Waimakariri River

(5 routes)

Type: 
Valley

Some of the most diverse climbing opportunities exist in the upper Waimakariri River catchment. Several well-placed huts provide excellent bases for all climbing activity from the river valley and its tributaries.

Access: 

Klondyke Corner to Carrington Hut

This is a very popular tramping route for climbers and the many backpackers that also find their way to Carrington Hut, attracted by the dramatic scenery which flanks both sides of the river, and of course the relatively easy nature of the route. Weather very much dictates which route one should take up the Waimakariri River, and whether or not you have an allergy to fording rivers.

In dry weather (when the river is not in high fiow) from Klondyke Corner a route can be picked up the centre of the river flats (this could require three to five crossings of the Waimakariri, and possibly one of the Crow River, depending on both river courses on the day). For those travelling to the Anti Crow River, and upstream, ford the Waimakariri to its southern bank. Staying on the river flats provides the best route around the large rocky knolls at the Anti Crow River confluence. Parties travelling to Anti Crow Hut leave the route where appropriate. A line of sight route is then taken towards the heavily wooded corner on the true left below Greenlaw Creek. Head for the outlet of Greenlaw Creek, and cross the flats towards Harper Creek. Pick up the marked trail on the true left of Harper Creek, following it for only 300m before dropping on a vague but short trail to the Waimakariri flats, skirt the flood debris strewn shingle bank on the true right (next to the Waimakariri), again returning to the riverbed and flats. Head for the obvious bush corner on the true right and follow the entrenched track to Carrington Hut.

Time for this venture from Klondyde Corner is approximately 4 hours.

Note: Greenlaw Hut was removed in 1996 due to earthquake damage.

With persistent wet weather the Waimakariri is not fordable. It should also be noted that several of its tributaries are prone to flooding, in particular Jordan Stream and Anti Crow River. In view of this, a route exists on the southern (true right) bank, from Klondyke Corner to Carrington Hut. This route takes approximately 5 ½ hours. A good track leads from the bridge to Turkey Flat. While crossing the fan stay high to avoid the impenetrable scrub lower down. From the fan, follow the bush edge, picking up a river by-pass track over the bluff just before the Anti Crow Hut. The track continues on through bush and on to the boggy Anti Crow “roche moutonnee”, crossing the Anti Crow and dropping back towards the Waimakariri riverbed (well downstream on the Anti Crow offers the best fording possibilities). The track (if regained) jumps the knoll, then follows close to the Waimakariri riverbed to Greenlaw Creek (alternatively, round the forested knoll, navigating up the valley clear of the Waimakariri torrent). After fording Harper Creek the track re-enters the bush, following a high terrace above the Waimakariri River. Beware of washouts and a notoriously boggy section just prior to the track’s abrupt end at a shingle side-creek. Beyond here regain the river flats of the Waimakariri as the marked trail in the bushline was obliterated by the 1994 earthquake.

Carrington Hut to Waimakariri Falls Hut and Waimakariri Col

Cross the White River near the Waimakariri junction and travel upstream on the true right bank of the Waimakariri River, at first in the riverbed but shortly entering the bush on a well-defined track. The route continues on the true right bank, crossing Campbell Creek in a little over an hour, then turning east towards the gorge at the base of Waimakariri Falls. From here a rough track (staked and cairned) climbs steeply through low dense scrub on the true right side to the footbridge below rock cliffs. Ford the river or cross the swing bridge (an interesting approach) and follow the trail to Waimakariri Falls Hut (3 hours from Carrington Hut).

For those travelling to Waimakariri Col or Mt Rolleston (access off the glacier running from the North West Ridge), head towards the prominent gorge on the true left of the river visible from the hut. When just below the break, cross the river (to true right) and follow a series of scree slopes up diagonally providing a negotiable route around the ravine. Beware of avalanche danger from the ridge running northeast of Carrington Peak. In very low water it is possible to negotiate the ravine using a succession of ramps in the gorge. It is much easier going downstream than up. Once above the gorge, move eastward towards Mt Rolleston or, if heading to Waimakariri Col, continue towards the head of the valley sidling slowly towards the bluffs to the west. About 90m below the ridge turn west and sidle for about 25 minutes (passing a low rocky peak on the ridge running west from Mt Rolleston) to the flat saddle where this ridge disappears under the glacier below Mt Armstrong.

Note: Under winter conditions the route to Waimakariri Falls Hut tends to be difficult to traverse, and find, due to deep snow. Another option (though possibly more difficult) under these conditions is to come in via the Rolleston River from Otira. In good conditions this can take in excess of 7 hours.

This place appears in: 
Arthur’s Pass: a guide for mountaineers

Places

Actions
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Mountain Mt Stewart (4 routes)
Mountain Carrington Pk (4 routes)
Mountain Mt Campbell (1 route)
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