Use Arahura River route, not Styx Valley if less experienced tramper
The Styx River route is now very difficult in its mid/lower reaches due to massive landslides forcing river crossings in very poor locations. Less experienced trampers should use the Arahura River route, Mudflats Hut / Lower Arahura Hut, to the Milltown Road.
Very experienced trampers could go via Mid Styx Hut and the roughly marked Tyndall Creek route back into the Styx River; further river crossings of the Styx should be chosen well, and the river must be low!
Whitehorn Pass ice-field collapse
The ice-field on the northeastern side of Whitehorn Pass is beginning to collapse. Access at the base of the ice-field is on the true-left to avoid thin, unstable ice-bridging. Parties travelling west to east need to take additional care when navigating this section.
There is considerable loose rock along the perimeter of the ice, and between ice sections requiring care.
Ice-axe & crampons should be carried, and parties making this crossing should be very experienced travelling on snow & ice.
Three Pass Trip
1) Major landslides in the lower Styx River force trampers to cross the river in very poor locations; it is advised to use the Arahura River route until further notice.
2) There is a fresh slip about 20min west of Park Morpeth Hut (400m upstream of Bauckes Creek), if Wilberforce River is too high to cross here it will require a substantial bush-bash to bypass.
3) The Whitehorn ice-field collapsed completely in January 2019. This was the first time this has happened in 10's of thousands of years, it exposed considerable unstable rock. With climate change events like this may become more frequent, absolute care is required if the ice is breaking up, or completely gone!
TIME : 4-5 DAYS
FEATURES : Three passes and four river valleys and an alpine lake gives lots of variety on this classic tramp.
MAPS : NZTopo50: Otira BV20, Kaniere BV19 (NZMS260: Otira K33, Wilberforce K34, Kaniere J33)
HOW HARD IS IT?
You'll need an ice-axe all year round just in case the snow-fields (Whitehorn Pass) are actually ice, crampons are advisable in winter through to early summer.
You need good river-reading and map-reading skills.
USEFUL PHONE NUMBERS
Hokitika Taxis: 03-755 5075
Carrington Hut: 36 bunks (DOC Serviced)
Park Morpeth Hut: 6 bunks (CMC $10/night)
Harman hut: 6 bunks (DOC Standard)
Grassy Flats Hut: 6 bunks((DOC Standard)
Mudflats Hut: 6 bunks((DOC Standard)
Lower Arahura Hut: : 6 bunks((DOC Standard)
Please note that in winter to early summer a large ice/snow cornice may appear at the head of the "scree" route onto/off Browning Pass. A very steep rock rib on the true-left is an alternative route however it may be icy or have loose snow, climbing skills may be required!
1. Ascend Taipo River, Mary Creek to Harman Pass, then continue to Whitehorn Pass.
2. From Lake Browning, ascend ridge towards Mt Harman, drop down into head of Julia Creek, Julia Hut, then out via Mary Creek - Harman Pass - Waimakariri River, or descend the Taipo River to SH.73.
3. From the Arahura River, cross the swing-bridge to Newton Creek Hut. Return via Newton Saddle, Dunns Creek Hut to the Taipo River. Note that this route is overgrown, and can be difficult navigation in poor weather conditions.
So you have an enjoyable and safe time during your visit to Arthur's Pass National Park follow these 5 simple rules...
1. PLAN YOUR TRIP
Seek local knowledge and plan the route you will take and the amount of time you can reasonably expect it to take.
2. TELL SOMEONE
Tell someone your plans and leave a date to raise the alarm if you haven't returned. Visit the AdventureSmart Website to file an intentions form with someone you trust!
3. BE AWARE OF THE WEATHER
New Zealand's weather can be highly unpredictable. Check the forecast and expect weather changes. Check out the Arthur's Pass Weather Forecast here.
4. KNOW YOUR LIMITS
Challenge yourself within your physical limits and experience. Learn safe ways of rescuing others without putting yourself in danger.
5. TAKE SUFFICIENT SUPPLIES
Make sure you have enough food, clothing, equipment and emergency rations for the worst-case scenario. Take an appropriate means of communication.
For more information, visit www.adventuresmart.org.nz/land-adventures