Arthurs Pass – Otehake River

23-25 April 2022

A last minute change from the programme due to unfavourable weather predictions saw this trip going to the hot spring located in the Otehake River instead. Only 3 of us met up at the Morrison Footbridge at 8.30am on the Saturday, 2 had stayed the night at Arthur’s Pass Village, the other 1 coming from Greymouth. We opted to drive back to the Aicken Car park for a river crossing across the Otira River instead of taking the 4 hr walk  from the Morrison Footbridge.
A pleasant walk ensued up the valley, interrupted only by a careful negotiation around an deep creek/rock feature known to some as Maurice’s Hole, named after a current member on a previous trip who had explored its full depth.
Morning tea at the turnoff to Lake Kaurapataka and on through some of the most beautiful bush anywhere to the open space half way along the length of the lake. Some of the biggest red beech trees are to be found here in a lush setting of ferns. Lunch at the lake and then on to the Otehake.
The river was high and the crossings through the gorge setting were deep and challenging and sucked the energy right out of us. It was good to arrive at the spring, quickly establishing our camp we excavated an existing hole to deliver a good supply of hot water and dammed out some of the cold running in and quite quickly we had a pool big enough for 3. Bliss! We spent some time getting wood and got a decent fire going as a focal point for the usual round of tales which saw us last until well into the night…about 8. Night time hot bath and off to the sleeping bag for a good 12 hour lie down.

It drizzled in the night and the morning was wet, so it was decided that a camp out at Lake Kaurapataka, would also be very nice. We set off with a deep river crossing near the camp and stayed on that side of the river until eventually coming across the track leading back to the lake. This was the high water route and brings you back to the top of a little pass in between the lake and the river, not a track for the fainthearted, with lots of challenges and very steep.
It drizzled in between sunny patches throughout the day some of the drizzly patches were utilized with naps in our tents, but by dinnertime things had dried off and challenged ourselves with the job of making a fire, not easy with wet wood, but with persistence and the help of a fire lighter we achieved this minor miracle and enjoyed the warmth while we ate and talked some more.
During the night the sound of Ruru and Kiwi as well the snuffling and calling of the resident Wekas around our tents kept us company.. all was good. The birds were constant and amazing, from the inquisitive robins to even the call of the Karearea.

Morning was perfect.. mist on the lake, reflections of trees and mountains, no crowds, lots of bird sound and the Wekas.
After packing up we walked back to the car, nice walk again.
We did not change as usual but drove in our tramping gear back to Cave Stream near Castle Hill, shedding anything you didn’t want to get wet and donning our torches, we had a walk/ clamber through the over 500m meters of the cave. The water was deep in places, chest height and cold especially at the beginning, it rushes the whole time quite fast and waterfalls to clamber over. An eel, a fish and a spider were seen. It’s a very noisy place and it was some relief to finally come to the other end and sun shine.
It is a very impressive experience for anyone brave enough, the deep water being a challenge.
Very chuffed with ourselves we set off home after finally changing into our dry day clothes, stopping only in Stavely for a nice cuppa.
Thanks for a magic trip Julian and Jenny.
Robbie