Arthurs Pass Christmas 1967

ImageThe club trip for that year, led by Walter and Cynthia Lennie, really started on a very wet Christmas Eve, with the party of eleven assembling on the Christchurch railway station. The intention was to take the train to Arthurs Pass, the starting point for the trip, but there was no train.



With help from Christchurch friends who provided two cars and a truck, a camp was eventually established near the public shelter at Klondyke corner seven miles below Arthurs Pass.

During the next few days, the party, after celebrating Christmas at the Greenlaw Hut half way up the Waimakariri River, tramped back to the Crow River tributary to view the icefall below Mt Rolleston and stay at the new Avalanche Hut. the group then shifted base further upstream to the White River junction in the area of Carrington Hut.

Harman Pass on the Divide was visited from this base, the more energetic also climbing Mt Campbell (5965 feet). Later the party descended from the Pass into the Taipo River, on the Westland side of the Divide, to locate the hot mineral springs below the junction  of the Julia and Mary Creeks, two tributaries of the Taipo River in Westland.

The bush, and steepness of the Taipo River’s descent into Westland is well-known as real “tiger country” and the party had its trouble finding, and following, tracks.

By New Years Eve the party was well down river but was driven out of camp by a violent storm overnight. Everyone was forced to press on down the Taipo to the deserted Dillon homestead, to dry out and rest.

Two days later the weather improved slightly. The party was able to continue down the Taipo to the main West Coast Road, and then northwards to Jacksons where they caught the railcar, through Otira tunnel, and back to Arthurs Pass. Quite an experience for all, and ruinous for the boots of some.

The bad weather continued with more heavy rain, but after a day or so of confinement, exercise was essential and the group continued, with some visitors from the Colorado Mountain Club in a tramp and climb to Temple Basin and an attempt on Temple Col. It was snowing with a whiteout on the Col, so the group was forced back to the comfort of the CMC Kennedy Hut in Arthurs Pass.

By 5 January 1968 the trip was over. Despite continuous bad weather the party had covered considerable ground in rugged conditions and all had learnt a little more of the vagaries of nature and the challenge of Westland rivers at bush.

First published in “Alpine Sports – 55 years of an Auckland Mountain Club” 1984 p136

Trip members in the photograph. Back row Neil Calvert, Peter Treadwell, Dennis Lowden, Brian Barge, Walter Lennie, Tony Watkins and Brian Scott. Front row Judy Killeen, Cynthia Lennie, Val Case and Donelle Medland. Photo by Donelle Hasler.