Enjoy a day leisurely walking up what has to be one of the most beautiful river valleys in New Zealand. The easy elevation profile and proximity to Christchurch in Arthur's Pass make it a great casual adventure.

With peaks rising thousands of meters on every side of you and a wide-open valley to tramp in, the hike to Carrington Hut does feel quite like you're walking in a movie set. After walking a day up the Waimakariri Valley you'll reach this 36-bunk DOC hut, which requires a DOC hut pass to stay the night. To purchase a pass you can stop by the Arthur's Pass visitor center just 10 kilometers farther along the road. To access the trailhead you'll need to navigate to AP National Park, which, no matter the side of New Zealand you come from, will require Highway 73 to accomplish. The trail is called O'Malley's Track, and it begins from a dirt lot that is located off a road immediately at the south end of the Bealey road bridge (the one-way bridge over the Waimak River). Once you locate this lot, the track begins at the west end and will be clearly visible.

Depending on the river levels, there are two options to reach the Carrington Hut. If river levels are high, you'll want to stick with the track that follows the valley in the trees. The track requires that you perpetually ascend and descend small inclines, but ensures that you won't find the river to be too high and have to turn back to the trail anyways. If the river levels are low, you can do the whole hike out in the valley by finding shallow spots to cross the river when necessary. But, the water is cold, the rocks can hurt on your feet, and the water can be deeper than it looks, so choose wisely. You should be comfortable with river crossings if you decide to cut through the valley. It is important to note that even if you stick to O'Malley's Track, you will still spend the majority of the hike out of the trees walking up the valley in the golden grass.

In total the DOC times indicate that the trip will take 4-6 hours to reach Carrington Hut, which we found to be accurate; but cutting corners through the valley will save you time if you're looking to do that. The approximate halfway point is the Anti-Crow Hut, which is a standard 6 bunk hut tucked away in the trees (and it did have water during our trip). This makes for a good lunch spot before you continue up the valley, rounding the corner to complete the second half. After another 2-3 hours hiking, mainly following the easy-to-spot orange markers along the left side of the valley, the trail will reach some cairns to indicate a turn off into the trees and within a couple minutes brings you to Carrington Hut.

The hut is big, spacious, and stocked with plenty of firewood from the surrounding area - enjoy. The next day, return via the same path, or opt to extend your trip further into other valleys. Check out these adventures if that interests you: Overnight at the Baker Hut and Backpack to the Waimak Falls Hut.

Cheers!

Pack List

  • Map 
  • Tramping boots 
  • Sleeping bag 
  • Cooking stove/gear 
  • Rain gear 
  • DOC hut pass/tickets 
  • Sunglasses 
  • 10 essentials
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RT Distance 11 Miles
Elevation Gain 350 Feet
Activities Chillin, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Bathrooms
River
Scenic

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