Taipo Valley - Kelly Range

29-30 October 2016

We were on the road by 8am leaving a slightly cool cloudy Christchurch. However the drive to Jacksons over the Otira Gorge was clear, promising blue sky in the afternoon. We parked the car at the Taipo Valley carpark and took 3 hours on a 4WD track to walk past the old Dillon Homestead to a modern Dillon Hut. Wet boots dried on a slightly breezy and sunny afternoon ready for the next day’s adventure. We had a relaxing afternoon, then enjoyed one of Kerry’s gourmet meals and the famous hot custard on gingernuts. The night was filled with clear sky and bright stars for those who ventured into the dark.

A 7:15 start on a frosty morning saw us slowly heading up a steep spur track to the Kelly Tops. We lunched on the tops under a blue sky. The tracks were reasonable with one dubious section at the top of a monster slip that reached down into Seven Mile Creek. Diane commented that she wouldn’t want to be walking there in an earthquake.

We met Rob, a polytech student and 2 girls going in the opposite direction. They had left their car at Kelly’s car-park. Sizing them up, we decided to offer them our car keys so they could drive back to their car, helping both teams greatly. The tops track goes past some beautiful tarns and there were patches of snow at the top. 360º views were spectacular, as was the reflection of the many tarns. Snow-capped Mounts Alexander and Tara Tama were impressive. Before long we reached the highest point, 1385m, Kelly Saddle at 1185m, then Carroll Hut at 2pm. We enjoyed a sunny afternoon break there, also chatting with another PTC member out for an easy break.

Two small sections were washed out on the steep downhill to the carpark. The group did well and reached the car-park before 4:30pm, a little worried not to see our car but Rob and co rolled up 20 minutes later—both teams smiling happily.

It was a great weekend well led by Kerry and enjoyed by Norman Burden, Diane Melish, Jane Smith and Kerry Moore. (JS)