Feb 26 2020

Mt Charles, Cape Saunders, Puddingstone Rock, Allans Beach

Published by under Farm,Trampers

No. 99 on old hardcopy list of 113 club tramps. “Mt Charles Mr Neil Farm”

27 km from car-park. Permission from land owners – Sharyn and John Clearwater, 03 478-0274, Sam Neil 03 478-0878, Des Neil 03 4893540, Mr and Mrs McKay 03 478-0279.

Click here to read about Cape Saunders Lighthouse and the two graves

10. 26/2/2020  Allans Beach, Mount Charles and Cape Saunders. M-H Leaders Helen and Phil

Mount Charles (408 metres high)
On a nice 20 plus deg morning, 21 trampers headed towards Allens Beach, this took slightly longer due to road works on the peninsula, but as per quote of Thomas Bracken (1879): “When a visitor arrives at Portobello he will naturally wonder why Australian’s and NZders rush to Europe and America for sightseeing when they can find such beautiful scenes within their own doors”



Photo and Caption Gordon – “Heading off to Mt Charles.”

We were greeted by Mr Neil one of the land owners at the start 10am as we headed off on a couple of good climbs with great views back of Allens Beach and Belmont House, and to the side Wharekakahu (pidgeon island).


Photo and Caption John – “Remote beach before the mist set in.”


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Photo and Caption Phil


Photo and Caption Phil

Morning tea was taken 10.30 ish above one of the nice small beaches.



Photo and Caption John – “Morning tea”

As we found another good nudge we worked around toward (Kaimata) Cape Saunders Lighthouse. A dangerous place to fish as many have been washed off rocks over the years by freak waves. Captain Cook sighted this landmark 25/02/1770 and was named in honour of Admiral Sir Charles Saunders who he had served under in Canada 1759.



Above the lighthouse old founds of one of two old house sites, below a restored picket fenced grave of two children, Ellen(2yrs). Report has it she died from a fire after the two had been playing with matches and Thomas (1yr) who died 3mths later of meningitis they were the children of assistant light keeper Patrick Heneghan. A good spot on a no windy day, very infrequent, as one notes all trees point to the north, like old stooped men.


Photo and Caption John – “Remote graves”



Photo and Caption John – “Family Tragedy.”

After a stop to take in the cliffs and views we continued a further climb to the junction of Cape Saunders Road and Kaimata Road, where we had lunch out of the strong southerly and mist.



Photo and Caption Phil



Photo and Caption John – “Lunch is always with a view.”

The view of Hoopers Inlet, Palmerston on a good day can be seen from spot but not today. Lunch taken, this built up the energy to take on last climb, through misty farm fields on east to make our way to the summit of Mt Charles, Whoo hoo! The views to all parts of Otago can be seen, but not today, in deep mist, group kept in close proximity trusting our leaders, as one could easily get lost. But out of the gloom the peak of Mt Charles appeared. Disappointing that the trig station is damaged and has not been repaired, most sad we could not see a thing further than 3 or so metres in front of us.



Photo and Caption Gordon – “On the top”


Photo and Caption Dave -“Wind blown fuschia hanging on – on the top.”


Photo and Caption Jenni – “One of our very active photographers”

The decent although difficult was made in short time, avoiding the two brown bulls,just another neat tramp in Otago, I hope your time at top was well worthwhile, for first timers it means we have to do it again to take in views.



Photo and Caption Dave – “The mist briefly clears as we go down to the cars then to Nichols’ for well deserved refreshments.”

Thanks to our friendly farmers Clearwaters, McKays and Neils for their access.

Cheers Helen and Phil

9. 22/11/2017. Trampers. Mount Charles. M. Leader: Phil.

Mt Charles – 22 November 2017 – Leader: Phil.

Following a quick rendezvous of 4 vehicles at Macandrew Bay it was follow the leader via Allans Beach Road, with the leader doing a feint turn the wrong way at Hoopers Inlet, just to test the following car drivers, before arriving and parking under the pine and macrocarpa at the end of the road.  There was then a few recounts on the numbers of intrepid trampers as I was reliably informed we had 16 when we left Mosgiel, but now we had 18!  Wow Mt Charles must have a reputation!

So off we set at 10 to 10 back down the road to the gate with ‘closed’ on it; there was a promise of the most well earned morning tea for the year at the stile at the top of the first paddock….this was achieved comfortably by all but clearly the steep start had an affect,

Up, up, and more up. (Helen pic and caption.)

with everyone sitting for a good 20 minutes…maybe it was the views?  This was said to be about ‘halfway up- yeah right!’

We then set off up a variety of knobs and farm tracks, and following the fence lines to ridges and little saddles and then via a track – commented to be the stairway to heaven –  that dissected some remnant native bush (and where the level of craic was very low), before we emerged on a little plateau, and veering left and with the help of some gentlemanly fence lifters to get under the barbed wire arrived and ‘summited’ Mt Charles at 11.30.


Group at the top. (Helen pic and caption.)

On the last part of the ascent we had been accompanied by a herd of inquisitive and very well conditioned cattle, that set about corralling and dividing us before realising we had no barley sugars to give them so off they bashed through the forest. At the summit we were greeted by the mist clearing and revealing 360 degree views, only to be tested by a swarm of bush flies and other flying objects, so after admiring the views and taking the obligatory photos

View from the top. (Helen pic and caption.)

we headed off through the fences and along the ridge to start the descent down the sea side (East) of the mountain. Around half way down the lumpy and steep hillside we found a spot for lunch, where someone had nicely placed boulders and logs for us all to be comfortably seated and take in the surroundings,

Lunch stop. (Margreet pic and caption.)

including a top dressing plane, piloted by Snoopy. The plane  made numerous and continuous sorties along the coast

‘’Snoopy buzzing the team’’ (Phil pic and caption.)

and around the mountain for the duration of the rest of the walk. At about this time the sea mist moved back and the summit was shrouded in….

Gradually we descended and returned along the ‘flat’, parallel with the coast, and then over a small saddle and down to the road end and carparks, where we were warmly met at 1.15 by Jill D and Clive, who having completed 90% of the ascent, returned and undertook a walk along the beach.  Well done folks for the inspiring effort.

We then had sometime at the beach, walking to the headland, dipping toes in the sparkling seas, or just lounging and taking in  the peace and tranquillity, but for Snoopy! Then onto the Mac Café, where as a sign of the season, and in very Mediterranean like conditions,  there were probably more ice creams, and cold drinks consumed  than coffees and tea.

Although the walk was ‘only’ 5.7km it was 403 m up a mountain, and of course 403m down!

This was NZ walking at it’s best; a mountain, 360 degree views of land and sea scapes, and lovely weather followed by a walk on the beach and admiring wildlife, with great company. – Phil

 8. 8/4/2015 Trampers. Mount Charles M.
GPS of route, courtesy Ken.

GPS of route, courtesy Ken. We walked 7km; 2 hrs moving time; 3.1km/hr; climbed 452mtrs; max elev.412mtrs

Having met up with the others at the meeting place in Andy Bay, 6 of us travelled to the end of Allans Beach Rd. where we parked under the pines, & geared up for the climb up Mt. Charles. We walked back along the road for the 3-400m to the stile over the fence at the start of the climb, then it was up, up, & more up!
We stopped just after 10am for morning tea break, then resumed the climb. An hour later we reached the trig on top of Mt. Charles,…

1 At top of Mt. Charles. (Ken pic and caption)

1 At top of Mt. Charles. (Ken pic and caption)

…where we spent some time admiring the view, which was fantastic.

2 View from Mt. Charles, with Harbour Cone on left. (Ken pic and caption)

2 View from Mt. Charles, with Harbour Cone on left. (Ken pic and caption)

4 Allans Beach, & Hoopers Inlet from Mt. Charles. (Ken pic and caption)

4 Allans Beach, & Hoopers Inlet from Mt. Charles. (Ken pic and caption)

We also found the trig station was falling to bits, with all of the bolts securing the stays to the legs missing.

3 looking at he damaged trig. (Ken pic and caption)

3 looking at he damaged trig. (Ken pic and caption)

As there was a bit of a breeze blowing up there, we decided to go down the seaward side, & walk back around that area to the cars. So we set off following sheep trails through the bracken, & Onga Onga, down a steep slope until we were approx halfway down, where we had lunch in a pleasant spot with a great view.

5 Lunch stop with a view. (Ken pic and caption)

5 Lunch stop with a view. (Ken pic and caption)

6 Allans Beach with Sandy Mount in the background

6 Allans Beach with Sandy Mount in the background. (Ken pic and caption)

We then finished the descent,…

7 The clay road down there was our destination for the walk back out. (Ken pic and caption)

7 The clay road down there was our destination for the walk back out. (Ken pic and caption)

…& made our way back past Belmont House out to the cars.
As it was still quite early in the day, we then went out to the beach, where we had to detour around a sleeping sea lion on the track. There were others on the beach also, ignoring the presence of humans.
The trip up Mt. Charles is a serious climb to get to the top, but I think we all enjoyed the experience. And we stopped off at Mac Bay for a coffee & chat before driving back to town. – Ken.

7. 10/8/2011. Trampers. Allans Beach, Belmont, Cape Saunders, Kaimata Road, Puddingstone Rock, return. Medium.

GPS of route from Allans Beach to Puddigstone Rocks, return, courtesy Ken. 13.8 Km. Total metres climbed: 690.

It was a brilliant winter’s day as can be seen from the pics.

Looking South at Allans Beach. (Ken pic and caption). – Sandymount beyond.

Looking north towards on Cape Saunder’s coast. (Ken pic and caption)

Cape Saunders ‘LightHouse’. (Ken pic and caption)

The site of the old Lighthouse Keeper’s house which was vandalised and later destroyed by fire. Site very tidily cleared.

Our intention had been to return via Mount Charles, but an early evening appointment of one of our party indicated a return by the way we had come would be more prudent than risking the – perhaps over-time commitment – of tackling Mount Charles as well. (Note: Making this a summer tramp would lessen such time constraints.) – Ian
6. 11/2/2009. Trampers. Allans Beach, Belmont, Cape Saunders, Kaimata Road, Puddingstone Rock Cape Saunders Road, Mt Charles, round trip. Medium. Leader: Bill

45 minutes’ drive to Alans Beach by Hoopers Inlet. 37.5 km from car-park.
(Click to enlarge thumbnail pics)

Route Map
The trip this time was enhanced by a group from the Christchurch Over Forties Tramping Club joining us for the day. The day was pleasant as we made our way from the Belmont homestead over a ridge or two to our tea break spot with a fine view of a small beach and the Wharekakahu Rock islet.

Down to tea break

Down to tea break

Beach and Whatekakahu Rock Islet at tea break

Beach and Whatekakahu Rock Islet at tea break

A bit of a climb from there brought us to the experience of an abrupt cliff face

A cliff edge

A cliff edge

before climbing a fence line to make our way across to the Cape Saunders road and down to the Matakitaki Point lighthouse.

While there we showed our visitors the ancient grave site of two young children (see information at bottom of this post)

Picket fence grave site

Picket fence grave site

before climbing back up to the Kaimata Road and down to our lunch stop.
click to enlarge

Lunch time

Lunch time

Then it was down a paddock or two to view the seals on the Puddingstone Rock ledge,

Seal and offspring?

Seal and offspring?

Seals frolicking

Seals frolicking

before climbing the road back out to the Cape Saunders Road and along to the NE of Mount Charles to climb through paddock and bush to the trig.

Sandymount from Mount Charles

Sandymount from Mount Charles. Hazel, Angela

Last climb to trig

Last climb to trig

After that it was down the conventional ascent route, much steeper than the one we had climbed, and along to the cars.

5. 23/5/2007 Trampers. Allans Beach, Belmont, Cape Saunders, Kaimata Road, Puddingstone Rock Cape Saunders Road, Mt Charles, round trip. Medium. Leaders: Bill, Pat
Keyhole in rock

Keyhole in rock (31/3/2004)

click to enlarge
Lunch time

Lunch time

4. 29/11/2006. Trampers. Allans Beach, Mount Charles, Cape Saunders. Medium. Leaders: Bill, Pat

click to enlarge

Off-shore islet

Off-shore islet

Surf on Cape Saunders

Surf on Cape Saunders

Cute gate

McLeods’ gate

Victory Beach from Mount Charles

Victory Beach from Mount Charles

Struggling against the wind up Mt Charles Pat, Wendy, Hazel

Struggling against the wind up Mt Charles Doug, Pat, Wendy, Hazel, Glenice.

Cresting Mt Charles. Who? Doug, Ian, Pat, Wendy, Hazel

Cresting Mt Charles. Who? Doug, Wendy, Pat, Hazel, Glenice.

Cautious descent in wind. Pat, Wendy.

Cautious descent in wind. Wind, Glenice, Pat, Hazel, Wendy.

Allans beach from Mt Charles. (Bill pic)

Allans beach and Sandymount from Mt Charles. (Bill pic)

Papanui Inlet, Otago Harbour from Mt Charles.

Papanui Inlet, Otago Harbour from Mt Charles.

3. 7/12/2005. All. Cape Saunders from Allans Beach. Leaders: Bill, Pat, Bob, Nadia
2. 26/1/2005 Mount Charles Hoopers Inlet, Allans Beach. Leaders: Dorothy S, Shirley
Prospect. Before the climb.

Prospect. Before the climb.

Mount Charles summit. Dorothy, Pat.

Mount Charles summit. Dorothy, Pat.


Lunch lee Mt Charles. Peter, Lex, Ian, Dorothy S, Dot B, Ria, Pat Wendy, George, Margaret, Tom

1. 31/3/2004. Trampers. Cape Saunders, Puddingstone Rock. Easy+. Leaders: Bill, Pat
Tea Break. Pat, Molly, Bill, Joyce, Nancy

Tea Break. Pat, Molly, Bill, Joyce, Nancy

Peter, Bob & Bill on edge

Peter, Bob & Bill on edge

Wave surge. Lunch. Margaret, Who? Bev H, Peter. Old grave.

Wave surge. Lunch. Margaret, Who? Bev H, Peter. Old grave.

Keyhole in point.

Keyhole in point.

4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Mt Charles, Cape Saunders, Puddingstone Rock, Allans Beach”

  1.   Carolynon 25 Jan 2011 at 1:09 pm

    I noticed that you have an article about a tramp that included Cape Saunders. I lived at the lighthouse keeper’s house for several months in 1984 and recently wished to show my children around on a brief visit to Dunedin. However, I could not work out how to organise access – I drove past but observed signs indicating private land. I would be pleased if anyone could let me know how I could go about visiting Cape Saunders in future.

  2.   Ianon 25 Jan 2011 at 2:44 pm

    Hi, Carolyn.
    Thank you for your enquiry.
    As you get down to end of the Cape Saunders road, there is indeed a locked gate.
    Phone Sam (and Christine) Neill 478 0878 (house over on Allans Beach Road – his farm comes around the coast from there) to get permission to climb the gate. Their farm is on the market. (Just in case you get someone else answering!)
    However, I think I recollect an ODT report (some 9 months or thereabouts ago, ?) of it being destroyed by fire.
    Best wishes.
    Ian Fleming

  3.   Laurel Dunnon 30 Jan 2011 at 3:44 pm

    I would be interested to have this email passed onto Carolyn. I am Secretary of the Otago Peninsula Museum and Historical Soc, based in Portobello. The Cape Saunders Lighthouse was not returned to Kaipara as indicated above. It is on the Museum grounds. in Portobello. In December 2009 it was discovered that over time the lighthouse was being vandalised – bolts/screws etc being removed – probably hoping to get the roof eventually. The Museum organised to collect the lighthouse and has spent many hours taking off layers of white paint and repainting it. Soon we hope to have displays inside the Lighthouse. If Carolyn has any photos etc – present day ones are fine then we’d love to hear from her.
    Thanks. Laurel

  4.   Ianon 31 Jan 2011 at 10:06 am

    Done, Laurel. Thanks.

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