How not to go tramping

Date: 20th June 2015
Tramps: Andrew Seward, Tania Seward, Glen Baxter
Words: Andrew Seward
Photos: there aren’t any. Read on and you’ll see why.

Weekends are a precious commodity. Between full time work and study, there aren’t many free. With this in mind, we decided to make the most of it. Ball Pass, near Mt Cook was the plan. As the date approached the 10 day forecast wasn’t looking fantastic with storms, snow and sleet predicted. The tramping guru Geoff Spearpoint suggested we find a nice hut with a fire not too far from the road. He even suggested a few places. We decided to continue with our plan. Geoff is probably mellowing with age, we’ll be right, we are definitely going tramping.

Monday night and the forecast was getting worse. A planning meeting was held while munching on roast chicken. Reluctantly we abandoned Ball Pass and settled on climbing Mt Fox on the West Coast, leaving Thursday night. We are definitely going tramping.

Wednesday night approached, with storms, sleet and snow forecast for Thursday. We decided to leave on Friday instead. A wise decision we thought, with all the South Island passes closed. Even mountain climbing, Godzone conquering “nothing will stop me” Alastair McDowell was stuck in Twizel.

Thursday night came around and Huey was still not done hammering the country. A hasty planning meeting was convened at Soyo, where we took advantage of the “all you can eat for $7” deal. Plans were made to go to Tarn Hut in the Lees Valley, leaving Saturday morning. We are definitely going tramping.

Saturday. This is the day. We are going tramping. First a quick half hour stop at Coffee Worx in Rangiora. The morning can’t progress without coffee apparently. Addiction is a terrible affliction. We continued through Oxford with a quick stop at the Supervalue for chocolate and to throw snow balls at Tania. A small tiki tour took us down a snow covered gravel road and on to Lees Valley Road… which was closed. Hmm. I guess we are not tramping there. Never mind we can head north and go to Cannibal Gorge Hut at Lewis Pass. We might even catch Kate and friends who were heading further up the track to Ada Pass Hut. We are still going tramping.

It was after midday when we got to the Cannibal Gorge car park. We discussed the merits of tramping while slowly munching our way through the biersticks brought for dinner. Enthusiasm waning we decided to walk the two kilometres to Cannibal Gorge to stretch the legs. The gorge river was running high and fast as determined by a game of Pooh Sticks from the swing bridge. The Pooh Sticks vanished, Pooh Log was swept rapidly downstream and Pooh Rock sank with a good splash.

Needing something to do after walking four whole kilometres, we decided to drive further west to look at a geological site Glen remembered from a uni field trip. After the customary “it’s just down the road, not much further, we’re really close now, I know it’s here, where is it?” anxiety we found it at the Lake Daniells car park. ‘It’ is a low concrete wall built across the fault line where the Pacific and Australian plates meet to show any ground movement. Geology lesson over we jumped back into the 4WD and proceeded to run over the fault. Fortunately it didn’t go off.

It’s still only 3pm and the day is young – what else could we do? At Springs Junction we found some 3G coverage and assessed the options. Hot pools sounds like a good idea – surely there are some around here somewhere. We asked Google, with less than ideal results. Maruia Springs closed due to the storm. Amethyst Springs near Harihari too far. Sylvia Flat near Nina Hut is buried under a landslide. With much deliberating, we settled on going back to Hanmer and its commercial hot pools.

After spending three hours slowly cooking the flesh off our bones, we decided it was time to head home. We arrived home 14 hours after we set out, not having tramped much – but a fantastic day out nonetheless.

All up, 550 kilometres driven and 1.25 tanks of gas consumed in a 14 hour period. We’ll be planting a tree or three to offset the carbon.


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