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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Fox River/Dilemma Creek - 11-13th November 2011

Uncle Roddus Tramping Diary:Tramp No 109
Fox River/Dilemma Creek - 11-13th November 2011

 As it was mentioned in the club trip description, The Inland Pack Track is a route, cut back in the 1860s, to facilitate access to the new gold fields, long before the current coastal road was constructed in the 1920s. The long weekends trip description, as stated in the club newsletter, was to start up the Fox river on Friday, with some cave exploration on the way to our first camp site at the Ballroom Overhang, Using this site to hide from the forecast rain expected that night. Saturday was to involve a relaxed womble up Dilemma  and Fossil Creeks and to camp somewhere near the Taurus Major submergence on Bullock Creek, hoping the rain had done its bit by then. Sunday was to complete the Pack track and have pancakes at Punakaiki before the trip home. A nice easy walk through some extremely beautiful country.
 This is not quite how things panned out.
 A party of 7 keen explorers picked up Uncle Roddus at Springfield on a pleasant Canterbury morning, before heading off on our weekends adventures. First stop(apart from Morning tea at Arthurs Pass) was Dolomite Point, where we played tourists and visited the legendary Pancake Rocks, which is, I believe, were we were at 11:11am on the 11/11/11, although were were all to enthralled with the rock formations and to busy snapping away with our cameras to actually check the time. The sea was fairly calm, so we didn't get to see the blowholes in action. What with two Germans, one Iranian, one Irish, one Canadian and three kiwis in our group, it wasn't surprising that this was the first visit to the Pancakes for many in the group.
Next stop was the Fox River and the start of our massive expedition. We readied ourselves while the drivers did the obligatory car shuffle ready for our resurgence on Sunday.
 The weather was holding as we headed up the Fox in overcast but warm and humid conditions. At the track junction, where the Pack track crosses the river, we ditched our packs, as the Activities Manager(Jonathan) took over from the Logistics Manager(Thomas), grabbed our headlights and a layer of warm clothing and  headed off for the first of out weekend side trips to do a bit of Spelunking in Babylon Cave. After a steep and slippery, but short, climb through the bush on a bearly discernible track lined with stinging nettle at both ends and where Uncle Roddus gave a short demonstration of downhill freeform somersaulting after placing too much faith in a rotten branch, we arrive at the gaping mouth of Babylon. We all excitedly climbed down into this rather large cavern and proceeded to travel up and down over big piles of rocks and wade through the narrower section with a flowing subterranean stream before reaching the half way point of the cave, further of which we would need a permit to proceed. Still we had traveled several hundred meters. We took a group photo, as evidence of our Spelunking and then proceeded to travel back to the surface.
 Reunited with our packs, we continued on to our evenings destination. The limestone cliffs were starting to close in on the river as we progressed up stream and the natural beauty of the area was starting to become more apparent. We reached the Ballroom Overhang in the early evening and was suitably wowed by its size and the wonderful colours and patterns in the layers of rock. Tents were pitched, meals were cooked and discussions were had about how impressed we were with both Babylon and Ballroom. After eats, much discussion was had about what the Morrows plans would be. Activities Manager had several items of interest he was willing to show us and Logistics Manager was very nonchalant about whatever plan we choose to adopt. As every one was so impressed with Ballroom as a campsite and the forecast rain had so far failed to materialise, it was suggested that we stay at Ballroom for both nights(to avoid camping in possible rain and repacking and re pitching tents) and spend Saturday indulging in the very interesting and worthwhile activities that Activities Manager was suggesting. Finally we decided to wait untill morning and see what the weather was doing before making the final decision.
The forecast rain didn't arrive and a bit of a lie in was had. The motivation to walk longish distances on this second day was ranging from low to over enthusiastic and so much more discussion was had to what plan we would adopt. After Breakfast, it was pretty much decided to stay at Ballroom a second night and thus allow Activities Manager to wow us with his local knowledge. The first activity of the day then, was to walk up Welsh Stream and visit a small cave with some glow worms and a waterfall in it.
  Welsh Stream is a stunningly beautiful moss covered creek bed flowing through the towering limestone cliffs on a limestone bed and greatly impressing the group with its greenery and mini waterfalls and cool rock erosion's. The cave arrived and Activities managed sourced 3 inflated inner tyre tubes hidden in the forest. The cave was full of deep water and so those wanting to explore had to strip down to bare minimum clothing and paddle in using the inflated tyre tubes. Logistics Manager was first in, followed closely by Uncle Roddus, but, as the others teased him about later, as the water started to envelop his midriff, Logistics Manager "Shrieked like a girl", said it was too cold and backed out as Uncle Roddus passed him, also letting out a little shriek as the not so warm water passed his neither regions. Continuing on and soon fully immersed in the water and paddling along with the aid of the tyre tube, Uncle Roddus was soon joined by Andrea and Chantal as we paddled about the cave checking out the waterfall, blocked by a large tree in the recent floods, and then plunging ourselves into darkness to enjoy the glow worms. The rest of the party declined to get quite so wet.
  Back at Ballroom, with the weather still not raining, another lengthy discussion was had to what the plan for the rest of the day would be, and it was finally decided to definitely stay the second night at Ballroom, thus negating the car shuffle, and abandoning the original trip plan. Activities Manager had enough activities in the area to keep us enthralled for the rest of the day and informed us that the best of the scenery was actually contained in the area we were to explore.
  Leaving Ballroom again, we backtracked down the Fox to Dilemma Creek and reconnected with the Pack Track. Continuing up Dilemma, we admired the awesome limestone walls that enclosed us on both sides of the creek and more pancake rocks, some of which are in a more uplifted angle than their seaside brethren. Next we got to travel up stream in another wonderfully moss coated creek, called Waterfall Creek, to (you Guessed it) a waterfall. Photos were took and we climbed to the top of the waterfall for more pictures and a bite to eat.
  Back in Dilemma and Activities Manager had commented several times about the state of the area after what appears to have been some major flooding recently, as well as his noticing that the water levels were still higher than normal. This contributed to his slight difficulty in finding the target of our next adventure and he soon disappeared from our view as the rest of us were putting our noses into various nooks and crannies looking for a certain cave. We did find a small cave where the creek submerges to come out further down by Waterfall Creek. Activities Manager soon reappeared, finding what he was looking for and then explained to us that this excellent glow worm cave had been damaged in the floods but was still worthwhile checking out and he would guide us in two separate groups. Getting into this grotto, involved squatting down almost in the water lapping at the entrance and then waddling over some rocks blocking the entrance before wading through the narrow bit with waste deep water and then climbing up and over a large rockfall before descending into the glow worn dell. Once headlights were extinguished and our eyes adjusted and the worms also readjusted, we settled down to marvel at the awesome display of this galaxy of glowing worms. Everybody was suitably impressed.
  The rest of the days activity was to continue up Dilemma and into Fossil Creek, following the Pack Track in the picturesque Fossil Creek untill we got to where the track leaves the creek bed and disappeared into the forest. After encountering two wild goats in the creek bed, we reach the aforementioned destination by late afternoon.Although Activities manager recommended another waterfall about 1km further up the track, it was decided to flag this and start on the return to Ballroom.
  We arrived back at Ballroom after leaving Dilemma for a lateish dinner, after which Myra exclaimed that she was "Attacked" by a giant Eel down at the river while washing her dishes. We all rushed down, hoping to see this beast and instead saw this lovely small greenish/yellow eel of the like none of us had seen before.
  A pleasant night was then had in front of a small fire, socialising, spotting the possums and rats hanging round the perimeter if the camp and consuming the large quantities of chocolate that Moss had trucked in in his pack.
  On Sunday we had a longer lie in before breaking camp. Chantal discovered a rat had chewed through the front of her jacket to get at some nuts she had in a bag in a pocket.  Logistics Manager, also doubling as Transport Manager, left camp earlier with Transport Under Manager to do the car unshuffel, while the rest of us finished packing and plodded off in light drizzle back out the Fox.
  Our final activity, before heading back to civilisation again was to play tourists again and check out the short Truman's track and rocks/beach below. Some impressive Rimu and Rata were encountered amongst the Nikau palms and the formations on the beach were very cool.

A taste of the Pancake rocks.

Very cool the way they used the natural formation of the rocks to make this part of the walkway.

Starting up the Fox River.

The Track to Babylon

Babylon Mouth

Descent into Babylon

looking back to the cave entrance.

In Babylon, All those spots are water vapour reflecting in my flash.

Climbing down more rocks in Babylon and we didn't encounter any Orcs or cave Trolls.

The group shot in Babylon

Heading back out along the cave stream.

Towering Limestone on Fox river

Looking up Dilemma Creek.

And Heading for Ballroom.

More Cliffs near Ballroom.

Approaching Ballroom.

The Ballroom Overhang.


Welsh Creek.

More of Welsh Creek.

Abd more of Welsh Creek.

Moss in Welsh Creek

The Welsh Creek Cave.

The Welsh Creek Weka

Delimma on Saturday.

Dilemma Creek

More Dilemma


The curving rock wall.

Waterfall Creek

More Waterfall Creek

Lower Watergfall

Upper Waterfall

Uncle Roddus At Waterfall

The rock that looks like a tortoise shell is just above the waterfall.

Where some of Dilemms flows under the hill

Is that a cave?

Coming out of Glow Worm cave

Approaching Fossil Creek

In Fossil Creek

Iranian drinking habits

A tree in the wrong position


Rimu trees on Trumans track

This is a Mati Tree with a Rata tree growing around it.


end of Trumans track


Trumans cave.

Some open air Spelunking

Caught a shot of this fella by the car park


Uncle Roddus emerging out of Welsh Creek

Cuppa at ballroom.


Anonymous said...

I happened on your blog via Google, as I was hoping to make an expedition an camp at the ballroom overhang this summer. Do you happen to know if any authorities need to be notified? It seems that your group was an arranged tour? :)

Roddus said...

The Inland Pac Track and The ballroom Overhang are on Conservation land and is open to public acess, no authorities need be notified. Our trip was a Club trip from the Christchurch Tramping Club and was not any type of arranged tour, except that one of our party knew the area very well and was able to show us some stuff that we wouldn't normally see. He is an experienced caver also.

Anonymous said...

Your tramp looked like excellent fun, was great reading and photos. So much so you've inspired us visiting brits and new found tramping fans to head up and attempt your same route this week.

Roddus said...

Enjoy. it looks like the weather may be much better than last weekend.