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Hot Topic (More than 30 Replies) April School Holidays (Read 1707 times)
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April School Holidays
May 1st, 2018 at 7:32pm
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With the April school holidays approaching I wanted to do something special with my two boys Jamie (12) & Liam (9) and wanted to take them on an adventure into the Southern Alps to chase Chamois, Thar & Wallabies so with the help of a few good members here on the forum I was given a few spots to try so a big thanks to those forum members.

We left home on the first Tuesday of the school holidays and travelled down to the ferry in Wellington catching the overnight ferry to Picton.



From there we travelled down to Kaikoura as SH 1 is now open but only from 7am – 7pm

Travelling down the coast you could see the massive amount of damage and repair going on and by no means is it close to being fixed but what shocked me the most was the amount of seabed which is now well above water as opposed to how I knew it before the earthquake.





The last time the boys were in the south island was only when they were babies so all of this country was new to them so I made sure we stopped off on the way to enjoy the sights and sounds.



The first stop was to catch up with “264 Magic” as the last time he saw the boys was when he was living up here in the Waikato so we ended up staying the night at his place.



The next day we caught up with another forum member who was kind enough to get us onto a station to chase Wallabies which the kids were so eager to chase and they sure weren’t disappointed.



During the day we saw a few wallabies dart from cover to cover but eventually managed to catch a few out playing around together so I managed to shoot two bouncing around on a small grassy flat and then a third one represented itself and stood still standing glaring at us which was an easy shot but I missed.





We even managed to see a small group of 4 Fallow does & fawns and happily watched them wondering where the bucks were. We managed to come across a loan spiker later on in the afternoon but any deer we came across were safe as the landowners wanted the deer left unharmed which we were more than happy to do.





Now that I had two on the deck the pressure was off as the kids inspected and looked at them admiring their coats, intrigued by their back legs, paws and their rat shaped heads, kids look at things differently to adults so it was cool to see and hear what their thoughts were on Wallabies.

Further on we spied two wallabies feeding in a grassy patch 400 metres away so with a bit of a stalk we closed the gap to 186 metres and surprisingly they were still feeding, Jamie lined up one and at the shot the Wallaby took a hard hit and stumbled backwards into the Matagouri while the other one took off.





We pulled him out from the matagouri and had a few photos which pretty much ended our day of Wallaby shooting however Jamie did have a crack at a bunny at 300 mtres but just missed it.

We stayed in Twizel at the camp grounds that night and the following day we headed into the Hopkins valley where I thought I could drive half way up to Monument Hut like I did a few years back but the track has since changed and we had to park right at the car park at the start of the track itself.

Our intentions were to walk up the Hopkins into the Huxley and up to Broderick Hut and hunt that part of the valley for Thar & Chamois.

I’ve always liked the Hopkins having hunted Red Hut, Dasler, Dodger, Elcho previously but never got into the Huxley so I thought this could be a new experience for us all.

Both Jamie & Liam carried a 25-30 ltr day pack while I carried my big Tatonka and a small front pack due to all the extra food we needed.
The day wasn’t the best with strong winds and intermittent rain where it took us 3.5 hours to walk into Monument Hut having nearly been pushed over by the winds on three occasions, the boys thought it was funny but never once did they complain.







At Monument we had a bite to eat before carrying on up to the Huxley and over the swing bridge, from the swing bridge dark was approaching and we had to take the high level track up the Huxley and bush bash in places itself due to the river being swollen where we got up to the Forks Hut just after 8:00 pm

At the hut we were greeted by 6 guys who were already there who turned out to be an absolute awesome group of guys from Christchurch.

We settled into the Ranger Hut for the night as we were all tired by this time and the rain was constantly falling so I figured 21 km was enough for the day.

Again the boys never complained so it was some warm food, hot chocolate while sitting in front of a warm fire to end off the day.

The next morning we woke up to rain and strong winds but most importantly it was Liam’s 10th birthday and I guess we can all remember our 10th birthday’s and this was a pretty special place to celebrate it in.



I looked at the weather and not knowing the track from the Fork’s to Broderick I wasn’t too keen on gambling the kids safety with swollen side streams, one of the other guys Nick from South Dakota in the USA who has been bow hunting here in NZ for the past 5 months had a Garmin SPOT where he was able to get updated weather reports which showed the weather clearing overnight so I opted to spend the day around the hut and walk up tomorrow with the side streams settling down.

We collected fire wood, dried wood out around the fire, ate well considering the amount of food I was carrying, played numerous games of cards and even had an afternoon nap.

The other guys all went out hunting and managed to bag a red hind where the heart, eye fillets and back steaks were consumed that night in some garlic butter so Liam had a pretty good birthday surrounded by some awesome people.

Sure enough the next day we woke up to blue skies so we packed up and headed up to Broderick after saying our good bye’s. Nick was also off as he was heading down the south Huxley to the Bivvy.







A couple of hours later we reached Broderick and settled in and decided to spend the remainder of the afternoon glassing the valley by the hut.





Around 4:30 pm I saw a dark blue coloured Hughes 500 fly over from the Landsborough through the “Broderick Pass” and head up the Huxley where I had a bad feeling due to the height he was flying at.

He flew into the head of the valley where I could faintly hear him and wasn’t sure if he was still there but after about 20 minutes he came flying down the valley with a bull Thar hung on a strop under the chopper... MOTHER f**kER!!!

I later read through the hut log book and from what I read this was a common occurrence and also a common occurrence for the rest of the Hopkins too.

That night we were joined by 2 German girls and a guy from Britain who came in for the night, they were also a good group of people where we played an hour long game of last card.

The next morning we were up early, said our good bye’s as we headed off. From our first vantage pointed we glassed the valley but nothing was seen, looking down valley high up into an inaccessible spot we watched a group of 6 Chamois feeding and playing about but as much as I liked to have hunted them... their location was impossible to get too.











We carried on up the valley stopping and glassing frequently but nothing in the scrub or up high was seen. We got up to the end of the valley by late afternoon hoping the animals would start coming out of their hiding spots but nothing, nudda so we slowly went back to the hut.

Back at the hut we had two new guests, an elderly tramping couple, the guy was ok but his wife was a rather sour woman who didn’t like hunters and certainly didn’t like the idea of kids out hunting so they kept to themselves and we kept to ourselves.

Next morning they were off so it was good riddance but also we decided to pull the pin as the area had been thrashed by chopped hunters.



It took us 9 hours to walk from Broderick to the car park which is a total of 25 km which is a long walk for anyone never mind for a 12 and 10 year old and more so for Jamie as he twisted his ankle the first 2 km into the walk but again they never complained.

By the time we got to the car my shoulders were aching, Jamie’s ankle was slowing him down and only Liam was the last one standing still full of energy.

That night we checked into the holiday camp grounds in Twizel after getting some pizzas and we bump into Nick who we last saw heading into the south branch of the Huxley, he said he saw no animals and that the area too had been hammered by chopped hunters as evident of the hut book comments.

The following day I was planning on taking things easy especially with Jamie’s ankle and to allow us all a day of recovery and a soak in the Oramarama Hot Pools but after a phone call to a mate who said he was heading into a spot that afternoon our plans changed and we were now walking into “Spot X”

That night we got into a hut but it was somewhat full so someone had to sleep on the floor. I got Jamie and Liam to bunk up together and I slept on the floor... not the easiest thing to do but it had to be done and outside it was a frosty night.

The next morning we headed off hunting spotting a lone nanny Thar high up on a scree slope and a group of red deer running off along the face of a mountain after they caught our scent. Even though we couldn’t line up on anything it was still awesome to see.

Our mate had an appointment for later that day so he had to leave but was coming back later that evening, he gave us some directions for a camp he has so after we went back to the hut, had some food, packed up we were off to find this camp.

On the way in the middle of the day we bumped into two Thar which we watched before I got Jamie all settled in with the 284

He lined up on one and squeezed off a shot with the report of a solid thwack and the animal jumping in the air and crumbling to the ground.



From the Thar we carried on but somehow we managed to stuff up the directions and figured we’d bump into our mate when he came back in later that evening so in the meantime we found a nice spot to glass the tops from where we spied with our little eyes four different groups of Thar high above us where there were some good looking big bodied Bulls but with only 10x binoculars I was certainly wishing I had a spotting scope!

As darkness fell we still hadn’t seen our mate so we had dinner under the stars and built ourselves a sleeping area amongst the tussock and settled in for the night, it wasn’t going to be a cold night like it was the night before which was a plus.



We jumped into our sleeping bags and lay in amongst the tussock where we watched the stars high above and even spotted a few different satellites racing over.



The next morning we woke up to an over cast morning where there was certainly a change in weather where you could feel that bad weather was coming, we stashed our bags and decided to head up high towards the Thar and see how far we could get, as we started our climb, 200 metres out of the valley floor we bumped into a red stag which would have been a 4 pointer but one side was broken off, he was only 150 mtres away and was more curious than frightened of us but eventually left.

Had he have been a big animal then the outcome could have been different.

We continued to climb battling through scrub and eventually got onto a leading ridge where we could only spot one group of Thar from the night before.

As we continued to climb we came across a small gully where we quickly dived for cover as there in front of us were three bull Thar.

Jamie was next to me as we watched them and they in turn watched us.

I looked them over and could see they were only young, their horns weren’t long, they had nice skins but still needed time to get bigger so we just sat and watched where they soon departed.

We continued the climb getting higher where we became more exposed to the cold winds and before we knew it we were in the snow line.



We sidled along and eventually got to within 600 mtrs of the group of Thar we spotted the night before, there were some nice bull Thar in amongst that group but it was still hard to judge their horns without a spotting scope, we also spotted another group of Thar which were well over 1 km away and amongst that group was this behemoth of an animal due to his big body size and basically was just a huge fuzz ball so I figured he’d have a good set of horns on him!



The time now was after 12 midday and we’d climbed 800 mtrs altitude, I checked my phone where I was able to get reception and looked at the weather forecast which said rain by late afternoon with snow falling later that night and over the weekend.

I had my most treasured items with me... my boys and while I’m no expert in hunting the southern alps I wasn’t about to risk my boys safety for an animal where there will be many more hunts to come.

In order to get to the closest group of Thar which were 600 mtrs away we needed to climb another 150 mtrs, sidle, go down, around and then start the stalk where I estimated that by the time we did that, shot an animal if we were lucky as the winds weren’t the best and then get off the mountain we would be back at our packs around dark and then had the long walk out.

It was a no brainer... safety first so we watched for a few more minutes and headed back to our packs, it took us just on 2.5 hours to climb back down where we had a good fed and then headed out getting back to the car as darkness fell.

Just as we drove off it started to rain so I felt pretty good about the timings.

Later on I talked to our mate and found out we’d gone too far and that he did come back in and looked for us but obviously we didn’t catch up... bloody Murphy!

So that was pretty much the end of the hunt but we had achieved quite a bit, we saw and shot Wallabies & Thar, we saw Chamois, red deer & Fallow deer so it was quite a mixed bag.

All up we estimated we had walked a total of 90 km on the three different hunts!

That night we travelled up to Hamner and the next day spent it at the hotpools soaking up the warmth before travelling up through the Lewis Pass to Blenheim as I wanted to show the boys some cool country not that they saw it as they slept from Hamner to St Arnaud.

Once at St Arnaud we stopped by the check out the BIG eels under the jetty which is always cool to see.



We caught the ferry that night getting into Wellington at 2:00 am and then the long drive home which gave me time to think about a trip for next year’s April School Holidays and later that night we celebrated Liam’s 10th Birthday as a family.


  

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Brendan
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Re: April School Holidays
Reply #1 - May 1st, 2018 at 7:47pm
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Great memories and a great read, well done to all involved. Cool
  
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Re: April School Holidays
Reply #2 - May 1st, 2018 at 8:55pm
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Great stuff 7/10 (top dad  Smiley), a trip that you and the boys will never forget, superb effort fellas.

Hope to see and read about your adventures in the future!!

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Re: April School Holidays
Reply #3 - May 1st, 2018 at 9:14pm
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Enjoyed the read. Sounds like an epic trip.
  
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Re: April School Holidays
Reply #4 - May 1st, 2018 at 9:15pm
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Great work mate just spent the whole school holidays in the hills with my lads also.
Love the bit about the old sour bat not liking hunting and kids hunting lol....met many of them myself.
Top work all the best.

Matt
  
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Re: April School Holidays
Reply #5 - May 1st, 2018 at 9:23pm
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Cheers mate.  Smiley
  
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Re: April School Holidays
Reply #6 - May 1st, 2018 at 9:27pm
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Onya. Respect.

The best outdoor experience, and with Dad! (And that night sleeping on the tops together would have been magic).

Those lads walked some K's . . . tell them I'm impressed, they get the big thumbs up (oh and you do as well cos your shoulders had to bear the loads for longer while going at their pace.)
  

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Re: April School Holidays
Reply #7 - May 1st, 2018 at 9:41pm
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great trip seventenths . the kids will remember that for a long time. Smiley
  
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Re: April School Holidays
Reply #8 - May 1st, 2018 at 9:51pm
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Legend!
  
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Re: April School Holidays
Reply #9 - May 2nd, 2018 at 12:00am
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Great read 70%, that's a real adventure trip for your lads.  Almost a book, with pic's covering almost the whole trip.
Good on you boys, for keeping up with Dad, really enjoyed reading about all the different animals you saw and shot.
Ask Dad to PM me your address, and I'll send you a Bahco knife each to accompany you on your further outdoor adventures. But be most careful with them , they are VERY sharp,cheers X-P.
  

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Re: April School Holidays
Reply #10 - May 2nd, 2018 at 7:28am
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Great effort and perfect mixture of adventure! Your boys are lucky to have someone with hunting/tramping experience to pass onto them... Looking forward for more stories to come in the future!  Cool Smiley
  

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Re: April School Holidays
Reply #11 - May 2nd, 2018 at 7:59am
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Great read, thanks for sharing your adventure  Cool
  
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Re: April School Holidays
Reply #12 - May 2nd, 2018 at 8:12am
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Fantastic adventure & report, thanks.
  
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Re: April School Holidays
Reply #13 - May 2nd, 2018 at 9:01am
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Cool Cool Cool Cool
  

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Re: April School Holidays
Reply #14 - May 2nd, 2018 at 11:29am
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Great post about a cool mission.
  
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