South Island: Otira to Mt Cook Village
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I am considering doing the tramp described in this forum here: http://tramper.co....view=object&id=6369. Probably next February.
A few questions:
I gather there are some significant river crossings along the way - are these show-stoppers for a solo tramper?
There are huts along the route; however, is it ok to use a tent?
What sort of traffic does this route get at that time of year? Will the huts be full?
Hello Andrew, I'm only familiar with the northern half of the route from Otira through to Whitcombe Pass so my comments are only pertinent to that section.
Yes there are lots of river crossings & side creeks that would stop you after heavy rain but the good news is that they go down quickly once the rain stops & there are places you can ford safely at normal fine weather flows.
Yes it is ok to tent.
Most of the huts on this route only receive low or moderate levels of use. Carroll, Dillons & Grassy Flat huts can get busy at times but chances are you could get the other huts to yourself most of the time even in February. (I spent most of this Feb in the hills staying in huts on or near parts of the route being discussed and didn't get to share a hut with another party the whole time)
Thanks for your reply.
More Qs: :)
What time of year did you do the trip?
How long did it take you?
What route did you use to get out from Whitcombe pass?
Did you do any fishing on the way?
Andrew, I've been in that country at all times of the year. The one time we went thru Whit Pass was September. That trip we turned around & headed back thru the pass & down the Whitcombe. In my opinion the best time of year for the trip you are considering would be March or April. Feb is ok but tends to have shorter spells of settled wx than autumn.
I could walk "mad poms" route from Kelly's Creek through to the first hut on the Canterbury side of Whitcombe Pass in eight days weather permitting. That is without allowing contingency time for wx enforced stops or resting up. Being unfamiliar with the country means you might be slower than eight days?
No I haven't fished whilst tramping that route but there are trout present in some of the rivers.
The southern (Canterbury) section from The Whitcombe to Mt Cook is the hardest as far as rivers go. Four major rivers that are likely to cause trouble: Raikaia, Clyde, Havelock, Murchinson.
All a doddle on a good day and unthinkable after heavy rain. As usual, it's the conditions between the two extremes that cause the real trouble ... as the following account relates:
Of the four, the Murchinson can be avoided with a long sidle to the glacier boats or roadend, but the persistent heavy rain in the headwaters of others are showstoppers - high waters leaving the option to cancel the trip and head east to the nearest roadend, or wait for the river to drop.
@glennj I suspect you are right that I would need more than 8 days for the top section. I am in NZ in Feb for a wedding so will have to take my chances on the weather. Is this escape route you used over the Whitcombe pass a viable option for a shorter trip? Where did you end up ie. which town?
@madpom The river crossings seem to be a big x-factor. I read your article on crossing the Clyde and the Havelock and my take away is that if you don't know these sorts of rivers well, then avoidance is the greater part of valor.:)
Thanks to both of you for the info - much appreciated. I love the idea of an extended trip on the lesser traveled tracks, but as a short term visitor with a fairly fixed departure date, I am thinking I might be better off finding a route I can cover in 7-8 days, with a few days margin for error. I will keep digging around the site.
If you have any suggestions on alternative walks, I am keen to hear it.
If you can manage the transport logistics, walking the Whitcombe Pass north section in reverse might be an option. If you can get transport to Erewhon Station (station as in sheep, not trains) there are no major river crossings. Even from the Sth bank of the Raikaia / Rangitata at Mesopatania the only show-stopper (given anything but a terrible forecast) would be the crossing of the Raikaia on day 1. And once you are over the Whitcombe Pass, every catchment you enter has marked, bridged tracks down to the West Coast road as either escape routes in bad weather, or ways out if you are running behind schedule.
Other possibilities on the Main Divide: St Arnaud to Lewis Pass. Lewis Pass to Arthurs Pass (search for 'Nina valley' and 'Harper Pass' on this site), Mt Cook/or Ohau to Makarora/or West Coast (haven't written those 2 up yet myself but some of my favourite tramping country in there). Or explore one of the lesser-visited ranges such as the Eyre Mountains or the Takitimus each of which offer trips of 4-8 days with almost no chance of meeting anyone.
MP Is the Erewhon Stn near where the Clyde and Havelock join?
Sorry. Must have been half-asleep. Wrong catchment completely! Glad you spotted that one.
Glenfalloch is the station to access the Whitcombe, and requires crossing the Raikaia, though this is reportedly easy in low-moderate flows at the ford near the station. So that would be the start point for the Sth-North walk and would get the only river crossing out of the way on day 1.
Thanks, MP. That makes more sense. :)
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