The 'Alpine' in the club's name comes from the club founders' passion for sub-alpine plants. Established in 1961, the Golden Bay Alpine & Tramping Club originated from some highly motivated and enthusiastic folks. The main driving force came form local couple Frank & Berna Soper, both of whom were keen botanists. Frank and Berna took action and lobbied the government of the day to turn what was then Crown Land into protected land, which became the North West Nelson Conservation Park. This area has over the years grown to become Kahurangi National Park which has within it the Tasman Wilderness Area and the North West Nelson Conservation Park. The club and the local community lost Berna this year (2015), she is dearly missed.
In 1962 the Boulder Lake Hut was built by the club and it still stands today as the wood shed for the upgraded DOC hut. When the original hut was built, the building team walked in . The building supplies and other provisionals were dropped in by a skilled bush pilot Tex Smith who was flying a De Havilland 89B Dominie by the name of Tara. Adelaide Tarn Hut was built by the club in the mid 1960's.
Boulder Lake Hut
De Havilland 89B Dominie (Tara)
Adelaide Tarn Hut
The Lonely Lake Hut was built in the early 1970's. In the late 1970's the club welcomed a school teacher by the name of Pat Timings who took the helm as president, secretary and treasurer. Pat took Venturers Scouts on monthly tramping trips. Pat later went on to become the club's Commodore as the organiser of sea kayak trips. We're probably the only tramping club which has offered sea kayak trips. Pat gave up this role earlier this year (2015), and was made a life member of the club.
Lonely Lake Hut
In the 1980's Derry Kingston was secretary and treasurer. Derry offered tramping trips every two weeks. Derry later started a separate group called 'The Wednesday Walkers' which go on day walks all over Golden Bay. This has been such a success that it has become its own entity. Derry has probably walked the Heaphy Track more than any tramper as he offers a car relocation service for people wanting to walk the Heaphy Track. Derry has subsequently been given the honour of Life Membership of the club.
The Heaphy Track
In the 1990's Paul Kilgour became the club captain and the club had trips planned for each week. Paul has changed his role to being the club historian. Paul is one of the most prolific trampers in the club; if there is somewhere to walk Paul has probably been there. In recognition of Paul's extensive service to the club and outgoing enthusiasm in promoting tramping in general, he was awarded Life Membership in 2017.
The club has recently made history by building a tent camp at the western head of Lake Stanley (look for a sign marking the turn-off close to where the track crosses the Stanley river). This project was spear headed by our dedicated, former club president John Pemberton with support from our local DOC office, FMC, fellow club members, and volunteers. The new tent camp was built in honour of the club founders Frank and Berna Soper.
Soper Shelter tent camp (location marked in red)
Letter from former president, John Pemberton
Soper Shelter Opening – a big Thank You!
We were blessed with a blue sky as 39 trampers gathered at the head of Lake Stanley last Saturday to open Soper Shelter, the new tent camp built by the Golden Bay Alpine & Tramping Club in partnership with DOC. Frank Soper spoke: “... I am overwhelmed by what has been going on here, but knowing the people involved not in the least surprised. ... my love affair with the mountains has always been its own reward but for the sake of my late wife I would be honoured if we were to be remembered here.”
Following a working party in February to prepare the site, weather took the build to the wire! The team flew in on Monday and Soper Shelter was ready in just 5 days for the opening. As President of GBATC, I was privileged to lead the project, greatly assisted by my wife Jocelyn Tracey and other club members. Andrew Lamason, local head of DOC, tenaciously fought to have the project accepted. But the real heroes were the dynamic trio of John Taylor, Tony Hitchcock and Wayne Sixtus who with huge skills, energy and passion crafted an authentic replica of an old 1930’s tent camp. Piers Maclaren and I created furniture and built an elegant toilet. Alec Milne, Joe Hambrook and John Mason contributed significantly and Jocelyn, with fire and camp ovens, fed the blokes splendidly.
The team worked from dawn to dusk and beyond. We were a happy group and we are all immensely proud of what we have created. I am enormously grateful to all the people who contributed time, effort and money and I hope that many readers of this letter will visit and enjoy Soper Shelter.
John Pemberton, President GBATC April 2016
Click on the buttons below to open pages of images of Soper Shelter