Taipo Easter 30 March – 2 April 2018
Five members, Wayne, Wayne, Christine, Catherine and Ralph set out after work on Thursday 29th departure from Timaru at 5.30pm driving to Rata Lodge Backpackers at Otira. We took 2 cars which meant a car drop off early on Friday morning. Otira was a good half way point for this plan and it was certainly a welcoming and pleasant evening spent to start the trip.
Day 1. Friday as planned with a drive of around 55kms to the western exit car park beside the Taipo River Wayne’s truck was dropped off and with careful distribution of gear and packing into Christine’s car the drive back over the pass to Klondyke corner. There were a number of cars parked in this popular camping spot. The day with clear skies, a rather chilly start to the morning was the most perfect day. We took a line headed up the Waimak river, which was reasonably low so easily crossable to the Anti-Crow Hut for an early lunch break. From here another couple of hours we arrived early at the Carrington Hut. We set ourselves a bed for the night before the crowds arrived a bit later in the afternoon and early evening. A great hut with lots of options for day trips and a good base. It seemed that most of the people here were doing this, or the three passes over this long weekend.
Day 2. Harmon Pass to Julia Hut. The weather forecast for this day was not good and lived up to the predictions. We set out early still some darkness and with cloud and light rain imminent proved definitely a good plan. The route follows the White river, then after crossing this the Tai-poiti river which at this stage of the day was easily crossable. From here a climb up Harmon Pass, a scramble up the steep gorge crossing side to side, now with light rain and cooling temperatures nearing the top gusting cold winds prompted us to keep on walking. Spectacular country at the top, on a nice day would be amazing views with waterfalls, bluffs and rugged country. It was good to get over the top with the weather the way it was, now following a poled track which seemed reasonably well used heading down towards Mary Creek. Some steepish bits with bluffs, screes and low scrubby country following Mary Creek which with the rain water volume increasing as time went on. It was a team effort crossing this creek as the day went on, then with some bush bashing sections of track in between eventually reaching the swing bridge crossing Mary creek close to the confluence with Julia Creek then a short walk to the Julia hut. A long day but all in all a great adventure, light rain persisting for most of the day and easing off by the time we reached the Julia Hut. Julia hut was fully occupied when we arrived there but managed to get into the old Julia Hut (4 bunks) which was very tidy and had a great fire. We were very grateful to have a hut after this big day especially with wet gear etc. it was nice not to have to put up tents.
Day 3. Old Julia Hut to Dillion Hut. We were thankful that the weather had improved immensely by morning, and continues to improve as the day went on. Walking started at 7.40ish. We could smell the sulphur of the hot pools that are close to Julia Huts as we set on our way down the valley, now following the Taipo River. There are 2 Swingbrige crossings before reaching the Mid Taipo Hut which was reached after 2 ½ hours walk. Morning tea break at the hut noting the presence of sand-flies then from here a pleasant walk with varying track crossing grassy flats, gorgy side streams and low level bluffs before an unrelenting scramble up a steep up slip to get around a bluff then equally challenging downward slide to the swing bridge to cross the Taipo. From here a vast change in the surrounds boulder riverbed and scruffy gorse sections. It was great to arrive at Dillon hut at around 4pm and find that beds were available. So lucky despite there being no water available due to a split water tank and no stream close. Water was bucketed from the close old Homestead hut (400m away). Another great day and enjoyable walking.
Day 4. Dillon Hut to SH73 car park. Up and walking early again. Passing the old Homestead hut which is a short distance from the Dillon Hut. Pretty straight forward 4wd track for 2 ½ hours out. Easy and faster walking. Lucky to see deer run out in front of us and bound across the river in the earlier morning. Just a simple climb for the last 45mins over a low saddle arriving at the vehicle around 10.30am. Now the trip home starting with a coffee & pie stop at Arthurs Pass before picking up the car at Klondyke corner. Now an easy drive home arriving around 2.30pm.
This was a great trip for me, thoroughly enjoyed and my thanks to the great team, Wayne, Wayne, Ralph and Catherine.