Maud Val­ley

UTVs are great for ex­plor­ing the back­blocks as Doug Ash­ford found out on a re­cent day-trip to the Maud Val­ley south­west of Nel­son.

NZ4WD - - ADVENTURE - Story and photos by Doug Ash­ford

De­spite hav­ing lived in Nel­son for 25 years, Maud Val­ley was un­known to me, like­wise my mate Bazza. We were for­tu­nate then, that the or­gan­iser of a re­cent trip there, Colin, is part of a fam­ily that has owned land in the area since the 1930s. Maud Val­ley runs through pri­vate land into the Howard Con­ser­va­tion Area be­tween Lake Ro­toiti and Lake Ro­toroa north-west corner of Nel­son Lakes Na­tional Park. A steep-sided Beech for­est val­ley ap­prox­i­mately 10km long was worked over dur­ing gold min­ing ac­tiv­i­ties in the early 1930s with the 24 hectare flat re­worked again with ma­chin­ery from 1967 to 1993. There are signs of the old min­ers’ huts and work­ings all the way up the val­ley with ma­chin­ery relics scat­tered along the val­ley floor. Sev­eral old min­ers’ huts in the area are also now used by hunters and tram­pers. Leav­ing our road ve­hi­cles on Howard Val­ley road we trav­elled in UTVs up Maud Val­ley to an old sawmill build in 1924. This mill still op­er­ates once a year when the owner has a fam­ily day in De­cem­ber. There is also a shed with a planer that was in­stalled in the 1930s. Once Bazza got be­hind the wheel for his first ex­pe­ri­ence driv­ing a UTV there was no re­mov­ing him. Trav­el­ling up the val­ley through Beech forests across the 25 ha grass flat through fur­ther Beech for­est to the end of the track. The track is very rough as it’s of­ten used by the Maud River dur­ing floods, en­try and ex­its are quite sharp and steep due to re­cent floods. At the end of the track is an old gold miner’s hut and a cou­ple of fa­thers with their boys were spend­ing the week­end pos­sum hunt­ing and tramp­ing. Only the brave sleep there. There are plenty of beau­ti­ful camp sites amount the trees, and judg­ing by the camp fire ashes they are well used. Af­ter spend­ing time here we re­traced our steps back to the mill for a late lunch. The af­ter­noon saw us rid­ing via the pri­vate land through mag­nif­i­cent stands of Dou­glas Fir, Larch and Ra­di­ata Pine, stands which would be 50-60 years old. On top of the ridge the owner op­er­ates a por­ta­ble sawmill, trans­port­ing logs with a WW2 GMC 4x6 and (in the shed when we were there) a 1932 Cater­pil­lar D2. On re­turn­ing to Howard Val­ley we trav­elled south and up through TDC For­est to a me­mo­rial for Howard min­ers who lost their lives dur­ing min­ing and the World Wars. Once again a great day had by all.

Bazza in his el­e­ment.

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