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Arthur's Pass: Carrington Hut route

Track category

Route

Time:  

2 days return

Description

State Highway 73 - Carrington Hut

Time: 4 - 6 hr

When the Waimakariri is difficult to cross

Leave State Highway 73 on the true right of Waimakariri River, immediately south of the road bridge over Waimakariri River. A well-marked track (known as O’Malley’s track) passes above bluffs to Turkey Flat by Jordan Stream. From here follow pole markers across the flats, staying high to avoid the thorny native matagouri shrubs lower down. Once past the flats follow the bush edge to Anti Crow Hut (6 bunks). A 400-metre section of track leading to the hut from the end of the flats can be used when the river is in flood.

Continue along the track behind Anti Crow Hut through beech forest. The track crosses a small stream by the foundations of the original Anti Crow Hut. As you reach Anti Crow River, look for a safe place to cross.

The hard rocky knolls you cross are called roche moutonnée (French for rock sheep). Thousands of years ago, when glaciers covered this area, the moving ice of the glacier sculpted these outcrops of hard rock. The track drops down to the Waimakariri riverbed 2 km before Greenlaw Creek.

Where the track ends in the riverbed, make your own way up the valley. If the Waimakariri is crossable, follow the best route up the valley, crossing the river as necessary to above the Greenlaw Creek confluence. 

Do not attempt to cross the river if it is high. Use the marked flood route up the true right instead. This is a steep, arduous route over bluffs and may also be impassable if the side streams are flooded after heavy rain.

Both Greenlaw and Harper creeks are dangerous crossings if high. If you are unsure about any of the crossings in this area, it is safest to wait for river levels to drop. Camp or return to the nearest hut if it is safe to do so.

The track beyond Harper Creek is well marked although the riverbed provides the fastest route, conditions permitting.

As you get closer to Carrington Hut, keep an eye out for the serrated top of Carrington Peak. Just before White River joins the Waimakariri, a short section of marked track leads to Carrington Hut.

When the Waimakariri is low

From the western side of Klondyke Corner a 2-km-long gravel road leads to the riverbed. The quickest way to Carrington Hut is to head straight up the Waimakariri valley from this point, cutting corners and crossing the river where necessary. Aim for the lower edges of Turkey Flat. From there, either continue up the riverbed, or pick up the track behind Anti Crow Hut or at Anti Crow River.

If you prefer to continue up the riverbed, cross Waimakariri River below Greenlaw Creek, to the true left. Cross back to the true right by Harper Creek. Follow the riverbed upstream to Carrington Hut.

Carrington Hut has 36 bunks, and a radio which is monitored by Arthur’s Pass Visitor Centre during office hours, seven days a week. There is a wood stove in the hut for heating, but you will need your own cooker and utensils.

Day trips from Carrington Hut

White River

Time: 8-10 hr return

A trip up White River is an interesting but challenging day walk from Carrington Hut. Barker Hut (10 bunks, mountain radio) is in an alpine basin high up in the head of the White valley.

 It takes four or five hours to walk from Carrington Hut. The route along the river constantly changes because of active rock slides; the first 1.5 km of the track marked on some maps beyond Kilmarnock Falls has been destroyed. Take note that the footbridge marked on some maps below Barker Hut also no longer exists.

This route passes through several known avalanche paths. During heavy snow conditions we advise visitors not to travel this route unless sufficiently equipped and experienced to assess the snow conditions and choose a safe path through avalanche terrain.

Waimakiriri Falls Hut

Time: 6 - 10 hr return

The walk to Waimakariri Falls Hut (6 bunks) has dramatic alpine scenery, with waterfalls running down sheer rock faces to gentle tarn-studded alpine herbfields. It takes three to five hours walking from Carrington Hut to Waimakariri Falls Hut.

The upper beech forest edge and beginning of the alpine zone are only one hour from Carrington Hut. The waterfalls, tussocks and alpine plants you can see there are well worth a visit.

This route passes through several known avalanche paths. During heavy snow conditions we advise visitors to not travel this route unless sufficiently equipped and experienced to assess the snow conditions and choose a safe path through avalanche terrain.
Waimakariri Falls Hut is sited in three potential avalanche paths. Do not use this hut during times of heavy snow loading.

For a description of the route to the Waimakariri Falls Hut see Arthur’s Pass National Park Route Guide 2.

Getting there

The trip starts at State Highway 73 on the true right of the Waimakariri, just south of the Waimakariri road bridge (about 7 km east of the Arthur's Pass Village).

Plan and prepare

  • Suitable for trampers with moderate experience
  • River crossing skills are essential.
  • NZTopomap50: Otira BV20 (Greenlaw Hut marked on some maps no longer exists.)
  • Safety on Arthur's Pass routes
  • Allow adequate time. Note the times given for each section are guides only.
  • Check snow and weather conditions. Mountain weather forecasts are available from the Arthur's Pass Visitor Centre.
  • Know your ability. Arthur's Pass National Park is mountain country. Navigational skills and ability to judge weather and river conditions are essential. Be prepared to turn back if conditions are not safe.
  • Never travel alone. This route is difficult.
  • Take a map and compass. Topomaps for the area are available to buy or hire from the Arthur's Pass Visitor Centre.
  • Cross rivers safely. Take care with river crossings especially after heavy rain. If in doubt, wait it out.
  • Note: True right and true left refers to the sides of the valley when looking downstream.
  •  

    Before you go into the outdoors, tell someone your plans and leave a date to raise the alarm if you haven't returned. To do this, use the New Zealand Outdoors Intentions process on the AdventureSmart website. It is endorsed by New Zealand's search and rescue agencies and provides three simple options to tell someone you trust the details about your trip.


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Contacts

Arthur's Pass National Park Visitor Centre
Phone:      +64 3 318 9211
Address:   State Highway 73
Arthur's Pass
Email:   arthurspassvc@doc.govt.nz
Full office details
Rangiora Office
Phone:      +64 3 313 0820
Email:   waimakariri@doc.govt.nz
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