Annette and Chris took me to Arthurs Pass in December 2013. I’ve always wanted to hike across the Southern Alps at Harpers Pass.
From near Klondike Corner my route followed the Mingha, across Goat Pass, then down the Deception and Otira Rivers. It then went up the Taramakau River and crossed the divide at Harpers Pass. It then followed the Hurunui River down to Lake Sumner and then over the Hope/Kiwi Saddle and down to the Lewis Pass. A little over one hundred kilometers.
I planned to do the walk in five days but took seven. More about that later.
The leg down the Deception River was not easy. It is a rough track if indeed it could be called a track. John Keys, the New Zealand Prime Minister and promoter of the Te Araroa trail, should have a look at the Deception. He’d more that likely change the smooth and thick red line on the map to very faint dots with many dots missing!
But I should be careful here. I wouldn’t want anyone to think I’m an overseas softie expecting a nice grass trail! It’s just that I wasn’t expecting the Deception, that’s all.
It was raining when we got to Arthurs Pass so the falls wee not to be seen. I used to work in the Ministry of Works on the Arthurs Pass road forty five years ago and saw the falls often.
Annette gave us a picture of the falls many years later. It hangs on our hallway wall here in Vancouver and here it is!
The hut system in New Zealand is second to none. The Department of Conservation applies a nominal fee to use these huts.
After this walk I did a second walk up the Bealey Spur, over the Cass Saddle and back down to SH 73. On that walk I spent two nights in the Hamilton Hut, a much larger structure than this.
Before WW I a German party found greenstone on the Griffin Range near Turiwhate.
This picture was taken from the Griffen Range looking down the Taramakau River. I’ve taken a bit of licence here as the picture was taken in 1971 further down the Taramakau from the Te Araroa track.
In the early 70’s Gordon McKay, then an Engineering Officer in the Ministry of Works, contracted with a Christchurch engineering company to find a route for a road to the site.
Gordon was getting a bit old then (about my present age) so asked me to do it. The Coll boys, Chris and Stephen, and I spent many weekends thrashing through the bush doing what we did for fun anyway and getting paid for it! To date no road has been built.
One day we dropped off the tops and down into Griffen Creek. This big stag was not far from the Griffin Creek hut.
The east side of the divide was not as steep as the west side. Here you can see the Hurunui River where it flattens out.
Electronic Homing Beacons
Before setting off I told my family that I would be away for five days. We arranged for Annette and Chris to meet me at the Chunn family batch in the Lewis Pass.
As it turns out I was dragging the chain a bit and took seven days to make the trip. That was a mistake right there! They called out the Search and Rescue for heavens sake!
I knew that Annette and Chris were going to a party in Christchurch, so made no special effort to hurry along.
I heard a helicopter flying over and thought ‘someone is lost’. At the time I was in thick birch, the chopper couldn’t see me and I couldn’t see it. To be honest, I didn’t know that it me who was lost!
Much later I heard tell that someone in my family thought that I aught not be out there anyway being sixty eight, over-weight and with no beacon! Well, I was sixty eight and there’s not much I can do about that! A little heavy too, I must admit.
I`ve since mused that if I had a beacon I would not have set it off anyway. I wasn`t lost and didn’t have broken leg or anything like that. As it was they came to get me anyway! This is a tough one to reckon with!
Nonetheless I am presently looking at a homing beacon that works through a smartphone. Messaging by satellite is a good way to go. We’ve come a long way sice the days of Arthur Dudley Dobson who trekked this country without huts, swing bridges, a homing beacon or a smart phone.
The Search and Rescue guys in the photo are both nice guys. All the more so for not charging me!
All in all it was a nice walk in part of my old stamping ground. It’s also nice to know that others were concerned for my well being. Thanks for that! Alan