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Wanganui River


About four and a half hours’ drive from Christchurch, the Wanganui Valley leads into the heart of the Adams Wilderness, with good routes into the Gardens ice plateaus in the south and the Bracken Snowfield in the north. The valley also offers a wonderful approach for many transalpine trips, such as those on the Smyth, Lord, and Wilberg Ranges. There are enough facilities to get you started, but after that adventure is everywhere, and you are very much on your own. Many of the peaks are straightforward to climb, but getting to them can be sufficient of a challenge in itself. However, places like the Lord Range also offer harder routes.

POINT (170.807258 -43.212421)
BW17 045 174

Road to Hunters Hut
From SH6 follow a side road on the true right of the Wanganui upstream for 1 km to where a pile of boulders blocks the road. The public road is partly washed out beyond here. Continue along the cliff edge to the road again and follow it over a bridge at Amethyst Ravine to the original DOC carpark just before Canopy Bluff at I34 171780 / BW17 072 164. Follow river boulders up past the quarry, being careful of rocks from above and quarrying activities. A DOC-maintained track begins here and continues intermittently as necessary to Hunters Hut. It stays on the true right all the way to the cableway over the Wanganui. The walk-wire bridge over Hendes Creek has been left high and dry by a stream change, but the stream is crossable in normal flow. Further up, the track climbs 100 metres over Annoyance Bluff. At Jones Flat follow a grassy river channel at the south edge of the bush up to markers and the cableway.
Time : Current carpark to Hunters Hut, 6 hrs.
Upper Wanganui River
The upper Wanganui Valley gives access to the Smyth Range, the Lord Range, Mt Whitcombe, the Bracken Snowfield and Mt Evans.
Hunters Hut to Smyth Hut
From Hunters Hut a maintained DOC track leads up the true left of the Wanganui to Smyth Hut. The track is intermittent, and only maintained where travel becomes more difficult. At Poker Bluff there are two maintained routes, one that requires low river levels and another higher up, sidling across easy slips. Upstream, another marked sidle leads to long stretches of easy flats with short marked bush sections as necessary. Keep an eye out as entrances can be easy to miss. The track reenters the bush some way up Devastation Creek and is well marked through to the hut. Smyth is a well-maintained six-bunk hut with a stove in a sunny location. A small marked track leaves the main track about 5 minutes below Smyth Hut and leads down to the riverbed where there are hot pools in an old channel of the river. They are often well worth a visit.
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Yvonne Cook and Geoff Spearpoint,
in association with the Canterbury Mountaineering Club