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           Home >  Regions  > Canterbury North  :

Tramp to Goat Pass in the Arthur's Pass National Park

Dorothy -- 26/01/2007

On New Year's Eve 2006 a group of fourteen friends from the Chinese Church in Christchurch decided to celebrate the coming of the New Year in a different way. They tramped from Highway 73 following the Mingha River to Goat Pass in Arthur's Pass National Park in the Southern Alps, and stayed at the Goat Pass Hut before returning to Highway 73 the following day. The hut is 1055 metres above sea level.


The group of trampers in the hut
The group of trampers in the hut

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I interviewed Franko Yang who was a member of the party.


Franko Yang
Franko Yang

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The tramp is estimated to take at least five hours each way. The group was fortunate in several respects.

There was room to park the cars in the area provided at Greyneys shelter.

They did not have to tramp through rain although they did not have sunshine which would have added interest to the views in their photographs.

The river levels meant that crossings were not treacherous. .Flooded conditions in the area would have made crossing rivers and streams dangerous and difficult.

They arrived at the hut and found that there was room for their party to sleep in the hut and have a bunk each. It is not possible to book places in the very popular 20-bed hut, but only four people were already in residence. The group had carried tents in case there was no room in the hut, but these were not needed.


The Goat Pass hut and toilet
The Goat Pass hut and toilet

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Bunks inside the hut
Bunks inside the hut

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The preparations needed for the trip
I talked to Franko about the necessary preparations for such a trip. He stressed the importance of ensuring that all the party had had some tramping experience and a sufficient level of fitness for five hours of tramping, some of it over difficult ground.

All members of the group should be given a map and a detailed account of the route to be followed.

All people planning to use the hut should buy a hut ticket from the Arthur's Pass Department of Conservation Information Centre. The charge for use of the hut is NZ$5.00 per person per night. Some people who plan to do a number of tramps buy a Backcountry Hut Pass .

Equipment should include:
sufficient tents to house the whole party if the hut is full, gas stoves for cooking and for this group a rice cooker
sleeping bags
sufficient food for the planned length of the trip, plus extra in case the party is delayed by weather or injury. Food should include an energy source like chocolate.
clean drinking water (water should not be drunk from streams or lakes)
mugs, plates and eating and cooking utensils
waterproof jackets, warm clothing, warm hats, sun hats, woollen socks, and good tramping boots
sun block and insect repellent
torches
first aid kit

All this added up to a heavily loaded pack, which added to the difficulty on rocky sections of the track.


The heavy pack makes climbing up the rocks difficult
The heavy pack makes climbing up the rocks difficult

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The warm clothing is particularly important because the Goat Pass hut has no heating and temperatures in the mountains can be very cold, especially at night, even in summer.

Forecasts for weather and river levels should be checked and the group's plans should be entered in the intentions book at the Arthur's Pass Department of Conservation Information Centre. Make sure that you also fill in your safe return.

The route from Highway 73 to Goat Pass
From the starting point on Highway 73, at Greyneys Shelter, 5km south of Arthur's Pass village, walk north for ten minutes until you cross the Bealey River just above its confluence with the Mingha River.

The riverbed was colourful with lupins in flower. The lupins are not native flowers, but once introduced flourish in the New Zealand climate. The spread of lupins has become a source of anxiety as they can enter streams and impede the flow of the water.


The colourful riverbed with lupins in flower
The colourful riverbed with lupins in flower

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This crossing should not be attempted in times of flood. If you cannot cross the river here postpone your trip. Do not try to cross the river on the railway bridge. If the level of the first river is too high you will run into other difficulties with the other crossings.

Walk around the Mingha corner crossing a small side stream onto the Mingha River flats. Then travel up the true right in the river-bed, fording the river twice, until the river approaches a narrow gorge.


a new and memorable experience for Franko
Some of the party crossing the river - a new and memorable experience for Franko

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Just past a side creek on the true right, a marked track enters the bush on that side and climbs well above the gorge onto Dudley Knob.


The track passes through native bush and over mossy ground
The track passes through native bush and over mossy ground

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It then descends via a series of board walks and steps towards the river, keeping still within the bushline.


Steps are cut in the steep slope towards the river
Steps are cut in the steep slope towards the river

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Once the track emerges from the scrub, a short distance upstream on the true right is the Mingha Biv (2 bunks). From here a cut track again follows the true right river bank, passing Kennedy Falls, and there is another crossing of the Mingha River.


View of the Kennedy Falls
View of the Kennedy Falls

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The track then goes through subalpine scrub on the true left of Goat Pass Stream, leading onto the long board walk through boggy sections.


Extensive board walks make walking easy over boggy ground
Extensive board walks make walking easy over boggy ground

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After a crossing of Lake Mavis Stream the tramper reaches the wide, flat Goat Pass. The Goat Pass Hut is in a hollow just north of the pass.

Total time from Highway 73 to the Hut is about 5 hours in low water conditions.

This walk is almost impossible in times of heavy rain, or rapid snow melt!

Crossing the Mingha River, and Lake Mavis Stream can be quite dangerous when they are in flood.

Special memories of the trip
For Franko the unforgettable memories would be of the river crossings, the bush and the mountain views, and the comradeship.

Photos for this article were taken by Franko Yang.

Editor's comment
Readers who have tramped in Arthur's Pass National Park please share your experiences with other readers. To do this you need to be a member of NZine. Membership is FREE and joining takes a very short time.

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