Waimakariri Falls Hut – Waimakariri Col – Point 1845m
13 – 15 March 2020
This was a trip with a mission, or two missions. Back in January Diane’s Gorgy Creek trip was planned as a circuit up to the Gorgy Creek lake – over the divide and down to Waimakariri Col – down to the hut and back out down the Waimakariri River. But once up at the lake our group wasn’t too keen on pressing on up an unknown route in the ‘glacial’ snow leading to the divide and likewise, dropping down the other side on ‘glacial’ snow to get to the gentle ridge along pt1845m to the Col. So we opted for a great Plan B that saw us backtrack around the corner and over Bijleveld Col to exit out down the Hunts and Kellys creeks to Otira. Worked out just nicely, although nearly anything would in four days of perfect weather like that. But it left me wondering with the thought that checking the Divide route from the Waimakariri Col side could be enlightening. Then Colin said if you are going he could come too and do a little work on the radio in the Falls Hut. So the trip firmed up as a three day trip with a side trip up to the Col and pt1845m and possibly the divide, on the middle day.
Away from Halswell at 6.30am, we were walking from the Klondyke Corner road end at 9.00am for the long plod up the river. We did the short detour into Carrington Hut, leaving there at 1.30pm. Then somewhere not too far south of the Campbell Creek confluence where we had camped on the Gorgy Creek trip, Ian picked up an unusual injury. A matagouri twig about 4mm diameter, stabbed him deeply above the knee. We cleaned and dressed it and Ian continued on. At the confluence at 3.00pm it was a bit windy and we had time in hand so agreed we would continue on and climb up to the Waimakariri Falls hut for the first night so we had maximum time tomorrow. Colin and I arrived there at 5.50pm, very pleased to be there and to our amazement, greeted by EIGHT Kea. Very healthy looking and behaving very kea like, particularly on the ramp up to the loo. We had the ‘six’ bunk hut to ourselves the first night. I couldn’t get over the solar powered lighting!
Up early for a day trip up to the Col, Ian’s knee had stiffened and although a Plan B would have been to move down to Carrington for a shorter walk out on Sunday, Ian opted to stay at the hut and have a few practice walks about. So Aarn and I went up the valley in perfect weather following plenty of cairns. On the Col at 11.00am, after a break we started up the broad rocky ridge to pt1845m. At 11.20am, we heard the helicopter and saw it land at the hut. Ian had made his own decision. Continuing on with our rock scramble and beyond Pt 1845m, the view of the glacial face between Pts2057 and 2005m got closer. No, it didn’t look very inviting, although we were looking straight at it. Perhaps we could have gone a bit closer, but we chose to retreat and drop in to the upper basin to find a nice spot for an early lunch.
Back down at the hut about 2.30pm in glorious warm weather, we compared notes with Colin then explored the three tarns we had seen from above. The big one was too pristine to touch; the little one nearest the track had a rocky bottom; but the middle one was just right for a soak or scrub up then sit in the sun. What a way to spend a tramping afternoon!
Later afternoon Tomas the Czech turned up but he stopped and set up on a rock 25m short of the hut. Then having eaten he moved to a rock to look down valley until dark. Only then did he come inside and although he could answer questions with brief replies, he hid behind an e-reader. His loss, but a shame. Later afternoon we also had someone pass through headed for the Philly-Rolleston ridge. And then a bit later a couple of young blokes came down. They had given up on Philly-Rolleston ridge, and were happily intent on walking out that night. Or one of them was happy!
The electric light in the hut meant it was easy to go through the full menu that evening
Another glorious day in Paradise in NW conditions, we were away from the hut at 7.50am, passed the Carrington turn off at 11.00am and stopped for lunch just before The Point. The norwester chased us down valley and back to our vehicle at 3.30pm. So home by 6.00pm and a catch up with Ian in the evening.
Once again, we couldn’t go wrong in weather like that. A great three days.
Aarn Tate on Waimakariri Col. Photo courtesy of Merv Meredith
We were: Ian Beale, Merv Meredith (leader), Aarn Tate & Colin Wilmshurst (MM)