Mount Tapuae-o-Uenuku couple honoured by tramping club

Mount Tapuae-o-Uenuku is the highest mountain in New Zealand outside the main ranges of the Southern Alps.
SCOTT HAMMOND/FAIRFAX NZ

Mount Tapuae-o-Uenuku is the highest mountain in New Zealand outside the main ranges of the Southern Alps.

Starting a four-day hike up one of the nation's tallest mountains is a challenge in itself.

But to walk along the river when there is another well-maintained track on private property is an unwelcome opening to the uphill slog up Mount Tapuae-o-Uenuku.

Thankfully for trampers around the world, Alan and Bev Pitts, at Gladstone Station, are more than welcoming to prospective mountaineers looking to climb the 2800-plus metres.

Gladstone Station owners Alan and Bev Pitts have been honoured by the Marlborough Tramping Club with a portrait of their ...
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Gladstone Station owners Alan and Bev Pitts have been honoured by the Marlborough Tramping Club with a portrait of their property by Marlborough artist Graham Taylor.

The couple, whose property is 63 kilometres southwest of Seddon, allow trampers to park at their property and access the trek through their farm, with the 45-minute shortcut bypassing the need to follow the river.

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The couple have been helping trampers for years, and were honoured by the Marlborough Tramping Club and a local artist for their efforts.

Marlborough painter Graham Taylor launched his latest series of oil paintings about the mountain and surrounding valley last week.

The Pitts were honoured by the artist with a painting of Gladstone Station for their contribution to the tramping community.

Marlborough Tramping Club captain Mary Jobberns says the Pitts have overseen Gladstone Downs and the Hodder Hut for a long time and looked out for trampers who crossed their property.

"They always give information on river conditions, weather conditions and they're just really helpful," she said.

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The Marlborough Tramping Club owned the Hodder Huts, two huts for trampers to camp in on the mountain.

The money spent to stay in the huts goes to the club, and Mary says the huts would not make any money if the Pitts were not so generous.

"If we didn't have the Pitts allowing people to go over their property and give out the information to trampers it would be a whole different ball game," she says.

As a sign of the club's appreciation, the Pitts were made honorary members last year.

Kelly Pitts says her parents-in-law do a lot for the climbers who are aiming to tackle the mountain.

"It makes the start of the track a bit easier," she said.

"They would have every right to say that no-one can walk on their land, but it would be silly," she says.

Taylor's series of oil paintings from the Awatere Valley will remain on display at the Marlborough Gallery at 204 High Street, Blenheim, until March 26.

 - The Marlborough Express

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