Club trip reports suggest that this tramp was last done in 2006. So the trip was offered as an easier day walk to offset the cancelled Mt Stokes tramp (road closed) and the Mt Owen multi-day tramp. The tramp had 5 starters which was a comfortable car load. With another wet Sunday forecast, the day was quickly changed to Saturday. It was a lovely fine day for a walk.
The tramp starts at the site of the old gold mining township of Cullensville near Linkwater where up to 1000 men worked the diggings. Nothing now remains apart form a few signs where buildings once stood plus a noticeboard with faded old photos plus some other faded information. We parked near the site of the Royal Theatre!
One readable figure indicated that about 8000 ounces of gold was taken out –worth about $20 million in todays money! After the alluvial gold ran out, the miners moved to find the source of that gold and started mining quartz in the ridgeline. That lead to the construction of the track up and over the saddle and joining up with a track from the Waikakaho Valley in the Wairau.
The track provides quite a spectacular walk along the valley until it starts to zig-zag more steeply up to the saddle. It would have required much co-operation and co0ordiantion between the miners to build the track, which is in remarkably good order considering the passage of time and recent extreme weather. Across the valley was the ugliness of recently harvested forest, with many landslips dumping debris (slash) into the creek below.
The track did go through a forestry block as we climbed higher – presumably following an old paper road? The trees looked close to harvest. The damage to the walkway can only be imagined once harvesting starts. Some nearer the start had recently been harvested. Some forest blocks can be quite acceptable for tramping, but the harvesting is such an environmentally destructive process.
It took about 3 hours to gain the saddle where we stopped for lunch. On the map an area called the “Village Clearing” was shown to be a further 30 minutes on, so after being re-energised, we headed further past a small clearing with some remnant rock work and on to a high point overlooking the Wairau Valley. But time was moving on, so a quick look, then a quicker return to the car park by 4 pm- a bit later than planned!
Still time to pick up a soft drink and ice cream in Havelock – all the café’s were closed!
All up about 6 hours of walking; 16 km and 800 metres of climb. The trampers were: Grant, Jo, Rosie, Scott and Graeme (Leader & Scribe)
- Trip Grade: Medium
- Trip Duration: Day Trip
- Trip Area: Marlborough Sounds