Showing posts with label O'Malleys Track. Show all posts
Showing posts with label O'Malleys Track. Show all posts

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, 4 October 2015

Anti Crow Hut Tramp: 3rd October 2015

Tramping in the Upper Waimakariri Valley

My first tramp of the 2015/16 summer season is a jaunt into Anti Crow Hut towards the head of the Waimakiriri River. I am looking to go further up valley; visit Carrington Hut and its environs so this is a bit of a recce trip.The track in is easy walking, although tiring as you are walking on gravel fan's for most of the time.

Crow Valley, Mt Rolleston from Turkey Flat

Heading to Anti Crow Hut

It is surprising but I have never been up to the head of the Waimakiriri before, even though it is considered by many as the spiritual home of Canterbury climbing and tramping. The old Carrington Hut was one of the first trampers hut built by the CTC way back in the 1890's.

Back in the 1960's-70-80's the upper valley would have been full of climbers and trampers who came up on the Friday night train. They would be making for places like Carrington Hut, Mt Rolleston, Waimakariri Falls the Three Passes tramp and the Upper Rakaia river.

It is much quieter these days.

Sunrise from Porters Pass on SH 73

SH73: On the road to Arthurs Pass

My original idea was to cross the Waimakiriri from the car-park at Klondyke Corner and walk up to the hut using the standard route to Carrington Hut. The river was high, there has been a lot of snow this year and the water levels are still too deep and swift to allow individual crossings of the river.

Instead I used O'Malleys Track which is the name for the flood track running along the bottom of Bealey Spur.

From SH 73 to Anti Crow Hut via Turkey Flat
Don't park your car at this car park overnight, it is the worst spot in Arthurs Pass NP for car thefts & break-ins. It is fine for a day trip as you are back before dark, which is when most break ins occur.

O'Malleys Track car park, Arthurs Pass NP

Start of O'Malleys Track to the Waimakariri Valley
The track starts off by climbing up high to get above a gorge running down this side of Bealey Spur, total height gained would be 80 meters then you sidle the side of the spur for about 45 minutes - 2 kilometres.

O'Malleys Track: Initial climb to sidle track (about 80 meters)
There are occasional views out across the river towards Klondyke Corner on the valley flats opposite.

Klondyke Corner from the O'Malleys Track
Initially the track is benched with a nice camber and surface, this quickly degenerates into your  standard DOC back country track. There is a bit of windfall on the track, no doubt damage caused by the heavy winter storms earlier this year.

O'Malleys Track: Initial sections are benched...

Then turn into a mud scramble!
You can just make out a couple of camper vans on the far bank of the river, this is the access point if you want to attempt a crossing of the Waimakariri River. It saves about an hour but is much more dangerous than just walking along the flood track. Literally dozens of people have drowned in the Upper is not to be trifled with.

Tourists camping at Klondyke Corner, from O'Malleys Track
After about 45 minutes you get close to the end of the sidle, and start heading down to Turkey Flats.

Approaching Birch Nook on O'Malleys Track
Below is the only significant side stream you cross on this track, doesn't look like much really. Then you notice the piles of drift wood debris around the trees near the river banks. I measured one, it was up to my knee so about 50 cm deep on the river bank which is 70-80 cm above the stream bed.
That's waist deep water on me, and I'm not short!

Only major stream that must be crossed, note flood debris!
Once you get to the end of the flood track the upper valley opens up before you.

O'Malleys Track: Heading down onto Turkey Flat
Turkey Flat is a large debris fan from Jordan Stream, it takes about an hour to walk across it mainly due to the gravel you are walking on for most of that time. It is big lumpy stuff brought down by the streams in the area. It is awkward to walk on and you keep wobbling around.

Mt Bealey across the Waimakiriri valley

View back to Bealey Spur and O'Malleys Track
Jordan Stream is a vast expanse of gravel, the main river bed is about a kilometre across, totally bone dry. I would imagine that when a good olde Nor' Wester starts bucketing down it soon fills to the brim, there is no covering vegetation so it must get washed away regularly by all the water.

View up Jordan Stream from stream bed

Looking West to Mt Stewart and headwaters from Jordan Stream
The further you walk the better the views of the surrounding mountains, Crow Valley starts to open up as you get closer to the hut.

Waimakariri Valley: Anti Crow Hut is over the spur to left

View of Mt Stewart, Crow Valley from Waimakariri Valley
The final part of the route is a short track over a bush spur, when the river is low you can forgo the pleasures of the track and just walk up the dry river bed. Be aware there is a bit of a hairy down climb right at the end of the track, not high just difficult.

Anti Crow Hut: climbing over last spur

Track heading down to Anti Crow Flat
Anti Crow Hut is a classic ex NZFS six bunker, it is in a nice location sited in a bush finger with expansive views of the valley. I believe this is the second hut on the site, being built in 1960 to replace an even older hut. DOC have obviously been in to do some upkeep as the hut was looking in excellent condition.

Anti Crow Hut (1960)

Anti Crow Hut: come on in folks.....
It has a new coat of paint outside and is fairly tidy inside, 6 bunks but you could probably get another 4-6 people in on the flood if needed. Most visitors are people on day tramps, mountain runners and climbers/trampers on their way to/from Carrington Hut and the Three Passes Route.
 I was the first person to visit the hut since the 5th September.

Interior of Anti Crow Hut

Anti Crow Hut: interior, opposite end of hut

View east to Klondyke Corner from Anti Crow Hut
There are some impressive views of the South face of Mt Rolleston (2271 meters) as well as the Crow Valley. I will eventually get around to visiting the Crow Valley Hut, it is a bit of a tricky trip as you need to cross the Waimakiriri a couple of times to get there.

Rolleston Glacier from near Anti Crow Hut

Mt Rolleston (2271 meters), Arthurs Pass NP
The hut looks good in its new coat of paint, I especially like the sheet of clearlite DOC have retrofitted to improve the light inside the hut. Makes it so much brighter and cheerful.

Close view of Anti Crow Hut
There is a big flat area in front of the hut, if the hut was full you would have your choice of spots for tenting.

River flats in front of Anti Crow Hut

Crow Valley, destination for future trip, Avalanche Peak to right
I ate my lunch in the hut and then made my way back the way I had arrived. The wind picked up a little around 12 noon but it was still nice walking weather.

Waimakariri Valley: heading back towards Jordan Stream
The hut is just on the other side of the bush spur coming in from the left, the track meanders for about 700-800 meters through the bush.

Anti Crow Hut is just the other side of this bush spur
There is a really obvious ground trail in those places with vegetation, the route is also marked by snow poles as well.

Obvious ground trail across Turkey Flat

Waimakariri Valley: gravel bash supreme!
I don't normally listen to the MP3 while tramping but with that big gravel flat to cross again I needed the inspiration, it worked because it took me half the previous time to get back to the start of the flood track.

Jon bopping out crossing Jordan Stream

More getting down...Waimakariri River Valley
Jordan Stream....that's a whole lot of gravel to walk over, especially when viewed from a log in the middle of the stream bed.

View up the Waimakariri Valley from bed of Jordan Stream

O'Malleys Track: reason for the sidle track: bluffs!
As you can see the Waimakiriri comes right up against the side of Bealey Spur, the water was flowing deep and fast in this channel.

Nice river pool approaching Bealey Bridge
This is the last climb before you start descending down to the car park near the Bealey Bridge. I agree with the guide books: this track needlessly goes up and down but it is a godsend for accessing the upper reaches of the Waimakariri river valley.

O'Malleys Track..scrappy track high above the Waimakariri River

I will be coming back some time in the future to visit the Upper Waimakariri River, I'm keen to visit the massive 36 bunk Carrington Hut as well as the much more modest Waimakariri Falls Hut.

Access: From SH 73 at the Bealey Bridge, park at the O'Malleys Track car park and follow the flood track to Turkey Flat, follow the marked track towards the head of the Waimakariri Valley.
Track Times: 2-3 hours to Anti Crow Hut Hut, another 2 hours to Carrington Hut
Hut Details: Anti Crow Hut: standard, 6 bunks, wood burner, water tank, toilet: Carrington Hut: serviced (CTC owned, DOC administered), 36 bunks, radio, wood burner, water tanks, wood shed, toilets
Miscellaneous: Both the Waimakariri and Anti Crow Rivers are dangerous, numerous people have drowned in both, care needed when crossing. Jordan Stream prone to flooding in heavy rain.