[by David Noble]

Photos of the trip can be accessed by this page – http://www.david-noble.net/NZ/Jan07/NZJan2007.html

I flew over to Christchurch on 5 Jan and was planning to meet up with Rachael Murphy about 6 days later.

That gave me a bit of time for a walk – so I went by bus to Lewis Pass to do the St James Walkway. “Walkways” are fairly easy walks – and this one certainly wasn’t hard – but it was very pleasant. The walk was a loop. I had chosen to start from the Boyle River end and this meant that I would finish at Lewis Pass itself.

The bus dropped me off about lunchtime – and that gave me plenty of time to walk up the Boyle River to the first hut at Boyle River Flat. The walking being up a gentle river valley as not too strenuous – and river crossings were easy on nice suspension bridges. The wildflowers were very impressive. At the first hut – there were 10 other people – one family group and another party of 5. The hut was fairly modern and could sleep 20 people. Next morning I continued up the Boyle River and over a low saddle into the Anne River Valley. The upper Boyle River was very beautiful and the meadows were full of flowers. The Anne River was equally beautiful. The weather was not too bad – it was overcast with mist on the tops, but still and dry.

The second night – I had the hut to myself – at Anne River. Next morning – the weather had become a little wet – light rain fell intermittently during the day. The walk continued down the Anne River until it joined a larger stream – the Henry River which was crossed via an impressive suspension bridge. The rest of the days walk bordered the large Ada cattle station – but the views of the mountains that towered above were great. The most impressive peak was The Faerie Queen in the Spenser Mountains. At lunchtime, I arrived at Christopher Hut – just in time to meet another party heading off for Waiui Pass – a trip I had been on with Rob Hynes back in the 90’s. With more rain falling in the afternoon I decided to stay in the very comfortable Christopher Hut that night. Two other walkers turned up to share the hut.

On the 4th day – I walked over the very gently Ada Pass to Ada Hut and then continued to Cannibal Hut for a late lunch – and a lazy afternoon. It was wet all this day – and mist had enveloped all the nearby peaks. But the forest and valleys were still very attractive. Again – two other walkers shared the hut.

On the last day – again wet, I continued down cannibal Gorge to Lewis Pass. Most of this walk is in pleasant beech forest – and I was fairly sheltered from the rain. At Lewis Pass – there was a nice little shelter to wait out of the rain for the bus back to Christchurch.

Back in Christchurch – I met up with Rachael the next morning (she had arrived on a late flight) – and we spent the day in the city. We visited the botanical gardens and museum, saw the wizard in the square and bought food and gas for our next walk. We had planned to go to Wanaka – but on the way – we stopped off at Mt Cook village for 2 days. When we arrived there – it was raining and there were no views. We walked the half hour track to the camping area – and spent most of the afternoon in the nice dry shelter shed.

After a wet night – we set off next morning in mist and drizzle for Mueller Hut – high on a ridge above the camping area. On the way up – the weather improved and by the time we were at the hut the sun was out. We had nice views of nearby peaks – and later of Mt Cook as it emerged out of the cloud. Next morning we had time for a walk up the Hooker Glacier to the terminal lake before heading back to the village and our bus to Wanaka.

At Wanaka – we camped in the local camping area – and next morning ran into fellow SUBW’ers Dave Lee, Nicole, Juri and Cat at the local DOC (Dept of Conservation) Office. They were about to set off on a walk starting near ours – so we were able to charter an earlier shuttle bus to take us up the Matukituki River.

The others were heading up the east branch of the river and we farewelled them and set off up the west branch for Aspiring Hut. The weather was perfect – fine and sunny. We reached the hut in the mid afternoon and had time to start our climb up Cascade Saddle. We had heard about a good campsite at the bushline – and sure enough there was one. And – just above – there were fine views to be had of Mt Rob Roy, Mt Aspiring (Tititea) and Mt Bevan. Next morning – it was clear – but after breakfast some mist drifted in – and as we set off we had no views at all. We climbed up steep snow grass slopes and as we climbed we suddenly emerged out of the mist and into a fantastic landscape of snow capped peaks.

We spent some time at Cascade Saddle admiring the views – and met Anne (from SU Climbing Club) and her friend coming back from a mountaineering trip to Liverpool Peak. We then descended to the Dart Glacier – or rather what is left of it – much of it has receded during recent years. Later in the afternoon we arrived at a large hut on the Dart River where we spent the night. The hut was full of other walkers and trampers – from NZ and overseas.

The area near the hut was so nice that we were reluctant to leave – so we decided to just do a side trip that day to Rees Saddle. This proved to be a good option – as the walk to the saddle was interesting and there were many good views. The next two days we spent walking down the Dart River. This was easy pleasant walking. On the way – we stayed in Daleys Flat Hut – and were glad to be indoors away from the many sand-flies outside. At the trackhead – we were able to get a lift to Queenstown thanks to some local trampers.

After a day in Queenstown – Rachael headed off to Te Anau and Milford Sound (and later a walk down the Greenstone and Capples valleys) – while I headed of on a bus up the west coast to Greymouth and then to Arthurs Pass. I spent a few days doing day walks at Arthurs Pass. I was advised by the rangers at the DOC office not to do overnight walks that required river crossings due to a bad weather forecast. As it turned out – the weather was actually not too bad – and I had two and half pleasant days camped in Arthurs Pass village. While there – I met up again with Anne and her friend that we had seen at Cascade Saddle and another acquaintance from Sydney – Lani. She was with two other girls on a great adventure – walking (and kayaking) the entire length of the South Island of NZ. They had started much earlier from the very south of the island and were now more than half way on there trip and had completed most of the difficult passes and river crossings. You can find out more about their trip by looking at –


After Arthurs Pass – I caught a bus to Christchurch and then flew back to Sydney.

Dave Noble