A Snowy River Adventure
9th – 11th January 2020
The Snowy River (Eastern Waiotauru) initially flows west down the slopes of Mount Hector, and then turns northwest before merging with the Waiotauru River. Its catchment has no tracks shown on the map. Club trips have occasionally visited the catchment. Our primary purpose was one of exploration/investigation, so the resultant trip did not have the usual structured time-management.
We departed the Otaki Forks road end at 2 p.m. and proceeded to Waiotauru Forks. The Snowy valley can be navigated from the aforementioned forks to the junction with Tregear Creek via logging road formations – first on the true left and then on the true right.
Upstream from the Tregear Creek junction there are initially two travel options – the watercourse, and a remnant logging road formation. If the water level is low, the watercourse option can be pleasant in warm-weather – but be prepared for a swim where the river narrows dramatically. The logging road option is on the true right and is an up-over-down plod to take you to the junction with the un-named stream flowing north from the slopes of Elder. We took the logging road option. Thereafter the watercourse was easily travelled.
Just prior to reaching the site of the Snowy Hut (a non-DoC hut open to all and regularly used by hunters), we heard the sound of a shot from up-valley. Taking a cautious approach, we decided to set up our fly and stay the night on the river flat. With minimal effort we gathered sufficient wood for both evening and breakfast cooking fires.
The next morning was a blue-dome day and we continued up the watercourse with ease – encountering no one at the hut or in the valley; only occasional footprints.
About a kilometre upstream from our campsite, we encountered vegetative carnage in the riverbed and soon afterwards the site of a huge slip. It was obvious that the slip had temporarily impacted the stream flow. Our progress resumed normality for a while thereafter.
About two kilometres upstream from the slip, the nature of the watercourse began to change and it offered more challenging travel. After a food break, we persisted for about an hour as the watercourse took on the nature of headwaters with boulders, small waterfalls, and very few gravel terraces.
We dropped packs on a small, flat terrace (about 600 metres above sea level) that could accommodate two, and went exploring upstream. The terrain did not get any friendlier.
With consideration given to the time of day, our small quantity of gas (enough for only one meal), energy levels, and the anticipated exit option, we decided to collect wood and set up the fly on the terrace.
The next day was another blue-dome delight. We clambered straight up the initially quite steep slope out of the watercourse on the true right and reached the crown of Tregear spur not far below the bush edge, before continuing up to the shoulder of Field peak and hence to Kime Hut.
We had a relaxed lunch in calm, sunny conditions on the deck of Kime, and then it was over Hut Mound and down the familiar track to Otaki Forks. Another adventure completed in new territory for us both.
- Party members
- Bill Allcock (scribe), Tricia French