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Arthur's Pass: Mingha - Deception Route

Alert/Important notice

September 2014: Spring conditions in alpine areas

Spring conditions exist. Snow still affects many higher tracks and routes. Ice axe, crampons and avalanche skills may be required. Please check with the Visitor Centre for current conditions in all alpine areas.

Track category

Route

Time:  

2 - 3 days

Description

Bealey River - Mingha River - Goat Pass Hut

Time: 5 hr  

Five kilometres south of Arthur’s Pass village, cross Bealey River near its confluence with Mingha River. The rivers are constantly changing course so you will need to find the best place to cross. If Bealey River is too high to ford, postpone the trip. Do not use the Bealey rail bridge to get to the Mingha.

Once across Bealey River go up the Mingha riverbed, crossing the river as necessary for about an hour until the river narrows to a gorge. Just past a side creek on the true right, a marked track enters the bush on that (western) side. The track climbs well above the gorge on to Dudley Knob, and then makes its way back to the river close to the bush line.

Parties travelling down the Mingha should ensure they find the track - the gorge is very difficult to negotiate.) Take care above Agility Creek as the track runs close to the edge of steep drop-offs and bluffs.

Shortly after the track emerges from the bush there is small hut (Mingha Bivvy - 2 bunks). From here follow the marked trail, crossing Mingha River where it bends west towards Temple Col and is met by the stream running down from Goat Pass.

The marked track resumes here through subalpine scrub on the true left of Goat Pass Stream, leading onto boardwalk across the boggy sections. The track continues across sections of boardwalk through to the obvious summit of Goat Pass. Goat Pass Hut (20 bunks, no heating or cooking facilities) is in a hollow just north of the pass. Total time from the main road to the hut is about 5 hours.

Goat Pass Hut has a radio linked to Arthur’s Pass Visitor Centre. Calls can be made during office hours for weather forecasts and information.

Lake Mavis - side trip

For parties with time in hand at Goat Pass, the climb to Lake Mavis is worthwhile in summer. Climb the steep tussock and scree on the spur running east from Goat Pass, then follow the cairned ridge route - perhaps the easiest access to a high-level lake in the park. The climb to the lake is about 500 metres and takes about 2 hours.

This area is subject to avalanche activity during the winter. During heavy snow conditions, we advise visitors not to travel this route unless sufficiently equipped and experienced to assess the conditions and choose a safe path through avalanche terrain.

Goat Pass Hut - Deception River - SH 73

Time: 8 - 9 hr

Note: The western part of this route involves a lot of riverbed travel and the times are highly changeable dependent on the current state of the river crossings.

Follow the marked route down a creek bed through scrub into the upper Deception River. The route now involves scrambling and boulder-hopping down the riverbed and through adjacent bush (sometimes on distinct bits of track which may be marked). Upper Deception Hut (6 bunks) is reached in just over an hour, before Good Luck Creek on the true right bank. It is very easy to miss this hut on its scrub-covered river terrace.

Continue in or beside the riverbed for a further 2 hours 30 minutes until it opens out into a large flat on the true left just below Gorge Creek. Below this flat the river passes a small, warm, sulphur-smelling spring then narrows to the gates of the lower gorge. In normal conditions continue on down the lower gorge for two hours or more to the open flat where the Deception meets Otira River.

The footbridge across the Otira is just north of the confluence (i.e. on the true right bank of the Deception).

The Mingha-Deception route forms the run leg of New Zealand’s most iconic multi-sport race - the Coast to Coast. It is not uncommon in spring and summer to come across people training for the event, running from west to east. Race Director, Robin Judkins, sponsors a programme to protect blue duck/whio in these valleys. Any sightings of blue duck should be reported to staff at the DOC Visitor Centre in Arthur’s Pass.

Warning: Both the Mingha and the Deception rivers (especially the latter) can be dangerous. Do not attempt this trip when these rivers are high or when bad weather is forecast. Descent of Deception River will require up to 30 compulsory river crossings.

Getting there

The east-coast end of the trip leaves SH 73, five kilometres south of Arthur’s Pass village, just after the Mingha bluffs.

The west-coast end of the trip is also accessed from SH 73. A footbridge crosses Otira River 5 km west of the Otira township.

Plan and prepare

  • Experience: Suitable for fit, well- equipped people with moderate tramping experience.
  • Best season: Summer, autumn and early winter.
  • NZTopo50 map: Otira BV20
  • Note: There are no cooking or heating facilities in Goat Pass Hut.

Both the Mingha and the Deception rivers (especially the latter) can be dangerous. Do not attempt this trip when these rivers are high or when bad weather is forecast. Descent of Deception River will require up to 30 compulsory river crossings.

The alternative route, out from Goat Pass via Temple Col (see Route Guide 6A), is an unmarked alpine route and should not be attempted in poor conditions, in heavy or melting snows, or by inexperienced parties. It is not a short cut!

Do not attempt this trip in bad weather or when rain is forecast. Rivers can flood at any time of year. If rivers and side streams are in flood, seek shelter and wait until water levels fall before crossing.

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