Temple Col–Goat Pass–Mingha River

1 – 2 March 2020

This weekend was scheduled to be Townsend Hut – Koropuku Hut, a three day trip with Peter Umbers as leader. But the forecast was against us and even with clearing weather, no guarantee we could cross the Otira River at the start of the trip. So we did what we have done increasingly lately; we followed the good weather. Sunday looked ideal with Monday still ok, just. Only a two day window. Temple Col maybe? What a good idea; haven’t been there for ages. Peter, meanwhile, had picked up an injury so that left the three of us.

Derek picked me up at 7.00am and then picked up Kerry. Kerry provided the food and a gas burner, plus we carried a PTC tent fly just in case. Walking from Temple Basin car park at 9.30am, we were up at the day lodge by 10.45am in fantastic weather, to be checked out by the local keas. Continuing on, we sidled up, not initially going high enough to pick up the skiers track leading into the top basin. On the Col about 12.30pm for lunch, it was a great place to be. I hadn’t been over the Col for donkeys’ years. Long enough for memory of travel in the scrub on the true left of the upper Mingha River below us, to have well faded.

Dropping down was pleasant travel to start. Reaching the edge of a drop, we startled SIX red deer. I have read they are in the area in numbers, but it was still a surprise. Which prompts a memory. In the 1970’s the Arthurs Pass series of route guides said of the scrub in the valley below –“just follow the deer trails”. Travelling down there for the first time in Feb 1984, the reaction as we floundered down was “what deer trails?” Kerry had been down there in recent times and preferred to sidle higher for shorter scrub and more tussock. But it still wasn’t easy with steep faces and gullies to traverse. We were very relieved to reach the open ‘terrace’ at the confluence of our west branch and start up the true right of the Mingha River toward Goat Pass.

At Goat Pass Hut the final count was two American, Lisa and James from Christchurch, two French blokes, two German girls on Te Araroa and us. Plus there were eleven from Wellington College camped on the terrace above the hut. Made for an interesting evening.

Monday was a mostly cloudy start with some westerly, but was fairly sunny by early afternoon. We left the hut at 8.30am and found the College group had already gone. Lisa and James were going to try the side trip up to Lake Mavis before walking out. The German girls left just before us but we caught them on the way down.

Kerry and Derek on Temple Col 1774m. Photo courtesy of Merv Meredith

We were aware Mingha Bivvy had been totally upgraded. Very impressive. Middayish and nearing the Bealey, Derek and Kerry continued on so Derek could hitch a lift back to Temple Basin, while I stopped for lunch. Shortly after I got out to Greyneys Shelter, Derek did get a lift from a Dutch tourist. On Derek’s return we loaded his vehicle, then added the German girls and their gear. We dropped them off at the Bealey Pub for them to pick up their food parcel for the next stage of Te Araroa. So after a stop at the café in Springfield we were home at a very civilised hour after two days of very summery weather.

We were Derek Gane, Merv Meredith & Kerry Moore (MM)