Bealey River - Mingha River - Goat Pass Hut
Time: 5 hr
Five kilometres south of Arthur’s Pass village, cross Bealey River near its confluence with Mingha River. The rivers are constantly changing course so you will need to find the best place to cross. If Bealey River is too high to ford, postpone the trip. Do not use the Bealey rail bridge to get to the Mingha.
Once across Bealey River go up the Mingha riverbed, crossing the river as necessary for about an hour until the river narrows to a gorge. Just past a side creek on the true right, a marked track enters the bush on that (western) side. The track climbs well above the gorge on to Dudley Knob, and then makes its way back to the river close to the bush line.
Parties travelling down the Mingha should ensure they find the track—the gorge is very difficult to negotiate.) Take care above Agility Creek as the track runs close to the edge of steep drop-offs and bluffs.
Shortly after the track emerges from the bush there is small hut (Mingha Biv – 2 bunks). From here follow the marked trail, crossing Mingha River where it bends west towards Temple Col and is met by the stream running down from Goat Pass.
The marked track resumes here through subalpine scrub on the true left of Goat Pass Stream, leading onto boardwalk across the boggy sections. The track continues across sections of boardwalk through to the obvious summit of Goat Pass. Goat Pass Hut (20 bunks, no heating or cooking facilities) is in a hollow just north of the pass. Total time from the main road to the hut—about 5 hours.
Goat Pass Hut has a radio linked to Arthur’s Pass Visitor Centre. Calls can be made during office hours for weather forecasts and information.
Lake Mavis - side trip
For parties with time in hand at Goat Pass, the climb to Lake Mavis is worthwhile in summer. Climb the steep tussock and scree on the spur running east from Goat Pass, then follow the cairned ridge route—perhaps the easiest access to a high-level lake in the park. The climb to the lake is about 500 metres and takes about 2 hours.
This area is subject to avalanche activity during the winter. During heavy snow conditions, we advise visitors not to travel this route unless sufficiently equipped and experienced to assess the conditions and choose a safe path through avalanche terrain.
Goat Pass Hut - Deception River - Highway 73
Time: 8 - 9 hr
Follow the marked route down a creek bed through scrub into the upper Deception River. The route now involves scrambling and boulder-hopping down the riverbed and through adjacent bush (sometimes on distinct bits of track which may be marked). Upper Deception Hut (six bunks) is reached in just over an hour, before Good Luck Creek on the true right bank. It is very easy to miss this hut on its scrub-covered river terrace.
Continue in or beside the riverbed for a further 2 hours 30 minutes until it opens out into a large flat on the true left just below Gorge Creek. Below this flat the river passes a small, warm, sulphur-smelling spring then narrows to the gates of the lower gorge. In normal conditions continue on down the lower gorge for two hours or more to the open flat where the Deception meets Otira River.
The footbridge across the Otira is just north of the confluence (i.e. on the true right bank of the Deception).
The Mingha-Deception route forms the run leg of New Zealand’s most iconic multi-sport race—the Coast to Coast. It is not uncommon in spring and summer to come across people training for the event, running from west to east. Race Director, Robin Judkins,
sponsors a programme to protect blue duck/whio in these valleys. Any sightings of blue duck should be reported to staff at the DOC Visitor Centre in Arthur’s Pass.
Warning: Both the Mingha and the Deception rivers (especially the latter) can be dangerous. Do not attempt this trip when these rivers are high or when bad weather is forecast. Descent of Deception River will require up to 30 compulsory river crossings.
South Island ▷ Canterbury ▷ Springfield
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