Glenlock Winter Basecamp

 Greta Valley Explorer 28-29 June 2014

 We lived up to the social, tramping and explorer aspects of this trip admirably. Only one of the pre-planned options came off as true (the beach walk). Even the winter aspect didn’t quite live up to winter - with glorious weather for both days.

 12 of us met at the Greta / Scargill turn off after a leisurely departure from Chch and stocking up with supplies at the Amberley Farmers market. From there we headed in convoy to Foxdown Rd off the Waikari/ Scargill inland road to begin our trek up Mt Alexander (748m). The route being a steady (but not steep) incline up farm tracks which had been clearly mapped out for us by the land owner. 

 It was encouraging to find landowners who are happy to have trampers on their land to enjoy the magnificent views around. In this case all he asked for was a koha donation to go to local charities.A brisk cool breeze saw us seek the shelter of the stone stockyards for an early morning tea.

   Whilst thoroughly enjoying the views of the beautifully groomed fields and the distant vistas that opened up as we gained height. On the top and wow! Wonderful views across to Waikari, the Hurunui river and Balmoral forest with only a few snowy peaks appearing in the distance. Real winter had yet to arrive. Our route back took us in a loop seeing different aspects of the farm and views and magnificent lighting effects as the sun got lower. A really great day out.

 Back to Glenlock for a “cuppa and a wee lie down” before nibbles and aperitifs. Lovely to come back to the luxury of the smell of the crock pot bubbling away, a lounge and comfy seating and especially a ”vibrating massage chair”. The facial expressions, oohs and aahs and squeals as the rollers hit sore spots were a great source of amusement for those still awaiting their turn. Several folk sneaked around for a second and third try. An acquisition highly recommended for all tramping huts (though power supplies might be a problem).

 Lighting problems for the outdoor BBQ resolved (there was a cook and a lamp holder) and we were more than well fed with amazing food from shared pot luck. The calm evening allowed us to light the burn pile (brush saved up from many tree falls this summer) so those with pyromaniac tendencies could throw branches on the bonfire to their hearts content. Only a few found room for bonfire toasted marshmallows after such a feast, while others just enjoyed sitting by the fire watching the stars. Bedding arrangements were sorted out by some creative furniture relocation, 4 scored a bedroom, 2 in the campervan and the rest on the lounge floor.

 Sunday dawned clear skied, and Chef Tere delighted us with a cooked breakfast of bacon and eggs, washed down with coffee and hot honey, cinnamon drink. Two of the party headed homeward while the rest of us headed towards Motunau. At Caringa farm gate we headed across farm land, crossed the creek (some with wet feet and some by creative tree scrambling) and up to the predominant limestone ridge to the left. Here we explored the tomos, and amazing limestone bluffs with trees hanging on in precarious positions , and were very surprised to see kowhai trees in flower (didn’t they know its winter? ) Our climb rewarded us with magnificent views across Pegasus Bay it’s no wonder Captain Cook mistook Banks Peninsular for an island ) and northwards towards Nape Nape, as well as inland towards yesterday’s vistas Thank you once again to the Caringa land owner for granting us access to his land. It was greatly appreciated. 3 hours saw us back at the cars and down to Motunau beach / river mouth for lunch.

 Then came the third phase of our “tramping” options. A 2 hour walk southwards along the coast from Sandy Bay, easy walking enabled by the low tide. Beautiful beach sand interspersed by rock exploration … have you ever seen such a variety of holey rocks? Evidence was everywhere of the recent stormy seas and wet weather with massive piles of driftwood pushed high against the cliffs and huge slips of of mud/ clay off the cliffs. Clear evidence that the east coast of NZ is receding! We turned around with the incoming tide before reaching the main concretion boulders but we had to save something up for another day. This was a most enjoyable finale to jolly good weekend of fine walking and fine company. Thank you one and all and and to Lex for opening his home to HTC trampers while he “golfed and built the shed”. Glenda

 Participants were: Glenda, Bill, Wendy, Tere, Kathy, Claire, Sergey, Carol, Dianna, Dennis, Heather, Kevin

 A BIG THANKS! From all of us Glenda, a really most enjoyable weekend.