Hope Kiwi - Lake Sumner

16-17 May 2015

Eight keen trampers headed off to Windy Point near Lewis Pass, undeterred by the previous day’s torrential rain, floods in Kapiti, and tornadoes in Mt Manganui. We actually ended up really lucky with the weather, even though showers were forecast. We left windy point at 9.45am on the Saturday morning.

We headed up the Hope River valley, towards Hope-Kiwi Hut, with a sprinkling of snow on the mountains and a lot of water in the river. The track was pretty good, with the usual roots, rocks and patches of mud—nothing out of the ordinary. However at the start, the local farm track, is now fenced off and a new track is formed. Graeme thought he was back at work as a prison guard, as we clambered through an unlocked fence doorway. Our track wasn’t as cattle-trodden anyway.

There were two swing bridges where tail-enders could catch up with the rest, due to the one person at a time ruling. Mind you, later on, next to the tarns and swampy bits, there were a few swamp crossing platforms that were more deserving. One twisted up one, represented the Canterbury earthquakes.

The air temperature was quite cold, but comfortable while we were walking. Near the middle hut we all got soaked up to our “sensitive bits”, as Pat put it—quite a flooded miniature lake. By this time the sole of Brennan’s boot which was just clinging on, flopped loose. Luckily he had his faithful Warehouse “crocs” as back up and not jandals. They gave excellent drainage and survived the rest of the trip.

When we got to Hope halfway hut for lunch the steam was pouring off Gavin’s blue thermal shirt! We knew hunters were staying overnight there as there were the traditional spaghetti tins on the bench, and rolls of dog food. Later we saw a lot of evidence of pig rooting, so hoped they caught some. Pat and Kerry had plucked some yummy watercress from the stream to add to their “cordon Bleu” lunches. And Jane was in heaven with her dinner left-overs.

Our hut took another 2 hours to arrive. On the way a high-light for me was the swing-bridge over a gorgy section of the Hope River—the water was a beautiful turquoise colour. The whole journey from Windy Point took 5½ hr.

It was a beautiful sight to see the hut nestled in the grassy flats between high hills. Hope-Kiwi Lodge has 23 bunks, and is very roomy. Thanks to Chris Moore’s talent for chopping wood with a blunt axe, and Pat’s excellent fire-lighting skills, we had an awesome fire to warm up the living area. The warmth was so inviting that a couple of people transferred out there in the middle of the night—Gavin, Chris and Brennan. They claimed it was to avoid the beautiful harmony of the snorers. We were also very lucky with Kerry’s culinary skills. His lentil curry tasted better than the dahl from Indian restaurants, and it even included some fresh mushrooms picked that day! The custard, sago, gingernut desert was also divine, so thank you Kerry.

After some serious debate in the evening on the feasibility of some going out via Lake Sumner we settled on a 50/50 split. In the morning four headed back to the cars and the lucky group, Gavin, Chris, Pat and I headed off through fog and mist towards Lake Sumner and across the swampy flats up to Kiwi Saddle—the smallest saddle in history. The fog and mist gave an eerie impression as we passed tarns, swamps and listened to the birdsong again. Lake Marion, was very hard to see, as it was covered in mist. Then we headed, down, down, down to Lake Sumner. What a beautiful sight, as we sat beside it and admired the view. Still covered in mist, but we hoped by the afternoon we would see some mountain views.

It was a very eventful clamber along the side of Lake Sumner. There were quite a few wind-fallen trees that were easier to avoid by wading into the lake, mid-thigh deep. Sometimes the lake sloped steeply and with slippery gravel, so at one point Pat had a good slip into the lake, lucky her camera didn’t join her. I had a good face-plant into the gravel, but it was a fun adventure. The rocks were jagged and kept us on the ball. In places the track left the lake and we climbed up over very slippery black fungus-covered logs. Pat was ahead of us and unbeknown to her, disturbed a wasp nest. Chris and I coming up behind, had to do a bigger, steeper detour, to avoid angry wasps. We imagined chaos if they found our scent and started attacking!

As the day progressed, the mists did slowly rise and we saw stunning views of the peaks around Lake Sumner. It was just beautiful so we made the most of our lunch spot near the lake outlet to have a cappuccino or coffee, kindly brewed by Chris. He wanted his new member form signed this weekend and with his excellent skills, looking after the girls, as tail-end charlie, and organising a boil up, he is very welcome to join our club!!

From there it was meant to be about 2½ hr to the road. We passed the cute little historic Gabriel Hut and headed off through the last bit of forest toward the Hurunui River flats. It’s so weird how the cows always stared at us when we passed as if we are aliens! Gavin was ahead, looking forward to meeting Graeme who had kindly volunteered to drive in with his 4WD to pick us up. There was a little hitch—the Sisters Carpark isn’t clearly labelled and as Gavin arrived he saw the 4WD pass by on its way to Lake Taylor. Oh dear! One carload sitting at Waikari, one car at Lake Taylor and tired hungry trampers in the middle! But, Gavin to the rescue. He flagged down a passing motorcyclist and asked him to turn around in the opposite direction and chase Graeme to tell him where we were.

It all worked out in the end. All eight met in Waikari and drove home safely. I would like to thank Gavin, who led ably from the front and Chris who led ably from the rear, and to Kerry for leading an awesome trip with his great, kind, quiet, knowledgeable leadership style. Thanks everyone for the fun and laughs too. We were: Kerry Moore, Gavin Clark, Pat McIntosh, Jane Smith, Graeme Hunter, Brennan Edwards, Chris Moore and Gayle O’Halloran. (GO)