Showing posts with label Waimakiriri River. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Waimakiriri River. Show all posts

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Carrington Hut-Waimakiriri Trip: 9-11th Februray 2018

Gravel bashing in the headwaters of the Waimakiriri...

A couple of weekends ago I went for an overnight tramp to the head of the Waimakiriri River to visit Carrington Hut. Carrington Hut is another of the series of Lockwood huts built in Arthur's Pass National Park, they were much in favour with the park board back in the 1970-80's.

Carrington Hut (1975)
Carrington Hut is a behemoth of a building, built in 1975 it has bunks and living space for 36 trampers and is the gateway for trips to Barker Hut, Waimakiriri Falls, the Three Passes Track, Mt Rolleston and the headwaters of the Rakaia and Rangitata Rivers.

This was my first visit to Arthur's Pass NP in two years and it was good to be back home. 

Day one: Klondyke to Carrington Hut

I started out from the Klondyke Corner car park at around 9.30 am. You follow a gravel road from Klondyke for 2 kms till you reach a parking area and toilet.

Normally I would be a bit wary of parking my car here...there are vandals who cruise up and down the Arthur's Pass Highway breaking into cars as they go.


Heading for the Southern Alps, just outside Kirwee...

It was more secure this weekend as the Coast to Coast was running and there were people and police everywhere for three days...they camp overnight at the Klondyke Corner camp-site between stages.


The Silver Surfer parked at the Klondyke car park...lots of others had the same idea!

The Surfer with the Waimakirirri River valley in the background

Waimakiriri River Valley from the Klondyke Car-park
The beginning of this trip is a crossing of the Waimakiriri River. Normally this would be a slightly sketchy undertaking even is summer, but it has been so hot and dry the river is very low.


Waimakiriri River Valley: Klondyke Corner to the Crow River


Bealey Spur from the car-park near Klondyke Corner...heading to the river crossing

Even though the river was low I still did the full river crossing procedure. I checked out a hundred meter stretch of the river till I found the best crossing spot, stowed all my gear securely, found a stick to assist me and very carefully crossed the river.

The flow was swift but only reached up to my knees so it was safe to cross.


Waimakiriri River with Mt Harper and Mt Stewart in the background- this is a very low water level

Crossing the Waimakiriri River at Klondyke Corner, Black Range in background

Luckily there was only one braid to the river, normally there are 2-4 braids which need to be crossed.  If the Waimakiriri is too high to cross at Klondyke there is a flood track (O'Malley Track) running down the true right of the Waimakiriri. It can be accessed from the small car park next to the bridge on SH73.

Be aware though, there is a mandatory crossing of the Waimakiriri required further up valley so if you can not cross at Klondyke you probably wont get further than the Anti Crow River.


View back to Klondyke Corner from the true right of the Waimakiriri River
To start you need to head for Anti Crow Hut. I decided to walk up the river bed direct to Anti Crow Hut and use the track across Turkey Flat on the way back. Both will get you to the hut but it is far better to walk up the bed of Jordan Stream and intersect the track to Anti Crow Hut.

Following the track will save you about 30-40 minutes as walking over those river rocks is damn hard work....


View towards the head of the Waimakiriri River from near Klondyke Corner

Set of foot prints from another hardy soul, Waimakiriri River valley

It is hot sunny work walking up the bed of the Waimakiriri river so make sure you have a good sun blocking hat and sunscreen with you.

Channelling Ed Hilary in the hot summer sun....Waimakiriri River

Pt. 1582 from the Waimakiriri River bed

The Anti Crow track intersects with Jordan Stream about a kilometre from the banks of the Waimakiriri. There are snow poles marking the track so just keep climbing until you see them. 


Looking up Jordan Stream to the Black Range...go up here and find the Anti Crow track!


Side view of Mt Bealey from the Waimakiriri river bed
There are some great expansive views of the Southern Alps as you move up the valley. Normally the tops of most of these mountains would still have a dusting of snow but it has all long since melted away.

Classic gravel bashing terrain up the Waimakiriri River


Mt Stewart further up the Waimakiriri River Valley
The Anti Crow track runs along the tussock/grass flats you can see between the riverbed and the bush..it is much easier travel than the river bed!

Bealey Spur from the bed of the Waimakiriri River

Native Clemensia flower on the bed of the Waimakiriri River


Another nice side trip in this valley is a visit to the Crow Valley, almost directly opposite Anti Crow Hut. There is a very nice 10 bunk hut up the valley and the mountain flowers are very picturesque in mid to late spring.

 Crow Hut is also accessible via a 'sporty' track up Mt Avalanche and then down a long scree slope into the Crow Valley.The track starts right behind the church in Arthur's Pass township.


Image: Crow Hut, Arthurs Pass NP:  Eli Duke | Creative Commons



Rolleston Glacier at the head of the Crow Valley

Close up of Rolleston Glacier from near Anti Crow Hut

After about an hour Anti Crow Hut hove into view....it sat temptingly on its grassy clearing as I slowly worked my way across the rocky river bed. That last kilometre seemed to take an awfully long time to pass...

Anti Crow hut from the bed of the Waimakiriri River


Close up of Anti Crow hut from the Waimakiriri River bed

A respite at Anti Crow hut

It took me about two hours to get to Anti Crow Hut from Klondyke Corner so I was ready to get out of the sun for awhile. I sat in the hut and had a snack and some water, noting my passing in the hut intentions book while there.

I was last at Anti Crow Hut back in 2015, Ive been meaning to come back up this valley but just never got around to it till now. The hut was stifling hot in the sun, I opened the windows to let some of the heat out......

Anti Crow Hut (1960)

Anti Crow Hut: entrance, bench and storage cupboard

Anti Crow Hut: Bunks, note my new Osprey pack inside the hut

The track to the upper Waimakiriri River continues at the side of Anti Crow Hut. It is a mixture of short bush tracks, river crossings and river bed travel for the rest of the way to Carrington Hut another three hours up valley.



Track to Carrington hut at the back of Anti Crow Hut

I crossed over the bone dry river just past the hut, most of the side streams and creeks have dried up in the extreme heat...

A side stream near Anti Crow Hut...bone dry in a hot summer!

The mid reaches of the Waimakiriri River Valley


After about 20 minutes you come to the remains of the original Anti Crow Hut. This hut was built in the 1920's and burnt down in the late 1950s so saw some good use. All that remains are the steps that went into the hut and a few sheets of rusted roofing tin....



Site of the original Anti Crow Hut (1926)

Front step from the original Anti Crow Hut

Remains of the Original Anti Crow Hut built in the 1920's

About 30 minutes from Anti Crow Hut you come to the bed of the Anti Crow River. This river can easily become impassible in the slightest of rain as it has a huge and steep catchment area. If it is difficult to cross this river do not venture further up the Waimakiriri as there is a mandatory crossing of the Waimakiriri an hour upstream you will not be able to negotiate.


Swamp on the approach to Anti Crow River

Crossing the Anti Crow River, note the catchment area in the background

Anti Crow River: easy to cross in this hot dry summer weather

Past the Anti Crow River you climb to the top of some roche moutonees. A roche moutonee is an area of harder rock that the glacier that once graced this valley was unable to wear away. They often have the scratch marks of passing rock debris upon them.

A interesting geological oddity...



View of the Anti Crow River from one of the roche moutonees

First view of the mid reaches of the Waimakiriri River from the roche moutonees

About 20 minutes further up valley there is a mandatory crossing of the Waimakiriri, it is one of the smaller side braids of the river. Even in this very hot dry summer it was still up to my knees and quite swift, take care when crossing this point!



Looking towards Mt Harper and Mt Speight in the mid-reaches of the Waimakiriri

Crossing a braid of the Waimakiriri, this is a mandatory crossing point!!!!

Rounding Mt Stewart in the Waimakiriri River bed

Once past the flank of Mt Stewart you are able to see the upper reaches of the Waimakiriri River Valley. After crossing Greenlaw Stream it is about four km's to the hut, mostly on decent bush tracks.


Crossing Greenlaw Creek, Mt Campbell it the peak to the right...

There is a section of bush track past Greenlaw Stream which you need to follow as the river comes in close to this side of the valley. Carrington Hut is on an old forest covered debris fan you can see in front of Mt Campbell in the photo below.


View of a distant Mt Campbell and the White-Waimakiriri River confluence

On the Waimakiriri River flood track near Carrington Hut


Carrington Hut lies on the bush tongue coming in from the left, Mt Campbell behind

Mt Stewart from near Harper Stream, note the rouche moutonees...

Resting near Harper Stream...my Lowa Boots and gaiters

At Carrington Hut, Waimakiriri River Valley

Finally after five and a half hours I arrived at Carrington Hut..I was pleased as I was a bit knackered by that point. Even with a light load the distance, sun and heat had really kicked the stuffing out of me. That is travel in this kind of terrain: hard, hot and tiring!

I was really looking forward to that first brew at the hut and boy was it satisfying!



Last bush track before Carrington Hut
Isn't that a grand sight....Carrington Hut is huge...easily one of the biggest huts I have yet had the pleasure of visiting....

The location is spectacular...it is surrounded by 2000+ meter peaks in all directions, I can only imagine what it is like in winter...



Carrington Hut on the confluence of the White and Waimakiriri Rivers

The hut is built on an old forest covered debris field. From the looks of the terrain it slid down the side of nearby Camp Spur but it must have been historic as it has fully mature beech trees on it that must be at least 300-400 years old.

Great view from the veranda at Carrington Hut

The veranda at Carrington Hut...my Osprey pack is next to the door

DOC sign on the outside of Carrington Hut

Nice French style doors leading to the coat-room at Carrington Hut

I love these old 1970's Lockwood huts: they are all wood, varnish and airy space. They were really popular with the Arthur's Pass NP board....other notable examples are Goat Pass, Hamilton Hut, Edwards Hut and both Hawdon I and Casey Huts. 

Both Hawdon I and Casey huts have burnt down which is one of the flaws of building a hut out of such flammable material. All that varnish has a down side...when these huts burn THEY REALLY BURN!.



Detail of one of the dining areas: firewood storage, mountain radio and one of the bunk rooms

Detail of the dining area: Shelves and the entrance to the room...lots of varnish!!!

View from inside Carrington Hut, Waimakiriri River Valley

There are two dining areas in this hut, I used the one on the left as it also contained the firebox. The building has very little heating for such a huge hut so I imagine it is awesomely cold in the depths of winter. 


The dining area I used at Carrington Hut, note the wood burner is in this room

Later in the evening I sat on the bench on the hut veranda and admired the scenery with several of the other people staying for the night. Very pleasant it was as there are not a lot of sandflies around the hut.



Carrington Hut: the clearing in front of the hut

Carrington Hut: the track to the lower valley from the hut veranda

I had a chat to a trio of kiwi trampers at dinnertime as well as a lone French tramper. The French guy has been cycling around the country for the last two months inter spaced with time off to walk a few tracks. He was bound for Julia Hut in the Taipo River Valley the next day.

The three kiwis were on their way home after a trip up to Harman Pass and Waimakiriri Falls Hut. There were also a group of four German guys who were walking the Three Passes Tramp.

 Lots of interesting destinations at the end of this valley...



My dinner for the evening: Thai Green Chicken Curry, tea and an isotonic drink

The hut has four bunk rooms with nine bunks in each room....the additional bunk spaces are in the dining areas, each of the dining spaces have an additional three bunks/seats with mattresses. In winter that would be the best spot to sleep as the wood burner is in the dining room. I have heard of people needing to dig themselves into and out of this hut after a good snow dump.


Carrington Hut: sleeping quarters..my new Exped 500 Lite pit in use

Day two: Carrington Hut to Klondyke Corner

The next day was another cracker, blue skies and beautiful warm weather encouraged me to get up and start walking early. After packing up and eating a quick breakfast I set off down valley heading for the car park. 


The nice French style doors at Carrington Hut...just like a home really


Early morning light on Mt Campbell, near Carrington Hut

The sun had just started to rise over the eastern mountain ranges as I set off down valley. I was in full sunlight after the first hour of walking which made for some hot walking as it was already about 18 degrees. It eventually got up to 29 degrees so the afternoon was steamy....



Waimakiriri River Valley: start of the track near Carrington Hut

Waimakiriri River Valley: heading towards Harpers Stream
If you look at the topo map for this end of the valley it shows a track through the bush along the true right. This is out of date....there is an active slip half way down the valley which has covered the track so the track markers have been moved onto the bed of the river. 


Map of the Upper Waimakiriri Valley: note the new poled track in red


The active slip near Carrington Hut, Waimakiriri River Valley

Waimakiriri River Valley: view back towards Mt Campbell from the track

There is a bit of a climb past the slip then a short but very pleasant section of track through the bush to Harper Creek. The light on the trees this early in the morning is very appealing.



Bush track travel near Harpers Creek, Waimakiriri River Valley


I stopped in Harper Creek to resupply with water, the water in the creek was a lot cleaner than the tannin stained water from the hut. The level of the creek was very low....normally the creek is much wider and deeper.



Looking to the catchment for Harpers Stream, Mt Harper in background

Water resupply point in Harper Creek

It is back into the bush for a spell until you break out onto some river flats as you approach the 'Big Bend' in the Waimakiriri River. 


Early morning light on the bush track near Harpers Stream, Waimakiriri River Valley

Waimakiriri River Valley: approaching the 'Big Bend' in the Waimakiriri River

You have two options at the 'Big Bend': either stay in the riverbed and cross the Waimakiriri River several times or follow the flood track along the true right of the valley. Being ever cautious I chose to follow the slightly sketchy track. It wasn't too bad though a couple of times I went erckkkkk....I'm constantly thinking about rock fall danger and there is a bit of it on that section of the track.


Waimakiriri River Valley: on the sketchy flood track

View of the 'Big Bend" from further down the Waimakiriri River Valley

 Avalanche Peak and Mt Bealey from the bed of the Waimakiriri River Valley

I struck an interesting thing on a section of the track through the bush...in the space of 5 meters were three of the methods used to mark tracks in New Zealand. These are the standard DOC triangles, NZFS permolat strips and NZFS round markers. 

This track has been in use for a long time.



Waimakiriri River Valley: Standard triangle and Permolat markers


An old NZFS track marker on the flood track to Carrington Hut

There is a section of board-walk on the track approaching the roche moutonees at Anti Crow Stream. This is provided to protect the delicate swamp plants not your footwear...


Waimakiriri River Valley: board-walk near Anti Crow Stream



Waimakiriri River Valley: view of the valley from the roche moutonees


Waimakiriri River Valley: classic glacial scarring on the roche moutonees


Anti Crow Stream and looking at the last bush finger before reaching Anti Crow Hut


The last section before Anti Crow hut is through some forest, it was very nice to get out of the hot sun and into some shade. The finger of bush the hut occupies is quite lush given the number of people who must have scoured this area for firewood over the last 120 odd years....


On the last bush track before Anti-Crow Hut, Waimakiriri River Valley


Anti Crow Hut....nice porridge decorating feature on the hut exterior

Last view of Anti Crow hut on my way back to Klondyke Corner

From the flats in front of Anti Crow Hut you can see right up the Crow Valley, there is a very nice ten bunk hut there, accessible from the Waimakiriri or via Avalanche Peak. I hear the valley is very pretty in spring when the alpine flowers come out of hibernation, I've only ever been in the summer.


View up the Crow Valley towards Mt Rolleston from outside Anti Crow Hut

Using the Waimakiriri River bed to circumvent a section of the flood track

The final leg of the journey is the slog across Turkey Flat. The flat is massive, it is easily 3-4 kilometres from one side to the other.  The flat is made up of alluvial spoil deposited by Jordan Stream over the centuries. A lot of water obviously comes down the river as it is about a hundred metres higher than the Waimakiriri River bed.



The extent of Turkey Flat in the Waimakiriri River Valley



Heading out across the grasslands that cover Turkey Flat, Arthurs Pass NP

On the apex of Turkey Flat looking back towards Anti Crow Hut

Jon you are so cool.......my usual summer tramping attire!

Once you reach the apex of the track over Turkey flat you turn left and walk down the bed of Jordan Stream to the Waimakiriri. Then it is a matter of finding the best place to cross back over to the car park near Klondyke Corner.



View of Klondyke Corner and The Dome from the apex of Turkey Flat

I suggest you walk down the main channel of Jordan Stream if going this way, I walked down one of the braids and it petered out in thick matagouri bush just shy of the river.


Heading down the dry bed of Jordan Stream to the Waimakiriri River

A dry Jordan Stream emerging from the Black Range

Once I reached the riverbed I headed for the same general area I had crossed on the previous day. The river was flowing at the same rate, so I found my crossing pole from the previous day and made my way across.


View towards Klondyke Corner from the Waimakiriri River, note The Dome (1945) in the background


Waimakiriri River: preparing to cross the river

A great trip in Arthur's Pass National Park to a great hut. Having made it up to the hut I now have plans for all sorts of side trips formulating in my mind. I see a trip to Barker Hut or Waimakiriri Falls hut in the future or possibly even a crossing of the Alps using the Three Passes Route.



Access: O'Malley Track from the bridge across the Waimakiriri at Bealey Spur, across Turkey Flat to Anti Crow Hut OR cross the Waimakiriri River from the Klondyke Corner car-park direct to Anti Crow Hut. See the DOC website for more information on the Carrington Hut route.
Track Times: 14-16km's or 4-6 hrs depending on the route followed.
Hut Details: Anti Crow Hut: Standard, 6 bunks, wood burner, water tank, toilet; Crow Hut: Standard, 10 bunks, wood burner, water tank, wood shed, toilet; Carrington Hut, Serviced, 36 bunks, mountain radio, wood burner, water tank, wood shed, toilet.
Miscellaneous: Rivers and major side streams can rise quickly and become dangerous. Ensure you have the latest weather information and are confident in reading rivers and know how to cross them.  There are two options to reach Carrington Hut, depending on whether the river is high or low.