13-14 May 2023
On arrival at the Hawdon Shelter, we were horrified to see so many cars parked. It looked like we needed to take two tents in case the hut was full. Eight people shouldered packs and headed to the Hawdon River, climbing down the end of a rock wall flood barrier. We crossed upstream where the river flow was flatter and wider. The track on the opposite bank started at a fence so we climbed over the stile and were soon crossing Sudden Valley Stream. The track followed easily through attractive bush, and the sun started to push through the cloud, though the wind blew cold most of the day. We noticed a pole slightly downstream on the opposite side of the river, so Sonya and Mary headed there whilst the rest of us stayed on the uneven true right. We regrouped only to find another river crossing inevitable, then suddenly there was the track emerging from the bush. We should have crossed to it on the true left, well before the East Hawdon flow in, where Mary and Sonya had crossed.
Back on the true right we had lunch, trying to shelter from the worst of the wind, then made a final push on to the hut. It was great to be welcomed by Honora and Frank who had changed their plans due to the weather and slips in the East Hawdon. Our tents weren’t needed as the hut occupancy reached a mere 12. It was a slow trip in, so everyone was happy to relax with hot drinks, a warm fire and nibbles provided by Sonya, rather than climbing to the clag on Walker Pass. Dinner was lamb or lentil curry, chicken and potato, Christmas pud, custard and cream thanks to Norman.
Later in the evening a DoC scientist stopped in after spending her day checking kākāriki karaka (orange-fronted parakeets) in the valley. Predator control and captive breeding have aided the return of these birds in the Hawdon, Poulter and Andrews valleys, Arthurs Pass and South Hurunui Lake Sumner Forest Park. See birds online.
Our return to the cars on the track only took 3 hours, so we had plenty of time for refreshments at Springfield; then home mid-afternoon on a glorious sunny Sunday.
We were: Mary McKeown, Sonya Donaldson, Norman Burden, Reza Remati, Mike O’Neill, Valerie Saxton, Graham Townsend and Chris Leaver [CL]