firstly, we nearly missed the start.
Then, after the earlier advice of no river crossing, we were somewhat surprised to be heading up onto the narrow track with wet feet. ‘Nuff said!
We had decided to split into two parties of five. Beth, John, Karen and Vivienne took off like bank robbers. Peter was allocated to THAT group but clearly his conscience was clear because he soon joined the more sophisticated association of Grace, Ingrid, Joanne, Tanya and of course, yours truly.
The contrast to Bealey Spur walk the day before was stark. Gone was the wide, meandering, steadily rising path through spacious beech forest. Instead, we scrambled, clambered and scaled an endless series of head-high (and higher) rocky or muddy ledges, searching endlessly for hand and footholds.
Here on the northern side of Arthurs Pass the foliage was a dense mass of beech and gnarled podocarps with numerous other broadleaf shrubs. Certain members of our group didn’t find this much of a problem and had time to stop and take plenty of photos.
However, when someone asked what we would say to Roger next time we met him, someone was heard to say…. “There won’t be any talking. I am just going to wring his neck”.
As the trail began a traverse towards the top, we got our first views of the spectacularly steep and narrow Otira Gorge, and the Barron Range scarred by scree-slopes. The vegetation began to change to a mix of snow tussock and other alpine shrubs, the mist appeared and it got quite cold.
Carroll hut came into view, looking fragile and isolated in the expanse of the cirque. The ‘other group’ had already arrived at the hut and true to form, were happily ensconced in the hut having commandeered the best bunks.
The weather clagged in a bit, but it was a pleasure to spend the rest of the day in the cosy, spacious hut. Even the ‘other group’ turned out to be ok company.
Next morning, we took some time to explore the tarns and bogs off the track behind the hut. The variety of plants and flowers unique to these alpine environments are a must see.
Vivienne was in her element. The lady is a walking encyclopaedia of native plants, rattling off both common and Latin names as she searched the ground around her, oblivious to the mist and the cold. At one stage she muttered “This is better than sex” but it may have been “this is a brachyglottis”. Eventually we moved on. I don’t think Vivienne noticed us leave.
Meanwhile back in Nutsville, Grace was changing her clothes after …… wait for it…. having been for a swim in a tarn. Apparently, we don’t have to worry. No isolation necessary. This condition is not contagious.
Thanks to all (even Roger) for a memorable trip.
The Waharau Ridge Track (3.5 hours, 11km) in Waharau Regional Park has now been re-opened following extensive track upgrades to protect kauri. The park extends from the eastern side of the rugged Hunua Ranges, to the coast.
For more information see their Facebook page or Auckland council page for Waharau Regional Park
Kevin Osten - Club President
This year has been a real rollercoaster with tramping trips cancelled during our earlier lockdown in March then ramping up again with excellent turnouts before the latest Delta lockdown changed life on the 17th August.
Some memorable away trips between lockdowns with the Tararua trip bagging the long lost Angle ‘Knob Hut remnants, Gt Barrier Island and Tangihua were just some of the highlights.
After 107 days Aucklanders have done the hard yards and we can now enjoy those freedoms we took for granted. Our Xmas getaways are all go.
Our Trip Planning Group has done an amazing job adapting to the challenges this has presented and with the situation looking more promising for 2022 we will have some great tramps on the schedule for 2022!
A special thank you to our dedicated committee, all the drivers, trip leaders and helpers who have contributed to supporting the Club’s success.
Hope you enjoy a much-deserved break and are able to reconnect with friends and family. Let’s hope for more normality in 2022!
Merry Christmas and look forward to seeing on the tracks in 2022!
How to spot it
Myrtle rust looks like pustules of rust-coloured pollen. The disease is most commonly found on new growth, including young leaves, stems, buds and flowers. When the infected growth starts to die, the bright colour of the pustules fades. Once the new growth dies, the plant can look singed around the edges.
Other plant diseases can look a little like myrtle rust, so the best indicators are 1) the yellow pustules and 2) the host plant. Myrtle rust only infects plants from the Myrtaceae family.
How to report myrtle rust
To report a suspected case of myrtle rust, you can download the iNaturalist app onto your phone or make an account on a laptop or desktop. Then follow these steps:
It is very helpful for researchers to know what you think the host plant is. If you’d like to make a guess, please add this to the “Notes” section.
If you’d like to learn more about myrtle rust research, you can follow Beyond Myrtle Rust on Facebook, Twitter @byondMyrtleRust and Instagram @beyond_myrtle_rust.
The NZ Rescue Coordination Center (RCC) has upgraded its locator beacon registration database this year, and is inviting all owners of a PLB registered before 25 February 2021 to check and update their details.
Your previous registration information is still held on file in the event of an activation, but owners moving to the new system will be able to amend the registration details themselves (In the past, you had to email changes through, which had to be manually entered by RCC staff).
New Zealand is moving to a new COVID-19 Protection Framework or traffic light system which is replacing the previous system of Alert Levels 1-4.
As part of this, DOC has decided that from 15 December 2021, eligible people, aged over 12 years and 3 months must be fully vaccinated to stay in DOC accommodation – this includes:
All DOC campgrounds and huts will only be open to those who are fully vaccinated. Hut wardens and camp hosts on site and will be checking for vaccination status. When requested you, and eligible members in your party, must show your COVID-19 vaccine verification.
This measure has been put in place after assessing the risk of infection from COVID-19 to visitors, staff, volunteers and contractors and at DOC’s visitor facilities.
All customers, including all members of the group aged over 12 years and 3 months, must be fully vaccinated prior to using DOC accommodation or the booking will need to be modified to a time when they are fully vaccinated, or the booking will need to be cancelled. This will apply to bookings from 15 December 2021.
DOC will provide a full refund for COVID-19-related cancellations including if people are unwell, subject to travel restrictions, concerned about COVID risks or are not vaccinated.
On Wednesday 1st December we were lucky enough to have Annalily van den Broeke, outreach coordinator for Ark in the Park (www.arkinthepark.org.nz) give an interesting virtual presentation. This was on the how and why of predator control in the 2270 hectares of the Waitakere Ranges that the volunteers of Ark in the Park look after. If you’re interested to learn more, or would like to help as a trapper or ‘adopt’ a bait line as an individual or as a group (similar to other tramping clubs) rebaiting three times a year, contact her on email@example.com . She is also the project manager of the neighbouring wetland conservation project Matuku Link (www.matukulink.org.nz) in Bethells, which has planting and working bee opportunities for fully vaccinated people as well – firstname.lastname@example.org . Or follow them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ArkInTheParkNewZealand/ and www.facebook.com/matukulink