Lake Daniell

23-24 August 2020

With Covid Level 2 and advice not to go if feeling unwell, two prospective trip members responsibly pulled out in the last few days before the trip, including one who was to provide transport. As well I had trouble contacting one person who had put their name down late for the trip. Hence Friday night became a bit of a scramble to confirm who was on the trip and to rearrange transport and food.

Saturday morning six of us left Christchurch on a foggy day. Graeme picked up Wang, Mary and Diane from the west side of town and I picked up Haroon from the east. We met up in Woodend at 9.30am and were soon out of the murk into fine weather. After coffee at Culverden, we drove through to the Lake Daniell parking area where there were already a lot of parked vehicles. The general consensus was not to carry tents and that some people would be coming out and others doing a day walk.

We had lunch and then set off. I had forgotten how pleasant the walk into the hut is as I last did it many years ago. The bush is lovely and there is not too much up and down. The track is in very good condition and there were only a few muddy bits not far from the hut. After an hour or so, we stopped briefly down by the Alfred River. Not much further on the rain began, and it gradually got heavier so nobody was keen to stop again. We passed a number of people coming out from the walk into the hut and when we arrived we found that there were still plenty of beds.

We went in one bunkroom with a couple of CTC trampers who were on a private trip. There were also a family of five and a man with his young son staying that night. The new hut has a spacious area for removing gear, a large living area with solar lighting and two bunkrooms. The toilets, foot pump style, are just out the back door and across wooden decking with wash basins so are nice and close to the hut.

We got out of our wet gear and Haroon got a great fire going. The rain had stopped and after a hot drink all the group, apart from me, decided to see if they could get to the head of the lake. I was about to set off to join them, but they were already back saying that there wasn’t any track and that they hadn’t got very far.

Dinner was pasta and vegetables in a cheese sauce with a variety of accompaniments to sprinkle on top. Dessert was homemade fruit cake and custard. It was a pleasant evening and everyone in the hut got very excited with the light over the lake as it got darker. We all went outside onto the verandah and cameras and phones came out and some people took great photos.

We had a leisurely start in the morning. We walked back to the cars and then stopped at the top of Lewis Pass and went for a walk up the Sylvia tops track until we were out of the bush and able to enjoy great views while having lunch.

A very enjoyable weekend. We were Graeme Nicholas, Diane Goodman, Shiping Wang, Haroon Shaikh, Mary McKeown and Sue Piercey (leader). (SP)

The new Kohanga Atawhai Manson Nicholls Hut. Photo courtesy of Shiping Wang.

On the Lake Daniell track. Photo courtesy of Diane Goodman.