Monday, 21 September 2020

Havelock: Resupplying while on the Te Araroa Trail

Havelock as a Te Araroa Trail resupply point...

I recently passed through Havelock near Pelorous Sound on my way to a tramping trip in Kahurangi National Park. I stopped and took some photos of the town and its supermarket as I thought it might be useful to investigate the town as a potential resupply point.

The main street of Havelock in Marlborough Province...

Havelock is half way between Anakiwa at the end of the Queen Charlotte Track and Pelorous Bridge the entrance to the Richmond Ranges. You would be arriving here on day 6-8 of a SOBO trek or day 8-10 of a NOBO trip from St Arnaud so you will be needing an urgent resupply.

Map: Havelock is half way between Anakiwa and Pelorous Bridge

Havelock is the only place close to the trail you can resupply before starting the next two sections of the trail as both Anakiwa and Pelorous Bridge are small settlements.  You used to be able to send drop boxes to Pelorous Bridge campground but this service is no longer available. Your only other option is to hitch to Blenheim about 40 odd kilometres away.

Pelorous Sound from the northern outskirts of Havelock
Havelock is small...less than 300 permanent residents as it is simply a service center for the forestry, farming, factory fishing and holiday industries which exist nearby. There is one petrol station, a medium sized supermarket, some restaurants/cafes, retail shops and other infrastructure to support the local community.

Map: Street map of Havelock, Pelorous Sound

One thing Havelock is famous for are the extensive mussel and salmon farms in nearby Pelorous and Kenepuru Sounds. If you are visiting or staying in Havelock make sure you have some mussels..there are several places selling them and they are really good. 

A visit to the Mussel Pot Cafe is a Te Araroa institution...

There is enough in Havelock for a reasonable rest/lay day but if you needed more than basic food resupply, accommodation or meals you need to hitch to Blenheim. Anyway...lets have a look at what Havelock has to offer the TA trekker...

Four Square Havelock:

Havelock has only the one food store and that is the Four Square supermarket on the corner of SH6 and Neil Street. Four Square supermarkets are very common in smaller towns such as this...they are independently owned but buy goods as a co-operative so they are able to charge similar prices to the big chains. 

The Four Square supermarket in Havelock, Marlborough

The Havelock Four Square supermarket is well stocked and it has almost every item you will need to do a full resupply before you continue your journey. Taking a look at a selection of items the prices are almost the same as in any larger supermarket in a big town or city. 

Havelock Four Square:Chilled food section, fruit and vegetables

Havelock Four Square:a full spread of cured meats...

There are a couple of taverns in Havelock but no liquor outlets so the closest thing you have is the alcohol selection at the supermarket. They have a good range of beer, wine and cider for sale but as with all supermarkets in New Zealand no spirits. There is an off licence at the Havelock Hotel if spirits are your thing.....they have limited hours so check to see when they are open. 

Havelock Four Square:beer, sparkling wine and cider...

Havelock Four Square:various wines, snack nuts and potato chips...

Probably the best way to describe to you what they have in stock is simply to show you. Here are a series of photos of all of the shelves in the Havelock Four Square so you can see for yourself...

Havelock Four Square:crackers, biscuits,cereal...

Havelock Four Square:they have a comprehensive Muesli bar selection...

Havelock Four Square:juice, powdered drinks, soda, iced tea...

Havelock Four Square: a good spread of fish in packets and cans, soup, beans etc.

They had a good selection of bread, wraps, tortillas, pastries etc. so plenty of scope for lunches and no cook dinner meals....

Havelock Four Square:they had bread, wraps, croissant and pastries

Havelock Four Square:teas, coffee, cocoa etc.

Havelock Four Square:dried fruit, nuts and eggs...

They had a selection of the most popular Backcountry freeze dried meals including the fancy muesli and porridge meals. There was also a comprehensive selection of those Continental, Maggi and San Remo pasta side dishes. Plenty of noodles, rice, pasta, instant mash and Mexican meal items....

Havelock Four Square:pasta, rice, sidemeals,  noodles and Backcountry meals

Lots of chocolate including some of the fancy brands for those of you who carry when out on trail.....not me. I only very occasionally carry chocolate and if I am it will be Whittakers sante bars, Snickers or peanut M & M's.

I am more of a savoury guy...chips, olives, cheese, salted nuts, jerky are more my style.

Havelock Four Square:lots of chocolate...

Havelock Four Square: chocolate, sweets, powdered milk etc.

The Four Square had a fairly comprehensive selection of hardware including Meths (for Trangia type cookers), candles, matches and storage bags. What they did not have were any gas canisters..I specifically looked for them but there were none in the store. 

This is problematic as there is no source of them before you enter the Richmond Ranges so you either need to carry them with you from Picton or go 'no cook' on this section of the trail. They may sell them at the service station in Havelock...I will have a look the next time I am passing through. 

Havelock Four Square:hardware, cleaners, meths etc.

Havelock Four Square:storage bags/containers, stationary, tape....

The town may be small but the Four Square in Havelock would be more than capable of resupplying you for your next sections of the trail. They have enough variety to cater for a range of tastes and I am sure you will be able to find something in store to see you through to your next resupply point. 

Bars & eateries in Havelock:

Havelock is on SH6 the main road between Blenheim and Nelson so it has a number of cafes, restaurants and bars to cater to the people passing through. Most of these are clustered around the main road but there are a couple of eateries down by the Marina as well.

The Havelock Marina, Marlborough Sounds

One of the things you should try if you are in Havelock are some green lipped Mussels...they are farmed in the local areas and are damn delicious. Probably the best place for these is the Mussel Pot a well known TA tradition. They do a variety of lunch and dinner meals with an emphasis on seafood...go for the steamed mussels in white wine with crusty bread...yum!!!

They also do non-seafood meals so check out their online menu...

The Mussel Pot steamed mussels.....marvelous!!!
Another place I have eaten lunch is the Captains Daughter a brasserie style cafe, restaurant and bar close to the supermarket. The meal I had was very nice and the cafe has a nice ambiance to was busy as it is the most obvious eatery in the town so you should probably book in for dinner. Prices were moderate and well within a modest budget. 

The Captains Daughter is a cafe/bar in Havelock...
 I have also heard good things about the Mills Bay Mussel Tasting Company they are a Mussel factory farming business but have a retail store and cafe located near the Marina. Dine in or take away options are available. I am going to visit the next time I am heading through Havelock.

Mills Bay Mussels Tasting Room and Eatery

There are a couple of other cafes and restaurants in the town but as I have not sampled their wares I cannot comment on the quality. 

If you are looking to wet your whistle there are three bars in Havelock...the first is the Captains Daughter, there is also the Havelock Hotel and the Slip Inn Brasserie and Bar. All three have websites so have a look to see when they are open. 

The Slip Inn Brasserie and Bar at the Havelock Marina

Apart from the places I have mentioned it is Muggins choice...go have a look at the menus at different places and choose one that suits your taste and budget.

Accommodation in Havelock

Havelock is a days walk from both Anakiwa and the start of the Richmond Range at Pelorous Bridge so it is a good spot for a rest/lay day.

You are going to need somewhere to stay. There are a range of accommodation options in the town ranging from campgrounds right up to top of the line lodges, hotels and holiday homes. The cheapest is the Havelock Holiday Park with tent sites, cabins and dorm style rooms. They have a dining/cooking hall and facilities like showers and laundry services.

Havelock Holiday Park has tent sites and camp facilities...

Moving up the price range there are a couple of Bed and Breakfast places in Havelock which provide accommodation and a morning meal. There are also several motels scattered at various places in the town and if you are a squillionaire there are a couple of high end Lodges.

The Havelock Garden Motel is right in the center of town...

My best advice would be to look at the TA Trail notes for this section and check out the blogs of TA alumni to get their recommendations for good places to stay. 

Miscellaneous information about Havelock and Marlborough:

The closest city with a full range of retail, accommodation and administrative services is Blenheim approximately 40 odd kilometers south along SH 6. Blenheim has around 30 000 residents so it has everything you might need including several big supermarkets, outdoor retail outlets, a hospital, an airport, fast food outlets (KFC/Subway/MacDonalds) and an area DOC office.

Blenheim is the closest city to Havelock...

You can hitch or take public transport (shuttles) to Blenheim or Nelson and some of them will drop you at the Pelorous Bridge camp ground if needed. This would save you one day of mostly road walking on a narrow and very busy highway. 

The campground and camp shelter at Pelorous Bridge Reserve

There is a pharmacy in Havelock which may be able to help you with basic medical requirements such as tape, bandages and over the counter medication. There is also a small museum and the area around the marina is worth visiting to see the various yachts and motor vessels tied up there.

There is a small museum in Havelock...
Heading SOBO you will head to Canvastown before joining Daltons Road all the way to the camp ground at Pelorous Bridge on the edge of the Richmond Ranges. NOBO you have a mix of  track and road walking to Anakiwa at the southern end of the Queen Charlotte Track. Both are one days walk or around 20 kilometres away. 

Anakiwa...the southern terminus of the Queen Charlotte Track

So...hopefully some of that information will be useful to you as you do your planning for your trek of the Te Araroa Trail. 

Monday, 14 September 2020

A trip to Myttons Hut, Cobb River Valley, Kahurangi National Park

Adventures in the Cobb River Valley, Kahurangi National Park

I spent last weekend exploring the Cobb River Valley inland from Takaka in Kahurangi National Park. I had three days in the area and walked up to the end of the valley to Fenella Hut and did some day tramps to interesting spots there. Really beautiful country and interesting for its geology, history and natural beauty...well worth a visit. 

The access road is bloody awful but more about that in my next post...

Looking up the Cobb River Valley from high on the Lake Peel Track

To finish the weekend I walked up to Myttons Hut which can be accessed from the Lake Peel Track as you head back towards the Cobb Dam and Reservoir. This is about a kilometer away from the Trilobite Hut at the end of Cobb Valley Road and is clearly sign posted. 

The Lake Peel Track starts from the Cobb Valley Road...

As you know I am a hut bagger and this particular hut is only 1 kilometer from the road. It was an obvious opportunity to bag the beastie...for a total of seven new huts bagged on this one trip. That takes my total of bagged huts up to nearly 230 and is the first step in my plan to try to bag at least 30 huts this tramping season....

The start of  Lake Peel Track, Cobb Valley, Kahurangi NP

The Lake Peel Track goes up to Myttons Hut and then continues up and over the Peel Range to Lake Peel, Balloon Hut, the Tablelands and the track down to Asbestos Cottage in the Upper Takaka River Valley.

View down to Peel Range and Trilobite Hut, Cobb Valley, Kahurangi NP

It is a mixture of grassland, tussock fields and forest along this track with a bit of a steep grunt of a climb at the start before it settles down into a more even climb up to the hut site. I had been told that it was a 10 minute trip to the hut but it is much longer than that ...30 minutes to the hut and 20 minutes back to the car park.

Heading up the Lake Peel Track to Myttons Hut, Cobb Valley

Map: Lake Peel Track to Myttons Hut

DOC have a intentions shelter near the start of the Lake Peel Track as this is an access way into quite a lot of backcountry tramping terrain. There is an intentions book so if you are thinking about staying at Myttons for the night check the book to see if anyone has already beaten you to it...write your name in the book for safety. 

DOC intentions book at the start of the Lake Peel Track

The first part of the track is across grassland before you climb up into a finger of mature native forest. There are an amazing number of birds in this part of the forest...I could hear Tui calling out to each other as well as Kaka, Bellbirds, Kakariki and Fantails.

You could see them all flitting through the trees....

Climbing through scrub to Myttons Hut on the Lake Peel Track

Entering the forest on the flank of the Peel Range

Beautiful mature forest on the Lake Peel Track

After this you cross a number of open grassland areas all the while steadily climbing up towards the hut. Take a sun hat and water as it was hot work climbing up the track in the blazing sun. A walking or trekking pole is also useful for the uphill climbing...

Crossing a clearing on the way to Myttons Hut, Cobb Valley

The next section of forest went for a couple of hundred meters and was a mixture of massive Beech, Totora, Rimu and other native trees. This is practically untouched forest as this area was always too inaccessible for commercial logging or farming. Before they built the dam up here in the 1950's it would have been a very difficult 3-4 day walk to even access the valley.

Lake Peel Track enters the forest on the Peel Range.....

Mixed Beech, Totora, Rimu forest on the way to Myttons Hut

There are areas of dense Manuka scrub on the Lake Peel Track

After 30 odd minutes you will reenter the bush for the last time and find yourself at the track junction for Myttons Hut. You can just see the chimney of the hut peeking over the bush in the photo below...If you were heading for Lake Peel, the Tablelands or Balloon Hut you turn right and start the 1.5-2 hour slog up to the top of the Peel Range.

Track junction to Lake Peel and Myttons Hut...note the chimney...

Lake Peel Track climbing up the Peel Range.....

It is closer to 40 minutes to walk to Trilobite Hut from Myttons hut...

Mytons Hut is an old deer cullers hut from the late 1950's used back when the government employed shooters to keep rampant deer numbers in check. I wont say hunters because they blasted 40-50 deer a day back then...there were so damn many of them.

That is why we have a hut network in New Zealand as the Department of Internal Affairs etc. built over 600 huts around the country for this purpose. After the deer were gone the huts were turned over to recreation users...

First view of the chimney of Myttons Hut, Kahurangi NP

The rear of Myttons Hut, Cobb Valley, Kahurangi NP

Myttons Hut sits in a lovely small clearing in the bush so it is sunny and open to the wind which blows down this valley. It is small with four bunks, a small table, open fire place and a couple of benches.

There was a massive pile of firewood there from a couple of fallen beech trees. Water for the hut is piped from a nearby stream..I do not know what you do in the height of summer as I imagine this stream dries out. Boil before use of course...

Myttons Hut (1957), Cobb Valley, Kahurangi NP

Myttons Hut has been removed from the DOC hut rota and was due to be demolished but a local group the Friends of Myttons Hut have taken over the maintenance of the hut. They accept donations for ongoing work and if I was staying here I would certainly send them some cash. I have heard they have long term plans to fully restore the hut but money to do so is tight. 

Myttons is maintained by the Friends of Myttons Hut

It is a bit rough and ready inside but then what else would you expect from a 75 year old trampers hut. It would still be a cosy spot in a storm with a blazing fire in the hearth and good companions to pass the time with. 

Interior of Myttons Hut, Cobb Valley.....

Rustic interior of Myttons Hut, Cobb Valley, 

I spent about 10 minutes in and around the hut and then headed back towards the car-park following the same track back to the car. There are good views up and down the Cobb Valley from the clearings along the track. You can see the big peaks like Xenicus and Aorere up at the head of the valley and right along the Peel Range and Lockett Range which border it to south and north. 

Heading back into the native forest from Myttons Hut

Aorere Peak sits at the head of the Cobb River Valley, Kahurangi NP

There are scores of birds in the forest around Myttons Hut...I stopped several times to just take it all in. The predominant bird seems to be Tui...there were dozens of them flying back and forth through the tree canopy. I also heard some distant Kaka calls and what I think were Kakariki screeching. 

Fully mature forest between Myttons Hut and the car-park

Dense undergrowth along the bush edge on Peel Lake Track, Cobb Valley

It was getting a bit blustery as I made my way down to the road as the wind had started to howl down the valley from an oncoming Nor Wester front. I was keen to get out and over the Takaka Hill road before any bad weather arrived but in the event I had good weather the whole way home. 

At one point on the track you have an excellent view right up the Cobb Valley and you could see the full range of terrain I covered on the track to Fenella Hut. I realised what a long way it is to Fenella Hut...14 kilometers doesn't sound like much but when you see it laid out before you...

Pt. 1619 and Iron Hill from the Peel Lake Track, Cobb Valley

Head high Manuka scrub on the Peel Lake Track

Fine view down the Cobb Valley, Kahurangi NP from the Peel Range

I stopped in an area of thick forest about 10 minutes from the hut and sat and listened to the forest for a while. I really wish I had some kind of recording device as the sound of the wind in the trees and the birds calling and singing was wonderful. I like to do this from time to time because you hear, see and smell so much more if you take the time to stop every so often to take in your surroundings.

If you ever head into the valley to visit Mytttons Hut make sure to sit under a tree for a spell and listen to nature calling...

My serenity spot in the forest along the Lake Peel Track

Typical dense undergrowth on the Peel Range, Cobb Valley

I was sitting on this interesting rock when I realised what it is a conglomerate or accretion type of stone made up of small rocks, pebbles and shells. This is a piece of ancient seabed uplifted over the eons to over 900 a.s.l. The rocks around the top north west corner of the South Island are some of the oldest in the country with many of them transported by tectonic shift from Fiordland over millions of years. 

The whole Cobb Valley is a geologists dream with a profusion of rock types, rock formations and types of terrain. At various times this area has been subject to volcanic, tectonic uplift & subsidence and glacial/water erosive action. There is interesting stuff everywhere you look...

A conglomerate rock full of shells and small stones, Lake Peel Track, Cobb Valley

Heading past the DOC intentions shelter, Lake Peel Track

The last 100 meters of the Lake Peel Track, Cobb Valley

The Lake Peel Track car-park is right next to Cobb Valley Road

You can just make out Cobb Reservoir from the Lake Peel Track car-park about 5 kilometres down the valley. The gravel road to the start of these tracks goes along the southern edge of the reservoir on a rough track that needs some work. 

I managed to get the Surfer up here but she didn't like it one bit. I think it is just on the edge of accessibility by a normal 2 W/D car. I would not come up here if it was raining or are going to get stuck!!!

Cobb Reservoir is just visible from the Lake Peel Track car-park

More interesting stuff...there are a series of Roche Moutannee's right next to the Lake Peel Track car-park. A Roche Moutannee is an area of eroded rock smoothed by glacial action in the distant past. The hard rock is polished by the glacier as it passes and leaves a distinctive smooth but also deeply scratched surface behind. 

The Cobb Valley had a massive glacier in it over the last ice age and you can see the left over results everywhere you look. U shaped valleys, hanging valleys, moraine walls now covered in forest and massive glacial erratic rocks. Cobb Reservoir was a deep depression carved out by the glacier which extended almost out to Takaka on the coast. 

A series of Roche Moutonnees next to the Cobb Valley Road

The Lake Peel Track curves up into the center middle of the photo below before heading up the ridge to the top of the range. Myttons Hut is roughly located at the far right end of the plateau you can see in the middle of the photo and the dissecting ridge. 

The Peel Range on the southern side of Cobb Valley, Kahurangi NP
This was a nice wee walk and the numerous birds in the forest around Myttons Hut were an unexpected pleasure. It is well worth taking time to visit the site both to see this quaint hut from the cullers days and for the wonderful bird song. Add it to your "to do" list if ever visiting the Cobb River Valley. 

Access: Turn off SH 60 at Upper Takaka. Drive 35 kms past the power station to the Cobb Resevoir. The Lake Peel car-park is located 500 meters to the east of Trilobite Hut.
Track Times: From the start of the track it takes approximately 20-30 minutes to walk to Myttons Hut (1 kilometer). The return trip takes 15-20 minutes. 
Hut Details: Myttons Hut: (non DOC- maintained by the Friends of Myttons Hut group) free for use, 4 bunks, open fire, woodshed, toilet, water from stream, Trilobite Hut: Serviced, 12 bunks, water from tank, wood burner, woodshed, toilet
Miscellaneous:The Lake Peel Track is uphill from the car park...steep at the start then more gradual. It is a mixture of open grassland and thick mature native forest. The bird population along the track is numerous with Tui, Belbirds, Kaka, Kakariki and Fantails. Myttons Hut is not a DOC hut but is maintained by the Friends of Myttons Hut group.