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Wellington Caving Group

2005-03-05-Nettlebed Through Trip


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This article was first published in SumpThink in April 2005

Nettlebed Through Trip

Blizzard pot revisited.
A Welsh caving friend of mine from way back was coming to NZ in early march, Martyn had a week here en route to Australia and he was determined to do a Nettlebed through trip. Of course I offered my services but said that if anyone younger and faster should come forward as a guide I would wimp out. Emails bounced back and forth and it became apparent that I was it, bugger.

Martyn arrived on the 1st. and two other UK cavers, Richard and Jim arrived on the 2nd. and we hustled them straight on to the ferry and drove to Oz and Debbie's place in Nelson to sleep off their jet-lag in Oz's basement.

Next day after buying provisions we drove to Takaka hill and stopped to look at the Riwaka resurgence.There we were just in time to meet up with two other UK cave divers, Martin Groves and Joel Corrigan who had just come out after some days spent pushing beyond the sumps.We kiwis were being greatly outnumbered by the Welsh. Another interesting visitor to the hut was Caveman Cliff from Florida who was (and probably still is) driving around in a van full of air cylinders and looking for a cave sump that would take him into 'the Takaka valley aquifer'. This sump had to be previously undived and able to drive to within 2 metres of it.

Next Morning we set off early and had a second breakfast in Mt. Arthur hut, Jim and Richard being mere striplings of 40 or so we were pleased to give them the ropes to carry, actually they both earn their living as professional abseillers so they know how to carry ropes. The toil up the ridge and back down to Blizzard was as knackering as I remembered and once underground the cave seemed more or less right with only a few dubious moments. Jim would rig the pitches with Judith's 35m rope and Richard would follow with Mike Wood's 50m of 9mm rope tucked in the bottom of his pack, hopefully never to be used. I brought up the rear paying out a 3mm line to retrieve the rope and, much to my surprise it worked every time.

So far all had gone well, I bored them with the tale of how 'Old joke inlet' got its name and soon we were down the bottom of 'Goodbye Yellow brick road' Where things began to slow a bit in the Funkhole. Robert and Barry had remarked on several tight parts in the funkhole but my selective memory didn't recall any especially small bits. They were there all right and Jim being the biggest of the party was reduced to stripping three times while Martyn went first to set up his camera. As we ate our meals and climbed into our bags at Salvation hall the kindest opinion was "what an unrelenting cave". Never mind we would get up early in the morning and Martyn could take lots of photos in the pretty bits.

I woke at 6am and put in my contact lenses and decided to wait and see if anyone would bring me a cup of tea. When I woke again it was 9 o'clock, shit, Debbie was intending to meet us at the Pearse road end, we'd better get a move on. Spirits picked up in the lower part of the cave, this was pretty and there were parts where you could walk, on the flat!

I was quietly fretting about the Hinkle horn honking holes, if Jim got wet in the ducks and then had to strip he could get hypothermic in short order. As it happened the ducks were completely dry and anyway he shot through with all his gear on as Rob Spillard apparently did on an earlier WCG trip. The guys were right, the Funkhole is much tighter than HHHHoles.

Out into a beautiful, warm, green afternoon, Richard was already working on the article, he being only 39 years old he had the title ready, 30s 40s 50s and 60s. as a reward we sent him and Jim off to run down the Pearse and relieve Debbie, as soon as they had gone Martyn and I sat down and brewed the billy and admired the resurgence. then wombled on down to where Debs was waiting with another cup of tea. All in all a mighty trip, they are impressed with NZ and very impressed with Nettlebed but will not be doing another through trip!

On the way back to Nelson a few days later we called into Hot Mommas in Motueka, as you do, and who should be there but Marcus, Phil Round and JANE, with about 15 American cavers.

Party members
Richard Hill, Jim Dovey, Martyn Farr, Mike Coburn (scribe)