OTMC party at the head of Tiel Creek

Part 11 - 2003- 2013

The Early Years (1923 - 30) - The Thirties The War Years and the Post War Renaissance - The Fifties - The Fortieth Anniversary Celebrations - The Sixties - The Early Seventies - 1973/83 - 1983/93 - 1993/2003 - 2003/2013

The milestone of 80 years of tramping and mountaineering by the club was attained in August 2003. Terry Casey was elected as President replacing Alan Thomson. Alan had served as club President for five consecutive terms, demonstrating a strong commitment to the club.

Ian Sime was bestowed with Life Membership of the OTMC at the 2003 AGM in recognition of many years’ service in various roles including Vice President, Secretary and Membership Secretary.

The 2004 Easter trip ventured to Arthurs Pass. Despite heavy snow upon arrival a successful trip was enjoyed by members, with trips to the Edwards Valley as well as an ascent of Avalanche Peak. Another trip that featured snow in 2004 was a late September crossing from Kay Creek to Scott Creek—an enjoyable trip.

At the 2004 AGM Antony Pettinger was elected to the role of President, a role he had previously held in the early 1990s. The club membership was just under 250 members, this contrasting with 160 odd just ten years earlier.

The annual meeting in 2004 also reported that the club was in a stable financial position, with a steady increase in membership—this is a trend that has generally been maintained for the decade.

In 2004 Big Hut, on the Rock and Pillars, was sold to the newly formed Rock and Pillar Trust with the intention to rehabilitate the hut in line with its historical background.

During 2005 discussion was initiated amongst various interested parties regarding Leaning Lodge, the club hut near the summit of the Rock and Pillar Range—this followed a report from the Department of Conservation “that the structural life of the hut is very limited”.

Doug Forrester organised a crossing of Ball Pass in March 2005. This was a trip of two completely contrasting days—the walk up Ball Ridge to a point just before Caroline Hut was enjoyed in fantastic weather. The crossing to the Hooker was achieved on a day where the weather deteriorated constantly— one tramper was heard to mutter he would be going to church the next day as “he had just been to hell and back”.

Easter and the Otago Anniversary fell on consecutive weekends in 2005, so an eight day trip was planned in the Matukituki area. The planned route was Shotover Saddle / Tyndall Burn / Lochnagar / Snowy / Dart Hut / Cascade Saddle / Aspiring Hut / French Ridge Hut / Scott’s Biv and return to Raspberry Flat. The trip started with a wet slog over Shotover Saddle and finished by just beating a storm on the descent of Cascade Saddle—the head of the West Matukituki was abandoned. sadly this trip was the last time Doug Forrester tramped with the club.

One of the more popular trips in 2005 was the Labour Weekend trip to the Otago Central Rail Trail—once it was figured how to get 25 bikes on one trailer a great weekend was enjoyed, with chilly starts rewarded by stunning days.

An important step in the rehabilitation of Leaning Lodge took place at the 2005 Annual Meeting, when the Leaning Lodge Trust was formed—the Trust was set up so that the various interested users are represented, with at least two Trustees from the OTMC, with the club responsible for ongoing elections of new Trustees.

One of the largest trips over recent years was the one to Fiordland in March 2006—42 trampers split across 11 parties enjoyed trips along the Livingston and Hollyford valleys and into the Earl Mountains.

In 2006 DoC reached an agreement with the club that would see the Department replacing Jubilee Hut—the hut built in the Silver Peaks to mark the club’s 25th Anniversary in 1948. The new hut would be built on the true left of Cave Creek, on an elevated terrace. As part of the agreement with the club, both Jubilee Hut and Yellow Hut would be removed by the Department.

The clubrooms received its first major “make-over” since the club purchased the Young Street property in 1990. The interior was completely repainted and new carpet laid. New photos and a “metric map” wall completed this work.

In lieu of a tramping hut social, Wolfgang Gerber instead arranged the 2006 social weekend to travel to Greymouth by train and then back to Arthur’s Pass for the night. Unfortunately dark skies and showery weather obscured the views, but it proved to be a popular trip for the 38 participants.

For the end of year trip for 2006, the club ran “the ultimate mystery day trip from Dunedin”, with the destination ultimately being Conical Hill, above Harris Saddle.

24 people completed a cross-over trip from the West Matukituki to the Rees Valley over Waitangi Weekend 2007, while 37 people completed the Routeburn Crossover in early May. It was the relatively early arrival at Falls Hut from the Divide that determined that the best way to see the Routeburn whilst avoiding the booking necessities was to tramp it in day. Come December and 10 members took up the challenge, although as it turned out, it was a pleasant moderate day trip—there was plenty of time to enjoy an extended break on Harris Saddle.

The Bushcraft course held early in 2007 was the last time we have used Tirohanga Camp for the first instruction weekend. Tirohanga Camp proved an ideal location for this weekend since the early 1980s and the club can be proud of the many successful weekends held here. For the first time ever, Bushcraft 2007 did not feature a Silver Peaks weekend—instead the practical tramp ventured to the East Matukituki. The optional weekend revisited the Ohau area, with key trips being the North–South Temple crossover, and the Maitland / Freehold Creek crossover.

May 10, 2007 marked an important day for the Silver Peaks—the opening of the new 10-bunk Jubilee Hut. The club President officially opened the new hut at a ceremony that included several OTMC members. Life Member Lyall Campbell provided a great link to the past. As a young tramper she helped to construct the original OTC hut, and was able to attend the opening of the new hut. The new hut has re-vitalised usage of the Silver Peaks, with the hut proving a popular destination for overnight trampers. Fittingly, the plaque from the club hut now adorns the new structure.

The club was saddened to learn of the death of Doug Forrester following an illness, in October 2007. Doug had joined the club in 1983 and was a pivotal and inspiring member to many over the years. Doug’s tramping ethos leant more to the tougher trips, off track and up high. Doug led many trips, as well as instructing extensively in Bushcraft and Snowcraft—Doug’s legacy lives on in the many he encouraged in the hills.

An excellent trip to Jackson’s Bay in November saw a club party traverse the coastline to Stafford Bay and return via the inland route.

December 2007 saw an end of year trip to Doctor’s Point in the Roxburgh Gorge, downstream from Alexandra. The weekend was very hot, with many members dipping into the Clutha to cool down. A barbecue and social evening was enjoyed by all.

The club was struck by tragedy in February 2008 when the OTMC lost Trevor Mason, who drowned in a river crossing accident at Whare Creek during the annual OTMC Silver Peaks Marathon. Although Trevor was a recent member of the club, he was one of the more active trampers, particularly if the trip was to be hard, long or different.

The Milford Track was revisited at the start of May 2008—the weather was typical for the area, but early fog cleared from McKinnon Pass, allowing some great views.

After a break, Richard Pettinger reinstated the annual snowcaving trip to the OTMC trip calendar. This trip continues to provide an instructional and fun weekend constructing and inhabiting a shelter made from snow.

With the recent opening of the Motatapu Track, the club undertook this challenging three day trip in November 2008, travelling from Glendhu Bay right through to Arrowtown.

After no course being held in 2008, Bushcraft returned twice in 2009, in a revised format. Rather than use the camp based instruction weekend, we have reverted to a clubroom based evening instruction course, augmented by a navigation day, a river safety day and a practical weekend trip. The practical trips in 2009 went to the East Matukituki (March) and the Huxley (in November). The changeable weather in spring reminded us the most settled weather is in February to April.

Membership of the club numbered 221 in 2008, down from a peak of 269 in 2006. This number has now averaged out to be steady at approximately 200 members.

For something different, the end of year social trip ventured to Pigeon Island, on Lake Wakatipu. This was the first time any of the 20 plus participants had been to the island, which proved to be a special place and a great way to celebrate the OTMC year.

Waitangi Weekend 2009 was spent in the Craigieburn area. Two parties completed the Cass / Lagoon Saddle trip, while another party ventured up Jordan Stream to the tarns.

The OTMC’s management of 25 Mile Hut ended in 2009, following agreement with Rees Valley Station that the club relinquish its interest in the hut. The future of the hut is now with Rees Valley Station, who have always owned it.

Early 2010 saw the OTMC tackle the Five Pass trip over eight wonderful days. The route over Fohn Saddle, Fiery Col, Cow Saddle, Park Pass (and for this trip) North Col is an established moderate tramping trip through Mt Aspiring National Park. 16 members and friends made up two groups of eight travelling in opposite directions. Highlights include time spent at Fohn Lakes and ascents of Sunset Peak as well as Fohn.

In keeping with providing new challenges for the club, a trip was run to the “hidden lakes” beyond Brod Bay on Lake Te Anau—the lakes are easily seen from Mt. Luxmore on a good day. Relatively open bush allowed half a dozen of these lakes to be discovered. The trip provided useful opportunities for navigation skills (including by GPS).

An Open Day was held in February 2010. The reason for this was two-fold, one to promote the Bushcraft course, as well as to publicise the club. The 2010 Bushcraft course saw a return to the Silver Peaks—it is hard to beat the advantages of using this traditional tramping club area.

In June 2011 Lyall Campbell, a Life Member of the club passed away. Our club records showed that Lyall was our second longest serving member at the time, having joined the Otago Tramping Club in 1951 as a sixth former. The Campbell name resonates strongly through the tramping club. Lyall’s late husband, Bruce (Life Member) did much to shape the club as an active tramper and leader. Lyall, along with Marie McDonald (another Life Member) was instrumental in forming and running the Family Tramping Group for many years.

During 2011 the clubrooms received a new roof. The club knew the roof at 3 Young Street had only a limited life remaining when the rooms were purchased, so to get 21 years out of it was surprising. Due to sound financial management over many years the club was able to pay for the new roof directly from club funds.

A return to the Rees / Matukituki area in February 2012 saw a follow-up to the 2007 trip, this time as a cross-over. Fine weather allowed side trips to the tops overlooking Lochnagar and a trip to the head of the Snowy.

Debbie Pettinger and David Barnes were both elected as Life Members of the club at the 2012 AGM. Debbie has held several roles since 1987, with many years as Bulletin Editor to her credit. David has also carried out various roles for the betterment of the club and the wider tramping community. The AGM was honoured to elect Debbie and David as Life Members at the start of the club’s 90th Anniversary year.

Work on the replacement of Leaning Lodge commenced in earnest in 2012, with the hut being completely rebuilt on the same site. The new hut was essentially complete by February 2013, with some smaller jobs being completed by Easter. Now that the future of both former ski and OTMC huts is assured, trampers, skiers and other outdoor people can enjoy the wonderful Rock and Pillar area knowing there is reliable shelter at hand.

In what could only be viewed as a foolish challenge the club ran a trip entitled “The Kepler in a Day”. Surprisingly this attracted 16 starters, one of the larger trips of 2012. The trip was a success, with an average finish time for the whole track of 14 hours.

Continuing the tradition of an extended Waitangi Weekend trip, 2013 saw a five day trip to the Makarora region. Three parties basked under cloudless skies on trips the Top Forks of the Wilkin, the Makarora / Hunter / Wills through trip, and a reverse traverse of Tiel Creek.

Conservation and recreation protection continue to be a strong focus for the club. David Barnes has led this activity for many years, ably assisted by Richard Pettinger, Rob Mitchell and Mike Floate. In 2013 the OTMC was heartened by the government decision to reject the construction of the Routeburn to Hollyford tunnel. There will always be similar issues to work through and it is imperative the club maintains its work in this area.

It was noted in the 2005 Annual report that the OTMC consists of “two different sides”, a tramping side as well as a social side—this trend has continued to this day and enables the club to retain a larger membership. The recent 90th Anniversary celebrations reinforced the view that the OTC and OTMC have provided many lifelong friendships and experiences. The good news is, the 90th was only a dress rehearsal for the centenary in 2023.

Antony Pettinger

OTC / OTMC History 1923-2013

The Early Years (1923 - 30) - The Thirties The War Years and the Post War Renaissance - The Fifties - The Fortieth Anniversary Celebrations - The Sixties - The Early Seventies - 1973/83 - 1983/93 - 1993/2003 - 2003/2013