Showing posts with label Arthur's Pass. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Arthur's Pass. Show all posts

Sunday, 24 November 2019

New hut to be built near old Casey Hut site in Arthur's Pass NP.... Casey Hut to begin build from early 2020...

Fantastic news for Canterbury trampers, the long overdue replacement for Casey Hut will start its build process in early 2020. The original Casey Hut burnt to the ground in late 2015 and DOC Arthur's Pass did not have the finances to build a new hut. 

Casey Hut No. 1, Arthur's Pass NP circa 2014....

Casey Hut No. 1 was a Lockwood kit set design from the 1970's so lots of varnished wood of my favorite types of back-country hut. Unfortunately all that varnish means these go up like a fire starter if sparks or embers get loose inside.

Another photo of the old Casey Hut No. 1, Poulter Valley

The consensus at the time was someone forgot to shut the firebox fully or they left hot ashes in a bucket which tipped over and caught fire.

The Casey Hut site after the fire which destroyed the hut

The money for the new hut ($250 000) was a donation from some local trampers...all I can say is you are bloody legends!!!

The beers are on Jon if I ever run into you somewhere......

The new hut will be a 12 person version with an integrated cooking shelter for the adjacent campsite. 

I will be visiting the hut when it is finished as I have long wanted to have another go at the Casey-Binser Circuit Track and I would love to bag the six huts further up the Poulter Valley. 

Keep an eye out for updates....

Saturday, 1 June 2019

Using O'Malleys Track to access the Waimakiriri River Valley

A safer way to access the Upper Waimakiriri River Valley...

I thought I would take a look at O'Malleys Track, this is a high water flood track from near the Bealey Bridge to Turkey Flats in the mid Waimakiriri River area. The Waimakiriri River Valley has a multitude of good tramping and was the original home territory of the tramping and climbing clubs based in Christchurch. 

Bealey Bridge from SH73 on the edge of Arthur's Pass National Park

O'Malleys Track is not that long...3 odd kilometers but it does provide a safer way to access the Waimakiriri River Valley when a crossing of the main river is impossible.

The Upper Waimakiriri River.....

A word of caution though...many of the side streams that feed into the Waimakiriri River have huge catchments. If there is any significant amount of rain you will not be able to get further than the Anti Crow River as none of the side streams are bridged. 

The Anti-Crow River...cannot be crossed in moderate to heavy rain!!!

Other rivers you need to cross in this valley are the Greenlaw and Harper Creeks and there is a mandatory crossing of a braid of the Waimakiriri a kilometer past the Anti Crow River. All will be impassible in heavy rain.

Walking O'Malleys Track

O'Malleys Track starts from a car-park right next to the eastern end of Bealey Bridge on the edge of Arthur's Pass National Park. Look for the DOC sign visible from the road right next to the bridge, the car-park can be a bit difficult to access if coming from Arthur's Pass township. 

Map: O'Malleys Track, Arthur's Pass National Park

O'Malleys Track is a DOC maintained flood track for use when it is impossible to cross the main braid of the Waimakiriri River.

The main crossing point of the Waimakiriri River at Klondyke Corner

The track climbs and then sidles along the flank of Bealey Spur before dropping back down to Turkey Flat at its far end. There is a picnic table and a set of toilets at the Car-park so make use of them if required as there are no facilities along the track. Also make sure you have water as there are no potable water sources along the track.

The car-park at the start of O'Malleys Track, near Bealey Bridge

Start of O'Malleys Track at the Bealey Bridge car-park

The quality of your experience will depend on when DOC last cleared the track. A DOC work crew normally run down the track at the end of winter and clear any dead-fall trees and larger debris. Generally the track is clear and easy to walk. 

On O'Malleys Track:climbing the initial slope on the side of Bealey Spur

A view of Klondyke Corner from on O'Malleys Track

Track quality is about usual for Arthur's Pass...fare to middling!!! They have a minimal impact regime here so the tracks tend to be a bit rougher than other National Parks. There are also a lot less bridges in this area...DOC Arthurs Pass only bridge the deepest and most dangerous of the rivers. 

On O'Malleys Track: various track types....through beech forest

...climbing through regenerating Pole Beech, O'Malleys Track

...and open areas of bush and scrub on O'Malleys Track:

When you get about two kilometers along the track you can see over the valley to the the car park and campsite at Klondyke Corner. This is the place most people cross the main braid of the Waimakiriri River as the river is wider and hence more shallow at that point.

View of the Waimakiriri River Valley from the Klondyke Corner car park

View to the Klondyke Corner car-park...there is a campsite near there

You can also see the extensive swamp areas that border the bottom edge of Bealey Spur..there are a number of smaller braids of the river along this side of the valley feeding into swampland. 

Swampy areas border the edge of Bealey Spur from O'Malleys Track:

There is one potentially problematic stream to cross about halfway along the track. This side stream comes down from the tarns on the top of Bealey Spur and normally runs very low. I did notice that there was flood debris around the trees on both banks approximately a meter higher than the stream bed. This leads me to believe that this stream could be at least a meter high in heavy rainfall and therefore dangerous. 

If you arrive here to find it running high turn around and go back...

Potentially dangerous side stream about halfway along O'Malleys Track:

As you approach the end of the track the trees start to thin out so you see down to the river and out onto Turkey Flat. When you reach these lookouts you are about 20-30 minutes from the end of the track.

View of the Waimakiriri River through silver beech, O'Malleys Track:

A braid of the Waimakiriri River from O'Malleys Track, Arthur's Pass NP

Descending down to Turkey Flat at the western end of O'Malleys Track:

Finally after about two hours the track will deposit you onto Turkey Flat....from here it is simply a matter of following the very easy track across the grasslands to whatever destination you are visiting. 

View of the Waimakiriri River Valley from near the end of  O'Malleys Track

View of the Mt Bealey Massif from on O'Malleys Track

On O'Malleys Track: the end of the track at Turkey Flats

To return to SH 73 simply backtrack and follow the same track back to the car park. 

Where to from here?

There are a number of different places you can access from the edge of Turkey Flat at the end of O'Malleys Track. Again most of these locations can only be accessed if the rivers are low so do not come venturing up here if it has been or is raining.

Almost at Turkey Flat with a view of the Waimakiriri River Valley

The first destination is Jordan Stream the first major river you strike, it runs down the middle of Turkey Flat and empties into the Waimakiriri River near Klondyke corner. If you head up Jordan Stream there is a route over Jordan Saddle into the Avoca River catchment. There are many huts in this catchment and great opportunities for hunting and remote tramping. 

Jordan Stream and the route to Jordan Saddle and hence to the Avoca Valley

You can continue off the end of O'Malleys Track and cross the Turkey Flat grasslands. This is an enormous river fan draining Jordan Stream and is approximately five kilometers from one side to the other.The track skirts along the bush edge on the western end of the flats to eventually emerge next to Anti Crow Hut.

Why is it called Turkey Flat? I have no idea because Turkeys are an exotic import into New Zealand and there were none here when the area was first surveyed....

Crossing the grasslands of Turkey Flat, Arthur's Pass National Park

Anti Crow Hut is a destination as well as a way point. It is a nicely maintained NZFS six bunk hut but most people will not stay as it is simply a point they pass on their way to the Upper Waimakiriri Valley. 

It is a great pity more people do not stay here as it is one of the few largely unchanged 'six bunkers' left in Arthur's Pass NP. It has some gorgeous views out to the Crow Valley, Waimakiriri River, Klondyke Corner and the mountains of the Bealey Massif. 

Anti Crow Hut.....classic NZFS 6 bunk hut

The Upper Waimakiriri River Valley is very beautiful with the aqua blue of the river, deep green bush and grey of the riverbed and mountains intermingling. Great views of the surrounding mountain peaks some of which are +2000 meters high. In the summer there are plenty of awesome camping spots on the river flats but don't camp on the islands or you may awake to find yourself marooned. 

The beautiful Upper Waimakiriri Valley 

Another location you can visit in the upper Waimakiriri Valley is Carrington Hut on the confluence of the Waimakiriri and White Rivers. It was built in the late 1970's when this area was still the focus of tramping in the park. From here you can access the Harmon Pass Route to the Taipo River Valley, Three Passes Route, Waimakiriri Falls Track, Waimakiriri Col Route and Barker Hut. 

The hut is well used but the two times I have been here it was only 1/3 to 1/2 full because it is so large. 

Carrington Hut....36 bunks, two dining areas, beautiful location

So that is O'Malleys Track and the places you can visit by using the track, good tramping everyone!!!

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Short Walk: the Arthur's Pass Historic Walk

A walk through history in Arthur's Pass Village

The Arthur's Pass Historic Walk is a 1.5 hour journey around the village, it starts at Glasgow Bridge behind the Chapel of the Snows and takes in many of the notable landmarks in this historic settlement. The walk consists of a series of panels with photographs of the area in earlier times and some information about the locations significance.

 The written information below is from the official pamphlet for the Arthurs Pass Historic Walk from the website.The photos are mine from numerous trips to Arthur's Pass over the last decade.

Following the stops on the Historic Walking Track

The Arthur's Pass Historic Walk was originally developed to interpret the story of the village using historical photographs. As you walk to plaque 1, you are skirting mountain-beech/tawhairauriki forest, which cloaks this entire valley up to the bush line.

Arthur's Pass National Park logo

1. Glasgow Bridge 

The main road once crossed Avalanche Creek here. The old bridge can be seen on the plaque photo. The numerous buildings shown, which were associated with the railway and tunnel construction, have been demolished.

Arthur's Pass Historic Walk: Glasgow Bridge

The foundations of the original bridge are still in place next to Glasgow Bridge, named after Melville James Pitt Glasgow, a mountaineer who was involved with the building of the Arthur’s Pass Chapel of the Snows.

Glasgow Bridge site: note bridge support larger than current bridge

Visitors are welcome to enter the interdenominational chapel. Just after the bridge, a short detour to the left leads to a platform overlooking a waterfall on Avalanche Creek. 

The lovely interdenominational church at Arthur's Pass Village

View up Avalanche creek from inside the Arthur's Pass Chapel of the snows

The waterfall is often floodlit at night. Notice how the gap in the beech-forest canopy and the humidity from the falls and stream allow a variety of stream side shrubs, ferns and mosses to thrive here.

Arthur's Pass Chapel of the Snows from up the Millennial walk next to Avalanche Creek

2. Brake’s store 

Jack Brake was the first storekeeper in Arthur’s Pass during the busy tunnel construction days. The YHA hostel now occupies the original site of Brake’s store. The store catered for most of the day-to-day needs of the tunnellers, their families and the travelling public. Meat, groceries, hardware, medicines, coal, firearms, clothing and postage stamps were among the goods sold.

Brakes Store site is now the home of the YHA hostel in Arthur's Pass Village on the right side of SH73

In 1942 Brake moved across to the site of the present day store and tearooms, originally a five-room railway engineer’s house. Jack Brake’s son Brian achieved international fame as a photographer.

The current Cafe and General Store in Arthur's Pass, once the site of Brakes second store

3. Coberger’s shop

 Oscar A Coberger came to Arthur’s Pass in 1928 as an alpine guide. He established an alpine sports depot in this building and provided equipment and service to trampers, climbers and skiers for about 50 years. This building is now home to the Wobbly Kea CafĂ©.

The plaque on the outside of Cobergers Shop: aka the Wobbly Kea Cafe

Cobergers Shop is now the Wobbly Kea Cafe, Arthur's Pass

Oscar brought with him from Germany an enthusiasm for skiing, at a time when many visitors to Arthur’s Pass were taking up the sport. In 1929 the Christchurch Ski Club (now Temple Basin Ski Club) was formed. Development of Temple Basin commenced in 1933 with the building of a hut. A ski tow, one of the first in New Zealand, was installed in 1948.

Mt Temple with the ski-field to right of the rounded slope from the Otira Valley

Close-up of the buildings at the Temple Basin ski-field from Otira Valley

4. Tunnellers’ cottages main street Bealey Flat 1910

 Tunnellers’ huts dating from 1908 still remain on both sides of the main road. These originally unlined dwellings were sold at the completion of the tunnel in 1923 and are now privately owned as holiday cottages.

Old tunnellers huts at the western edge of Arthur's Pass Village

The large building on the left-hand side of the plaque photo is the old schoolhouse, used during the tunnelling days. It is interesting to note the different names the village has been called over the years—Camping Flat, McLean’s Town, Bealey Flat, as well as Arthur’s Pass.

The old school building on the Arthur's Pass Historic Walk

The walk to plaque 5 takes you through the car park for the Devils Punchbowl Falls. Before you enter the beech forest 100 m further on, look around you for clues to the valley’s glacial past. Notice how the falls plunge out of a hanging valley, and how the forested fronts of the ridges are truncated and smoothed out.

Punchbowl Falls coming from a classic hanging valley, Arthur's Pass NP

5. Bealey Swing-bridge 

The Arthur’s Pass area has been popular with sightseers and visitors for a long time. The most popular walk is to the Devils Punchbowl Falls (131 m). The present bridge is the most recent of several used to take visitors to the falls. Floods in the Bealey River have carried earlier bridges away. In 1962 the flood waters washed away a cottage at the back of the Chalet Restaurant.

Information board about the Bealey swing-bridge and Arthur Dobson

The fixed bridge crossing the Bealey River, Arthur's Pass Historic Walk
The increasing use of Arthur’s Pass, especially at the time of the first train excursions around 1924, coincided with damage to the native vegetation by enthusiastic plant gatherers. Botanist Leonard Cockayne led a campaign to set aside land around Arthur’s Pass for National Park purposes in 1901. Concerned people pressured the government to further protect and reserve the land. In  1929, 48,600 hectares (120,000 acres) were gazetted as national park. Progressive additions have been made and the park now covers 114,839 hectares (283,652 acres).

6. Punchbowl power-station site 

This is the site of the power house which was built in 1909 to generate electricity for the construction of the rail tunnel. Power was needed for lighting, ventilation, air compressors, and for pumping water out of the tunnel.

Turn off too the old power station for the Arthur's Pass Historic Walk

A long view of the whole Otira tunnel power station site, Arthur's Pass Historic Walk

Arthur's Pass Historic Walk: the plaque for the old power station

The concrete foundations were for generators driven by Pelton wheels. The water to drive the wheels was piped from the top of Devils Punchbowl Falls through tunnels and pen-stocks down the steep hill next to the falls.

Arthur's Pass Historic Walk: base foundation for the Pelton wheels at the power station

Arthur's Pass Historic Walk: base foundation for the Pelton wheels at the power station site

Part of the pipe line and tunnel can still be seen 20 minutes up Mt Aicken Track. The power house was removed in 1929.

7. Avalanche Creek and main road Arthur’s Pass 1917

 An interesting comparison can be made between the main road in 1917 and today. The road level has been raised and most of the tunnel workers’ huts removed, but some, on the right-hand side, remain. Part of the large building on the left-hand side was originally a dining hall for unmarried tunnel and railway workers.

Avalanche Creek running down towards SH73 through Arthur's Pass
Guy Butler bought it and enlarged it by adding part of the old Otira Schoolhouse before opening it as a guest house in 1923. In 1969 the building was developed as an Outdoor Education Centre for use by school groups.

Arthur's Pass Historic Walk: the Outdoor Education Centre

8. Arthur’s Pass to Otira rail tunnel

 The tunnel is 8.5 km long and is on a gradient down to Otira of 1 in 33, a fall of 278 m. It was drilled from both sides, the first shot being fired from the Otira end in 1908. When the two headings met in 1918, the alignment and levels were accurate to within 3 cm.

Arthur's Pass Historic Walk: the plaque near the Otira Tunnel entrance

Rail bridge over the Bealey River, Otira Tunnel opening

World War I, contract problems, high labour turnover and harsh weather conditions meant that the tunnel did not open for rail traffic until 1923. 

Close view of the Otira Tunnel portal, Arthur's Pass Historic Walk
The turntable nearby was built to replace the original one near the engine shed. It had to be long enough to take the large Kb-class steam locomotives. These were, in their day, the most powerful locomotives in New Zealand.

The locomotive turntable at Arthur's Pass rail yards

One of the old steam locomotives on a run to Arthur's Pass back in 2016

9. Arthur Pass Railway Station

 The first railway station complete with refreshments and dining rooms was constructed in Arthur’s Pass when the line reached here from Springfield in 1915. Two brass plaques at the station were among those placed by the Institute of Professional Engineers of New Zealand to mark 150 years of New Zealand engineering. They commemorate the construction of the Midland Line and the drilling of the Otira Tunnel.

Arthur's Pass Historic Walk: the Arthur's Pass train station
The present station was built in 1966 to replace the previous one which burnt down. Steam trains were replaced by diesel locomotives in the late 1960's.

Historic walk plaque on the outside of the Arthur's Pass train station

National Park sign at Arthur's Pass rail station, Mt Bealey/Avalanche Peak in background

An historical mural inside the waiting room, depicting attractions along the highway, should not be missed. The railway yards were built up with spoil excavated from the tunnel. The subway floor is on the original level of the yards.

Arthur's Pass train station...the mural they are talking about

Painting of an electric train leaving Otira Tunnel, Arthur's Pass train station

Painting of prospectors in the Otira Gorge, Arthur's Pass Railway station

10. Arthur’s Pass to Otira coaching link

 Before the advent of the railway, the 274 km horse-drawn coach journey from Christchurch to Hokitika took 36 hours, including an overnight stop at Bealey. As the railway advanced eastward and westward, coaches transported passengers between the rail-heads, over Arthur’s Pass, until the tunnel was opened in 1923.

Arthur's Pass Historic Walk: the coaching link plaque

This trip was exhilarating, sometimes dangerous, and the weather was often miserable. The Cobb and Co-type mail coaches were licensed to carry up to 17 passengers. On steep sections of the road, passengers were asked to assist the horses by getting out of the coach and walking. The average working life of a horse on this section of road was 18 months. Accounts of accidents are common but there were remarkably few fatal incidents during the 57 years that the coaches linked Canterbury and Westland.

The Coaching links plaque outside the Arthur's Pass railway station

You can see one of the original coaches at the Arthur’s Pass Visitor Centre. On the knob just to the south of this plaque are the remains of one of the concrete ‘monuments’ from which surveying for the tunnel was done.

The Cob and Co stage coach in the Arthur's Pass Visitors Centre

11. Warden of the Snows 

Appointed to Arthur’s Pass in 1950 as one of the first full time professional rangers in the country, Ray Cleland set new standards in conservation and recreation. Ray made the park more accessible and enjoyable for visitors, creating the Bridal Veil Track, and building six back-country huts. He was instrumental in the development of the 48-bunk youth hostel and the Chapel of the Snows.

Photo of Ray Cleland working on the National Park stone, Arthur's Pass

Ray Clelands stone marker next to the Arthur's Pass railway subway

He shared his passion for nature with the park visitors, creating an alpine garden and giving evening talks. In 1958 he became supervisor of all national parks—a leader whose influence is still felt today. Ray’s rock has been resurrected in Arthur’s Pass to acknowledge his contribution to the management of our national parks.