Showing posts with label Tramping in New. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tramping in New. 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!!!