We often holiday in Golden Bay, and on this year’s trip I hoped to make the first SOTA activation in the Tasman region. My first attempt two days earlier on Cave Point ZL3/TM-283 resulted only in a lot of cuts and scratches from impenetrable scrub and gorse. Cobb Ridge looked easier on the map: only about an hour walk, great views and 4 points. Let’s go!

The drive in from Upper Takaka along Cobb Valley Road and then Cobb Dam Road requires care. It is narrow and winding, and you can’t be sure that oncoming traffic will be as careful as you. It takes about 20 minutes on asphalt to Cobb powerhouse, and another 20 minutes from there on metal to the top of the road, where there is a car park and small information kiosk with interesting facts about the building of the power scheme. The Cobb Ridge Track starts here.

Track start

The track is easy, through grass, scrub and the occasional patch of trees. There are good views to Mt Arthur, the Tablelands and Tasman Mountains. After about an hour a junction with a track to Asbestos Cottage is reached, I calculated this to be within the activation zone of ZL3/TM-152. We stopped here, had lunch and got set up.

Track junction, close enough to summit

Band conditions were not good. I was unable to self-spot and struggled for contacts. John ZL1BYZ and Gerard VK2IO got me started, but then UTC rollover came around and I had to start again. Ron ZL4RMF in Dunedin thankfully called, then John and Gerard again, but I still needed one more. Finally, Roger ZL2RX in Nelson called and saved the day.

ZL3/TM-152 Cobb Ridge

Height: 1154m ASL
Directions: From the car park at the top of Cobb Dam Road, follow the marked track SW towards Peat Flat
Time to summit: 1 hour walk, only 100m height gain
Summit marker: None. Near junction of Cobb Ridge track and unmaintained track to Asbestos Cottage
Land access permission: Not required, Kahurangi National Park
Repeater access: Not tested
Cellphone access: Vodafone/2degrees marginal, intermittent along track
Map: NZ Topo Map
More information: sota.org.uk