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Whataroa River


The Whataroa is a major catchment draining peaks on the Main Divide from Mt Elie de Beaumont to the Garden of Eden and offers some wonderfully rugged mountains to climb in. Tracks lead to the head of the main Whataroa and as far as the Redfield Bridge just beyond Scone Creek in the Perth branch, but approaches up the valleys are challenging in themselves, requiring a high standard of fitness and commitment to the walk in. Consequently, not so many people climb here. Of those who do, some bypass the valleys by flying, and some approach over the Divide from the east. The climbing has a wilderness quality to it, and would be approached more often from a transalpine than from a technical climbing perspective. There are some wonderful transalpine routes in the region, such as those along the Price Range, over Whataroa Saddle, from the Butler Valley to the Neish Plateau, and traversing into and out of the Garden of Eden via The Great Unknown.
Climbing on major peaks in the south of the catchment is reasonably serious, offering steep and sometimes long routes (up to 2000 metres height gain). Many climbs along the Main Divide from Elie de Beaumont to McClure Peak are also covered in the NZAC Aoraki Mount Cook guidebook. Yet for those who study maps and photos carefully, there is still scope for challenging new routes, such as recent climbs on the North West Buttress of Mt Whataroa and the North Face of Hochstetter Dome.

POINT (170.417368 -43.299447)
BW16 905 027

Butler Junction Hut (DOC): An eight-bunk hut, woodburner
Whymper Hut (DOC): A six-bunk hut
Stans Hut (community maintained): A four-bunk hut in upper Reynolds Creek
Top Butler Hut (DOC): A six-bunk hut
Nolans Hut (DOC): A historic, basic four-bunk hut in the Perth Valley just beyond Hughes Creek.
Beware of mosquitoes here.
Scone Hut (DOC): A six-bunk hut at the junction of the Perth River and Scone Creek
Road to Whymper Hut
From State Highway 6, follow a gravel road on the true left of the Whataroa River for 1 km to a carpark, DOC sign, and the start of foot access up the valley. The marked access crosses private land and Dave and Bernadette Friend can be contacted for permission (phone 03 753 4091). A rough but regularly maintained track leads up the Whataroa to Butler Junction Hut and then on to Whymper Hut, with breaks on the river stones at Reynolds and Scotts Beaches, and Barrowman Flat. The bridge onto the Gunn Range opposite Jacks Creek has been removed, but bridges cross the Whataroa above the Perth Junction, just below the Butler Junction, and just above Rocky Creek. A bridge also crosses the Butler River near its junction with the Whataroa. If an overnight break is required between Butler Junction Hut and Whymper Hut, there is a reasonable campsite on the true left of Rocky Creek, near the track about 100 metres before the bridge over the Whataroa.
Times: Road to the Perth–Whataroa track junction, 2 hrs; Perth–Whataroa track junction to Butler Junction, 5 ½ hrs; Butler Junction to Whymper Hut, 4 hrs.
Whataroa River to Lake Barrowman
Originally named in 1937 by Apperley, Sweney and Barrowman as Lake Mannering, this lake can be approached easily up a gravel stream bed from glacial flats in the head of the Whataroa, below the Whymper Glacier. There is good camping at the lake outlet.
More useful information at

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Type Name
Valley Perth River
Yvonne Cook and Geoff Spearpoint,
in association with the Canterbury Mountaineering Club