Taipo River Track to Harman Pass
2 days. Times shown are a general guide only.
Main Road to Dillon Hut
Time: 2 - 3 hours
If you are driving a 4WD vehicle you can presently drive as far as Seven-Mile Creek. Please follow the poles marking the 4WD route and do not drive on the freehold land.
The new Dillons Hut is on a grassy, tree studded flat about 800 metres up the Taipo Valley from Seven Mile Creek If you are walking from State Highway 73 it will take you 2-3 hours following the vehicle track.
“Old Dillon’s Homestead” immediately across Seven Mile Creek also provides good “character” accommodation. This hut is maintained by a group of local enthusiasts, the Kumara Hunting Club.
Dillons Hut to Mid Taipo Hut
Time: 3 - 4 hours
Less than 1 hour of travel will bring you to Scotties Cableway. After crossing the cableway to the true left a steep climb takes you to the top of a bushed terrace. The track continues along the terrace for several hundred metres before dropping steeply down to river flats which are followed to the top end of the open flats about 600 metres beyond Dunns Creek. The track sidles through the bush above the river returning to open riverbed below Hura Creek. Cross Hura Creek and pick up the cut track leading to Mid Taipo Hut 500 metres beyond. Mid Taipo Hut contains 6 bunks and an open fire place.
During heavy rain Seven Mile, Dunns and Hura Creeks quickly become impassable.
Mid Taipo Hut to Julia Hut
Time: 2 - 3 hours
From Mid Taipo Hut travel up the true left to the Mid Taipo Swing Bridge and cross this to the true right. The track continues along this side crossing various side streams and alternating between the riverbed and bush travel. A three wire walk gives access across Tumbledown Creek. The old Julia Hut (4 bunks, an open fireplace and loads of character) is in a clearing on a terrace just upstream of a large tarn.
The newer hut is a few minutes further along the track, on a lower terrace. This hut contains six bunks and a wood stove.
A short track leads from the front door down to the Taipo River. Approximately 450 metres downstream on the true right of the Taipo some hot springs can be located on the river’s edge (follow your nose as you get closer). You may need to dig them out to create a pool. Don’t put your head under the water as there is a risk of contracting amoebic meningitis.
Julia Hut to Harman Pass
Time: 3 - 4 hours
From Julia Hut follow the track upstream to and across the Mary Creek Swing Bridge. The track climbs and sidles above Mary Creek before eventually dropping down to the creek bed. Initially travel remains on the true left but after half an hour or so marker poles lead you across to the true right and up toward the gorge in Mary Creek. Cross the creek below the gorge and follow the markers climbing and sidling high to avoid the gorge. Keep following the marker poles, dropping into and crossing Mary Creek above the gorge and climbing through easy bluffs to Harman Pass. In misty/cloudy conditions it is difficult to see the poles and care should be taken to locate and follow them.
Access into the Taipo Valley is via a rough gravel road from SH73.
The road begins opposite the first farmhouse on the left after crossing the Taipo River Bridge while driving toward Otira, and climbs over a high terrace. The road is signposted and is suited only to 4WD vehicles but a carpark adjacent to State Highway 73 provides parking for 2WD vehicles.
Permission to cross freehold land downstream of Seven Mile Creek must be obtained from P & J Fitzgerald at Wainihinihi on telephone +64 3 736 9109.
About the area
The Taipo Valley is often travelled as part of a popular route from the Waimakariri River via Harman Pass. This guide describes the route from SH73 to Harman Pass only.
Plan and prepare
Topomap: NZTopo50-BV20 Otira and NZTopo50-BU20 Moana
Experience: Suitable for well equipped people with previous back-country experience.
Best season: Summer and autumn.
Hazards: Flooded river and side streams. If travelling through to Harman Pass during the winter/early spring people need to be aware of the risk of avalanches down any of the side streams crossing the track in Mary Creek. Ice axes and crampons may be required.
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.
Call at the Department of Conservation Office for the latest track conditions and to purchase your hut tickets prior to starting the trip.
Information in this guide is an indication of conditions only. Storm damage to the route and re-growth of vegetation will slow progress. Allowances must be made for possible delays through bad weather and track damage.
Huts generally contain no cooking equipment trampers are advised to travel “self contained”.
Note: True left and true right refer to the side of the valley or river when looking downstream.
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