IntroductionThis route up the braided river-bed of the Waimakariri leads to a comfortable hut situated below the park’s highest peaks. Carrington Hut is a good base for exploring the upper Waimakariri catchment.
SH73 – Carrington Hut
Time: 4–6 hours
The track to Carrington Hut is broken beyond Anti Crow hut with a compulsory crossing of the Waimakariri River. If the river is high then it may not be possible to get beyond this point
Rivers and major side streams can rise quickly and become dangerous. Ensure you have the latest weather information and are confident in reading rivers and know how to cross them.
There are two options to reach Carrington Hut, depending on whether the river is high or low - see descriptions below.
Carrington Hut has a radio which is monitored by Arthur’s Pass Visitor Centre during office hours, 7 days a week. There is a wood stove for heating but you will need your own cooker and utensils.
From the hut you can take day trips to the White River or to Waimakariri Falls Hut. The Harman Pass and the 3 Passes routes also start from this hut and are detailed in separate guides.
Note: Greenlaw Hut and some track sections marked on various maps no longer exist.
When the Waimakariri River is low
From the western side of Klondyke Corner a 2 km gravel road leads to the riverbed. The quickest way to Carrington Hut is to head straight up the Waimakariri valley from this point, cutting corners and crossing the river where necessary. Aim for the lower edges of Turkey Flat. From there, either continue up the riverbed, or pick up the track behind Anti Crow Hut or at Anti Crow River.
If you prefer to continue up the riverbed, cross Waimakariri River below Greenlaw Creek, to the true left. Cross back to the true right by Harper Creek. Follow the riverbed upstream to Carrington Hut.
When the Waimakariri River is difficult to cross
Leave SH73 on the true right of the Waimakariri River, immediately south of the road bridge over the river. A well-marked track (known as O’Malley Track) passes above bluffs to Turkey Flat by Jordan Stream. From here follow pole markers across the flats, staying high to avoid the thorny native matagouri shrubs lower down. Once past the flats, follow the bush edge to Anti Crow Hut. A 400 metre section of track leading to the hut from the end of the flats can be used when the river is in flood.
Anti Crow Hut
Continue along the track behind Anti Crow Hut through beech forest. The track crosses a small stream by the foundations of the original Anti Crow Hut. As you reach Anti Crow River, look for a safe place to cross.
The hard rocky knolls you cross are called roche moutonnée (French for sheep’s back). Thousands of years ago, when glaciers covered this area, the moving ice of the glacier sculpted these outcrops of hard rock. The track drops down to the Waimakariri riverbed 2 km before Greenlaw Creek.
Where the track ends in the river bed is around about the best location for crossing the Waimakariri River. This can change after flood damage so some searching for the best crossing may be necessary. It may not be possible to get beyond this point if the river is high or in flood. Do not attempt to cross the river if it is high.
When the Greenlaw and Harper creeks are high, both are dangerous crossings. If you are unsure about any of the crossings in this area, it is safest to wait for river levels to drop. Camp or return to the nearest hut if it is safe to do so.
The track beyond Harper Creek is well marked although the riverbed provides the fastest route, conditions permitting.
As you get closer to Carrington Hut, keep an eye out for the serrated top of Carrington Peak. Just before White River joins the Waimakariri, a short section of marked track leads to Carrington Hut, marked by a large cairn and orange marker.
Day trips from Carrington Hut
Time: 6–7 hours return
The trip up the White Valley is an enjoyable day walk of up to 6 to 7 hours return. After crossing the White River at or above the old Clough Cableway, stay on the true left of the river. At the head of the valley there is a steep unmarked route up to CMC’s Barker Hut. This last part of the valley, by the bluffs, is recommended only for experienced parties.
Waimakariri Falls Hut
The route to Waimakriri Falls Hut is covered by the Waimakariri Falls Hut to Rolleston River route.
The trip starts at SH73 on the true right of the Waimakariri River, just south of the Bealey road bridge (about 10 km east of Arthur's Pass village). The route follows O'Malleys Track for the first stage of the trip.
Experience: Suitable for trampers with high level backcountry skills and experience. River knowledge and crossing skills essential. How to cross a river safely
Required map: NZTopo50: Otira BV20
Hazards: Flooded rivers, and avalanche risk on day trips above Carrington Hut
Note: True left and true right refer to the side of the valley or river when facing and looking downstream.
Safety: This route guide should be read in conjunction with Tramping in Arthur's Pass National Park (PDF, 762K), and New Zealand's Land Safety Code. Before setting out, check the latest track conditions and avalanche advisory with the Arthur's Pass Visitor Centre.
Stay safe when crossing rivers
If you plan to cross unbridged rivers, know how to cross safely and be prepared for if you cannot cross.
Do not cross if the river is flooded, you cannot find safe entry and exit points or are unsure it’s safe. Turn back or wait for the river to drop. If in doubt, stay out.