VK3ARR's SOTA Blog

Ego loqui ad viros super montes

Rimutaka Trig ZL1/WL-054

A trip into New Zealand led to wanting to find a summit around Wellington to activate. I found two to the north east of the city off State Highway 2, both starting from Rimutaka Saddle. The first is along a pylon access track and relatively unmarked, the second is the path to the Rimutaka Trig.

My initial plans were to go to the summit on the access track, but by the time I arrived at the saddle, the cloud base was very low, and my ability to see the path, coupled with leaving the NZTopo maps I’d printed out behind, meant I was no longer comfortable with my journey. Instead, I opted for the easier path up to the top of Rimutaka Trig.

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The Rimutaka Saddle car park map

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Warning – extreme winds.

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Easy sign to find

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The walks available

I met one person coming down, but otherwise, the trip was a non-event, just a 20 minute slog up the track with a few switchbacks until you hit the top of the summit, where there is a bench seat and a trig point.

In order to reduce pack weight, I’d switched my linked dipole over to a smaller arrangement, using SMA connectors and RG-316, but had not had a chance to test it out. Sure enough, at the top of the hill, I couldn’t get a signal out on HF. Later fault tracing proved it was the SMA-to-PL259 adaptor, not the dipole itself.

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The trig

I was forced instead to move to 2m FM, which yielded just two contacts, Warren ZL2AJ who was visiting Wellington himself on family business, and Ted ZL2JTD. Attempts to drum up contacts via the Belmont repeater were unsuccessful, but not due to a lack of trying by people in Wellington. The Rimutakas are shielded from Wellington directly, making it hard for simplex FM contacts.

However, I did get to qualify the summit for Mountain Explorer (VHF) status, and had a good chat with Warren and Ben ZL2BEN on the repeater on the way back down. I headed back, and having lunch in Petone, got a call from Wynne ZL2ATH, who offered to supply me with a dipole, which was much appreciated. We caught up on the foreshore, and I tried the summit Kaukau instead.

That was equally a bust – the wind had picked up by then and I came out onto the plateau and discovered I couldn’t actually walk forwards, the wind was that strong. Realising the universe was telling me something, I headed back down and back to Petone to hand Wynne back his dipole.

All up, no points, but a good bit of climbing and some nice contacts.

20 May 2017 – Flinders Peak – VK3/VC-030

This summit was an adjunct to a longer walk taken from Little River station back to my home in North Geelong – all up, 37km. Joining me on this walk was a work colleague, Alan, who met me at Little River station at about 7:30am. We set off towards the You Yangs, and about an hour later were at the entrance to the park on the eastern side.

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Alan and I at Little River

We took a quick break, then took the Branding Yard track up to the Turntable, and climbed up the summit. There I broke out the 2m HT, and put out some CQ calls. THe plan was make it all happen quickly, and then head down. Instead, I got 3 in the log and a lot of questions. I worked Tony VK3CAT either side of rollover, but it was Glenn VK3YY at Mt Baw Baw that finally got me the 4 contacts and at 160km, was a great way to finish up.

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Alan and I atop Flinders Peak

Once completed, we headed down the summit and out the park’s south entrance (the main one), and walked along Forest Road into Lara. I don’t recommend this approach, but it does end up at Rob’s Bakery, which I certainly recommend.

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Pie number 1 at Rob’s Bakery. Pie number 2 is in the bag.

From there, we walked through the back streets of Lara to Bacchus Marsh Road (having to take a detour when roadworks blocked Heales Road, then down Bacchus Marsh Road to Princes Highway, where we took a sneaky KFC run.

The down the Princes Highway on the eastern side, crossing over at the Ford’s factory, across the railway tracks, and down by North Geelong station. We just missed a train, so Alan walked the kilometre or so home with me and we had a beer, before returning to the station and taking the train back to Little River.

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A nice brew to finish