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This article was first published in SumpThink in February 2005

Wellington Anniversary at Puketiti

With Kim's help, I managed to get to Puketiti for Anniversary Weekend. Douglas and Huyeng had taken over two bedrooms, and Bob and Pru had set up Dyna in the back of the shearers quarters for themselves and their friend Phyllis from New York. Kim and I took a room each and eventually got to bed.

Saturday was devoted to investigating a hole that Doug and Jane had found on a previous visit, so with Dougs truck and my RAV4 we drove to the bottom end of the farm. Life is so much easier when you don't hve to walk for miles to get to and from the entrances. With the entrance pitch rigged, Doug, Kim, Huyeng and Bob disappeared for the rest of the day into what seems to have been Thistlebob.

Pru, Phyllis, and I then went back to the vehicles to pass the time. Pru thought investigating some dolines further to the south seemed like a good idea so I went with her. We decided to look over a nearby ridge before we did so, and were rewarded with the sight of a magnificent bush filled kaast valley. We couldn't resist so into it we went. We investigated as much as we could until it was time for me to turn round. Unfortunately we didn't find anything, except a 3 metre length of free standing phreatic passage that I managed to get into. It passed through an outcrop of rock standing in the middle of the valley. My suspicion is that this whole valley is an old collapsed system, with little cave left. Still, it was fun to go into it.

After a short break we went back to the area we had origianlly planned on looking at. We found a couple of small holes, and one 10-15m pitch that may or may not go further, but nothing of real excitement. The others were still not back, and we had had enough sun, so went back to the hut.

That night, 10 or so SUSS cavers arrived, and took over the rooms except for one that we had packed into.

Sunday was to be my day to try and get some more photos of Kuratahi, so Bob tok myself, Pru, Phyllis, Huyeng and Simon (a SUSS caver) in. After 7 hours I had managed to take around 150 pictures, and I hope to get half a dozen or so good ones out of that. Thank goodness for digital cameras is all I can say.

When we got back Mike C and Rob S had arrived from HTG on their mountain bikes.

Finally, on Monday I made a return trip to Big Stal with Pru to try and photograph the big stal.

Then it was time for the long drive back to Wellington. Fortunately the traffic was light all the way, and we returned with no trouble at all.

Michael Wood