Recent Trip Reports
Here are more samples of trip reports reflecting the types of adventures we have.
Te Aroha Weekend
Te Aroha is a great destination for a weekend away and it proved a popular idea with 16 signing up, tempted by the prospect of soaking in hot pools after a day in the bush. We had sole use of the little YHA hostel at Te Aroha, with the overflow staying at a nearby motel and motor camp. No car shuttle is required when staying at the YHA for the Mt Te Aroha circuit walk as it can be started and completed right from the hostel. However, within only a metres from the hostel we had managed to get ourselves geographically challenged among the maze of mountain bike tracks. With the lead almost caught up with the tail on a circular track, we could have walked in circles all day! The 952m climb to the top of Mt Te Aroha is a challenge, but not a difficult climb, but an extra serving of porridge certainly helped. For over 200 days a year the top is shrouded with fog – and today was one of those days. So despite our efforts no view was possible until we descended on the Tui Domain Track where sweeping views out over the Hauraki Plains can be had. The scars on the landscape from previous mining in the area is a reminder of why we do not want mining in our national parks. Back in town, we relished in the pleasure of soaking in the hot pools at Te Aroha Domain before dinner at the Te Aroha Club. There was still energy for a spot of dancing to the music from a rather dodgy duke box, but Wendy seemed to know exactly where to thump the side to get the next song to play (signed of a misspent youth). A leisurely start on Sunday was enjoyed before a few hours exploring the Wairongomai Valley and climbing the formidable “Butlers Incline” I am unsure of why it is called an incline as it is more like a flippin ladder. Very steep but all made it to the top including Brian Kettle. Let’s hope his heart surgeon doesn’t read our magazine – I doubt that is considered “light duties”. On our return some stopped to visit the quirky Ngatea Water Gardens and Arthur’s Canny Museum. The owners sense of humour is displayed everywhere. I do recommend one follows the instructions of the door bell that says “do not press” be obeyed or you could end up with a nasty surprise (as I did). The canny museum has over 11,000 beer, soft drink and unusual cans from all over the world on display in a purpose built room. Former club member and ex president Sue Berry joined us from her Tauranga base. It was great to catch up with her as she is always great company.[/learn_more]
Example of an away (luxury!) South Island trip
I have just read an account of guided rafting on the Landsborough River in which 80% of the article is a rapturous account of the food and wine with a few comments on the river and scenery added as almost a postscript. It would be very easy to do this for our trip but it would do our journey a great injustice.
Ben Judge of Clarence River Rafting collected us from Christchurch Airport and we headed north to Hanmer with a judiciously selected cafe stop en route. It was a joy to catch up with Ray and Carroll Twist that evening before another trundle in a bus the next morning over Jacks Pass into the Molesworth. In bright sunshine our rafts were launched at the confluence with the Acheron and we met the crew – Bridget, Ben’s fellow business owner and a wondrous source of interesting information about the history, geology and flora, plus the younger members Callum, Steve and Amanda. We had three rafts – the “paddle boat” in which usually 6 of us paddled under instruction of one of our leaders, a raft with a crewman on highly efficient oars with two “passengers” who rowed only occasionally and a cargo raft with a guide on the oars and another body riding “mermaid” atop the bundles. As the trip progressed Mark and Peter took turns at demonstrating their prowess in this position barely inconvenienced by the need for any activity other than hanging on. A stalwart of the “paddle boat” Brian took some time to perfect the toe cling technique and on his second attempt managed to bounce from the raft into the drink.
The trip on the river is 180km long which we accomplished in five days. Mostly the river carried us along gently assisted by bursts of paddling allowing time to enjoy the landscape. Most spectacular were the gorges with twisted rock strata adorned by budding Marlborough rock daisies and lilac hulkeana. In open areas we passed historic stations with snow splashed peaks rising behind, the highest of which was Tapuae-o-uenuku. Later in the trip native regeneration dominated and on one occasion we walked through a superb stand of mixed podocarp forest.
River levels were lowish so much effort was expended negotiating the shallows often necessitating our guides (and sometimes us) to dismount and walk our craft. Once or twice impeding stones were manhandled out of the way but alas a raft was punctured on the first day requiring continual TLC thereafter. The rapids are grade 1 and 2 and despite intimidating names like “Jaw Breaker” and “Nosebasher” they did not prove too alarming even to a confirmed aquaphobe like me. The most dramatic “The Chute” swung us between a succession of large boulders on the first day and on our last stretch before the sea the river steepened, treating us to a long finale of splashy ups and downs.
Geological curiosities added novelty to our adventure. We stopped at the aptly coined “Jewellery Shop” where large clear and coloured crystals sparkled on the beach and at one of our campsites Shirley made friends with a 40 million years old concretion. After a game of boules/bowls it was added to her luggage.
The weather played its part with three sunny days and only a little rain one night. That chilly evening we learned that a shovelful of hot coals placed strategically under a camp chair provides sublime heat to the nether regions.
Most marvellous treats baked by Bridget kept up our energy levels – cathedral window cake, rich fruit cake and museli slice, and at lunch time a smorgasbord of delectable titbits were presented with varying bread options. After pitching our spacious tents we settled into our camp chairs with glasses of wine nibbling goodies while the crew prepared superb meals featuring paua, crayfish, fish chowder, salmon, Jamie Oliver risotto, steak, friands, tiramisu and spiced pears. Breakfasts were also varied and spectacular – sausage and bacon enchiladas, garlic poached eggs with yoghurt and a hearty quinoa porridge. At times a Dutch oven baked a joint of beef and bread for lunches.
Needless to say the Clarence River Rafting folk worked tirelessly to make our experience so memorable – so many thanks from Susan and Brian, Denise and Mark, Shirley, Jill E, and Peter and Christine.
Example of a social event
Christmas Picnic December
No amount of rain was going to deter 43 big and little kids from enjoying their Christmas picnic and a chance of a ride on a steam train. With constant rain all day, we were thankful we had changed venue from our original idea of Motuhe Island to something that offered at least some shelter. Even though Glenbrook Vintage Rail has been operating for many years by a bunch of enthusiastic volunteers, many (including myself) had never been there before. With great excitement and a buff of steam, a blast of soot and a farewell whistle we were off. I’m sure I could hear a little voice saying “left front wheel, left front wheel”, but nobody would believe me. At Waiuku we visited a brilliant Christmas display at the town hall. At $2 this would have to be the best value entertainment around. A truly amazing display that started 13 years ago as a shop window display and has now almost outgrown the local town hall. It just gets bigger and better each year. While some admired local arts and crafts for sale in the towns historic village others got more into the spirit (and beer) of things at the Kentish Pub, who’s claim to fame is being the first licensed pub in NZ (1853). Back on broad, we were joined by Santa and his helpers. This year we had the real Santa joined us – not some skinny impostor that turned up a couple of years ago. A ten minute stop at the service yard was a visit to the ultimate man’s cave, something not so enthusiastically embraced by some of the women folk. Back at Glenbrook station our lunch monitors dutifully tended to the BBQ so we could all enjoy a wonderful assortment of shared dishes and a bit of Christmas cheer. Jigger rides proved great fun and helped the lunch go down. All in all, a very successful day. Thanks for all who came.