An ideal winter trip
Big Bush Walk – Saturday 10 July 2021
Since we hadn’t done this trip before, we did a recce on Sunday 4th July. After some hard frosts the Skating Rink Pond was covered with a thick layer of ice and when we arrived there were a number of skaters enjoying themselves. The frost on the grasses and shrubs near the rink was spectacular and the clearings along the track were white with snow or was it just frost.
On Saturday 10th July we had thirteen booked in with meeting places in Richmond at 9am and then in Wakefield. We arrived at the Teetotal carpark and skating pond soon after 10am. Unfortunately much of the ice had melted during the week and the spectacular ice crystals had all gone. From the carpark we went along the Village Link cycle track and then turned right onto the Duck Down Track walking up the ridge to a vantage point with a good view of Lake Rotoiti where we had a morning tea stop. After the break we headed up the hill to the top of the ridge and then turned right onto the Big Bush Ridge Track. We have previously been down the Rocky Horror Track and thought it aptly named due to the slippery, rounded rocks which are common along that route and best avoided, even on foot. The Big Bush Ridge Track goes through attractive beech forest and took us at least 4km along the ridge. We went past the turnoff to the Flying Moa Track and were amused to see an old flymo lawnmower hanging from a tree. Our lunch spot was in a clearing of wind-thrown trees with a little bit of sun helping to warm us up.
From the lunch spot we continued through beech forest along the easy ridge with the track dropping down gently and later reaching an area where a crop of Douglas Fir trees have recently been harvested. From the track here there were views to the south and west looking across at Mt Robert and down the Buller River. The track is in the open for a short distance then cuts back into the native forest before reaching a point where it starts to turn to the south on “Robin Banks” cycle track and then drops onto Nelson Forest loop road. We followed the road down the hill but missed one right turn and had to back track. The road goes down onto the flat where we picked up the Sidewinder cycle track and then “Sidewinder Connect” leading onto “Rattler Rim”. This track goes through manuka shrub land and tussock flats eventually coming onto the Skating Road Loop Track. It is shorter to turn right onto this track and follow it back to the Village Link Track and then back to the carpark. We were back at the cars by 3.30pm and finished the trip with a drink in front of the open fire at the Alpine Lodge.
The loop makes a very pleasant round trip and is ideal in winter when there are very few mountain bikers around. Trampers on this trip were Lynley, Kerry, Julie, Julian, Chris, Miang, Jo (scribe), Brian, Helen, Paula, Maureen, Roger and Robyn.