Carrington Hut Route

Image: DOC


This 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.

Track overview

Walking and tramping

2 days Expert: Route

Dog access

No dogs

About this track


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 SH73 – Carrington Hut).

Carrington Hut has 36 bunks and 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.

SH73 – Carrington Hut

Time: 4–6 hours

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 (6 bunks). (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.)

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 riverbed, make your own way up the valley. If the Waimakariri is crossable, follow the best route up valley, crossing the river where necessary to above the Greenlaw Creek confluence.

Do not attempt to cross the river if it is high. Use the marked flood route up the true right instead. This is a steep arduous route over bluffs and may also be impassable if the side streams or the Waimakariri are flooded after heavy rain.

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

White River

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

Time: 6–10 hours return

Walk to Waimakariri Falls Hut (6 bunks) through dramatic alpine scenery, with waterfalls running down sheer rock faces to gentle tarn-studded alpine herbfields. It takes 3 to 5 hours to walk from Carrington Hut to Waimakariri Falls Hut. This is a Canterbury Mountaineering Club hut, and is not a DOC hut.  The upper beech forest edge and beginning of the alpine zone are only 1 hour from Carrington Hut. The waterfalls, tussocks and alpine plants you can see there are well worth a visit.

This route passes through several known avalanche paths. During heavy snow conditions we advise visitors not to travel this route unless sufficiently equipped and experienced to assess the snow conditions and choose a safe path through avalanche terrain.

Warning: Waimakariri Falls Hut is located in known avalanche paths. Avalanches are most likely to occur during and following heavy snowfall or rain when snow loading is present on the upper mountain slopes. Do not use this hut during these high-risk periods. Check Arthur's Pass avalanche forecast

 Rolleston River via Waimakariri Col

The route from Waimakariri Falls Hut to the Rolleston River is not managed or inspected by DOC so this route guide has been removed. You must be experienced enough to sort your own mountaineering route across the main divide or contact the Canterbury Mountaineering Club for advice. The recommended crossing point is between Point 1845 and Mt Armstrong as shown on the NZTopo50 map (higher and further northwest of Waimakariri Col).

DO NOT attempt to cross the divide at Waimakariri Col.

Getting there

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.

Know before you go

Experience: Suitable for trampers with high level backcountry skills and experience. River knowledge and crossing skills essential.

Best season: All year

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 must be read in conjunction with Tramping in Arthur's Pass National Park (PDF, 762K), and New Zealand's Outdoor Safety Code. Before setting out, check the latest track conditions and avalanche advisory with the Arthur's Pass Visitor Centre.


Arthur's Pass National Park Visitor Centre
Phone:   +64 3 318 9211
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Address:   106 Main Westcoast Road
Arthur's Pass
Postal Address:   PO Box 51008
Arthur's Pass 7654
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