Taipo River, Kelly Range

13 – 14 April 2019

Seven keen hikers met at Merv’s 7.30 am Saturday morning. Our original plan was to tramp up the Taipo River to Dillons Hut on Saturday, then stroll up the river to the old cable way, and perhaps beyond. However, the weather had changed a bit with cloud and possible shower forecast on Sunday so the leader opted instead for the Carroll Hut route to ensure the best conditions over the Kelly Range.

By the time we got to Kelly car park and shuttled a car to the Taipo River we finally departed after 10.30am, which probably meant fading light at the end of the day? Just as we left, a van load of Cashmere High School students arrived intending to hike to Dillons Hut All 10 of them! Blue skies, calm and cool, we made our way slowly up the steepish Carroll Hut track through the damp bush. A couple of hours later, above the bush line, we had lunch in the sun, an hour from the hut. Carroll Hut sits on a tussock ridge with great views over the Aicken and Kaimata ranges. It’s a popular hut in all seasons but not winter as there is no stove!!

We began climbing the well graded track to the tops of the Kelly Range in warm sunshine and blue skies traversing through the many tarns glinting in the sunshine, nestled in the high country golden tussock. Soon enough the Taipo valley and river was in view, and we started to make our way down through the over grown scrub to link up with the track that leads down to the river and hut. After 4pm, time was creeping on and the descent was slow and long. Keith, Vesna and Dorota arrived first at Dillons Hut about 6.30ish Dan and Lee had their torches out for their last hour as did Merv and Norman, who arrived an hour or so later.

The students had stopped for the night at the old Dillons Homestead hut. Two sociable West Coast guys were in residence at the new Dillons Hut they had the fire going, and were enjoying a few Monteiths and a board game. We got dinner on after coffees and soup and enjoyed a convivial evening with most in Disney land...zzz Not long after 10pm, we drifted off to the baleful roars of the deer stags reverberating around the valley.

Sunday dawned cool with clear skies we had a leisurely breakfast and uneventful walk out down the Taipo River to the car we were enjoying coffees at Arthurs Pass by lunchtime, and home by 4ish. A Big thank you to Merv for looking after the tail of our group and his efficient stove management! And also to Vesna who dispensed large chunks of after dinner chocolate to all!

We were: Norman Burden, Vesna Mojsilovic, Dorota Giejsztowt, Keith Hoard, Merv Meredith, Lee Varty and Dan Pryce (leader) (DP)

View down the Kelly Range. Photo courtesy of Dan Pryce