There were 10 participants who assembled at the Sanctuary visitor centre and paid their fees before introductions and a trip briefing. We entered the Sanctuary through the secure double gate and proceeded across the dam to the Loop Track. We passed the new mouse-proof low fence that delineates and protects an area of 3.7 ha where Tuatara will be introduced in the near future. The morning was fine and still with prominent bird-song in the canopy. Soon we passed the bridge to the Beech Glade and proceeded on the Valley Track up to the 1909 dam and upper weirs of the old water-works. The crossing of the Brook Stream (low, no wet feet) took us to the true L-bank and on up past the foot of Falcon Spur monitoring track. The bird life was very prominent here in the lovely morning sun (Bellbird, Tui, Piwakawaka, Tomtit). We continued along the Valley Track admiring the large Totara and Matai trees and views into the stream below before Totara Crossing to the true R bank. A short rise and descent brought us to Flagstone Crossing where there is now a fine bridge. After ascent of the “Stairway to Heaven” (lovely stone steps), we passed the foot of Tuatara Spur monitoring track and took a refreshment break.

NTC BWS 3 Sept 2023d TGCrossing Brook Stream

We proceeded on the Valley Track with varied mature bush, mainly ferns, beech and broadleaf, before crossing to the true R bank and passing a beautiful spot above the stream where there is a commemorative seat. Another 0.5km and we were at Ferny Flat, the destination also for the Koru Track from the VC. Another easy crossing brought us to the Corkscrew area and the start of the Upper Valley Track (UVT). We all admired the large picnic table (see pic) hand-made from windfall beech by a volunteer, Brian.

NTC BWS 3 Sept 2023a WWTeam (-2) at the Corkscrew picnic table

After crossing Zigzag side stream and passing delightful Champagne Pool (no takers for a swim), the UVT reaches the foot of Kakariki Spur monitoring track (S.I. Robin sighted). This we started up with steep zigzags through the now open, nearly pure beech forest. The contour monitoring lines cross the spurs at 50m vertical intervals and we counted off the lines as we ascended from UVT/C-line to K-line i.e. 400m vertical. No zig-zags past F-line but the angle decreased (phew). We passed the large cages used in the introduction of 125 Kakariki karaka (orange fronted parakeet) that are now thriving. We heard many in the treetops but only one was sighted (sharp-eyed Veronica). We took lunch at a glade near J-line in calm and mild conditions.

NTC BWS 3 Sept 2023b TGTotara Crossing with wreckage of plank bridge

Then on up to K-line where we went left to the predator-proof fence at the end of the line. About 1 km along inside the fence brought us to Toutouwai Gate (near 3rd House on the Coppermine Trail). Here starts a track direct back down into the valley. The UVT also starts here and gently descends NE for about 1.5 km before zig-zag’ing steeply down to beside the nascent Brook Stream. The upper valley is a magic area with many large Rimu and Matai as well as a variety of ferns and broadleafs. A spectacular new section of UVT goes down on the true-L above a small gorge. Following the now more substantial stream with a couple of crossings brought us to D-line. After crossing from UVT to the true-R we followed Carters Track around then down to Koru Track. A short but much needed break by the Twins (two magnificent Rimu and Matai) was followed by the final 35 min descent of Koru Track back to the VC gate.

NTC BWS 3 Sept 2023g NSTeam (-1) at Ferny Flats crossing

This circuit took over 6 hours but the energetic workout was enjoyed by everyone due the excellent tracks, fine weather, good company and above all, the magnificent forest, stream and birdlife. So close to Nelson City!

Pat Holland, Nina, Rosie-Anne, Tony G, Veronica. Visitors: Angelika, Carol, Era, Tony L, Wendy.

Note: BWS gave permission for this club trip to use two of the monitoring tracks in the Sanctuary. Individual visitors should abide by the BWS advice to use only the designated public tracks.