"You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you" - Isaiah 55:12

2 November 2014

Pinchgut Hut - 26-27 October 2014

After a successful trip up Mt Richardson earlier in the year, a test run to see if Toby was up to overnight tramping yet, we arranged for an easy trip to Pinchgut Hut, located in the North Canterbury foothills on the northern side of Mt Thomas.

The tramp began with a crossing of the Okuku River, an easy proposition for us adults, but a daunting one for 9 year old Toby. After a few moments of preparation, we linked up and entered the gently flowing water. As expected it was an easy crossing, and it was pleasing to see Toby's look of achievement once safely on the other side.
From here we set off along the track. The old sign at the start of the track indicates it's 4-6 hours to Pinchgut Hut - this is most definitely wrong, and even the times posted on DOC's website (3-5hrs) are generous to say the least.
Initially we followed farm tracks for a short distance before emerging back at the river. From here the track narrowed but is benched and so makes for comfortable tramping. It is however what I would describe as being a true tramping track, rough in places and requiring some attention on the part of the tramper, certainly not one of the well manicured highways that can be found on more popular tramps around the country.
The track kept to the true right of the Okuku River, staying close to the river, and after about 2 hours dropped back down to the riverbed immediately before Whare Stream. Our progress had been a little slow, with Toby finding his feet on a rougher track than he had previously encountered, and average adult parties would probably reach here in 90 minutes or so.
After a short section of boulder hopping to regain the track we began the only climb of the day. I was pleasantly surprised we were this far on already, knowing that the hut was just a short climb then a sidle round a spur away. We climbed steeply at first, then began the sidle round to the hut. The line of the track differs slightly than that marked on Topo50 BW23, and I've endeavoured to indicate the current line as best I can on the map with this post.
The climb was straight forward but in the afternoon sun was quite hot, particularly once we had sidled round the spur onto north facing slopes. Knowing it wasn't too far though spurred everyone on, and when we reached the sign marking a track junction I knew the hut was just round the corner - literally as it turned out!

We arrived to find 2 other parties already there, a group of 4 from Christchurch, and a couple from Rangiora, meaning that our arrival accounted for all 9 bunks. However, despite there being 9 bunks, there was only 7 mattresses. Offers to squeeze up were made, but past experience has shown us that that often proves more problematic. Toby was keen to try out his new sleeping mat, and found a spot of his own under the bunks. Julia soon joined him, swayed perhaps by the potential coolness down there in what was quite a warm hut.

As evening rolled round the Christchurch party set to work getting a campfire going in the pit outside, and Toby soon busied himself collecting wood then spent most of the evening throwing wood and leaves onto it, enjoying the roar as it all went up in flames. Sitting round an outside campfire is one of life's many pleasures, all we were missing was the marshmallows!

Light rain set in overnight and lingered through most of the next day, and while not heavy it was enough to get wet. Concerns over a wet, slippery track were soon overcome, and we made good time on the return trip, with Toby being noticeably more confident. There was not even a moment's hesitation at fording the river at the end of the trip.

All in all, a great little trip away, tempered only by the lack of sleep as Toby had found it a little chilly on the floor after all - now we have to organise the next one!

Final check before setting out

Toby pleased to have made it across the Okuku River

Typical conditions on the track

Alongside the Okuku River

Slowish progress as Toby negotiates many firsts

One of many pools in the Okuku River

Snack stop above the Okuku River

The attractive Okuku River

Attractive Julia alongside the Okuku River

Toby sampling the crystal clear water

Hopping along the Okuku River, just before the climb

Arriving at Pinchgut Hut

Pinchgut Hut and the crew around the campfire
Breakfast at Pinchgut Hut
Toby discovering hut life at Pinchgut Hut

A wet bunch making our way out down the Okuku River

Less sparkly in the rain, but still nice

Snack stop

Okuku River

Crown Copyright - Land Information NZ

Access: Drive through Loburn to Whiterock and turn left onto Taaffes Glen Rd. Follow the road, crossing 2 easy fords before parking in a grassy clearing before the road drops down to the Okuku River.

Time: Car to Pinchgut Hut 2-3hrs

Map: BW23 Cust

Hut: Pinchgut Hut (9 bunks)