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Saturday 8 February 2003


Harman Pass Hike (Day 2)



Roni and Me with a beautiful waterfall on the climb to Harman pass

I was woken at 7:45 after intending to be up at 7:00. We set off toward Harman pass. There was a cable car across the White river but we didn’t need it – we forded it. I then put on my boots thinking that would be the last of the crossings, but almost straight away got them filled completely with water crossing the Taipoiti River.

The climb to Harman pass wasn’t too bad, although it was mostly on river rocks or scree slopes. The view from the pass was obscured by the cloud coming over it from the west. We were level with one patch of snow. Just before the pass, there were several beautiful waterfalls. We could see the head of one part of the river where water was pouring out of the bottom of a scree slope which had snow at the top.

Coming down the pass was difficult. At first it was very steep, and loose rocks made every step tricky. As we descended, we followed the Mary creek, there were occasional red triangle markers, and a lot of cairns. The cairns were totally unhelpful – we would cross the creek to get to a cairn, only to see another on the opposite bank. High up near the pass we saw 8 Kea, one of which flew quite close. It was larger than I expected – about the size of a Cockatoo or maybe a bit bigger. Their call was very distinctive, but more like ‘yahh’ than ‘kea’. It started misting rain on the way down and didn’t stop for the rest of the day. Walking down the creek was very hard, since the rocks were all loose or slippery, and there was no path.

Eventually we came to the forest where a path started, but it got no easier. Now the ground had very slippery rocks and roots – the only parts with purchase were the bits of dirt. It definitely felt like the west coast – raining, incredibly green and mossy forest, and tonnes of water flowing down the river. I was trying to be gentle on my knee. Maybe being gentle worked, or maybe it just didn’t get sore, either way I was happy. I had been very afraid of the descent causing a problem.

Just before Julia hut, there was a swing bridge – my first – basically a wire bridge with a mesh and bar base, one foot width wide, and two ‘handrails’ of wire which included guard wires. Julia hut was very small compared to Carrington – only 6 beds – there was a smaller old hut there which was a bit of a dump. The new 6 bed hut was still only one room – a bigger one would have been useful.

The main attraction at Julia hut however, was the hot springs! About 400m downriver was a sulphurous smelling pool which was not really connected to the Taipo ( but within a metre of it). It had already been somewhat excavated by people who had already got to the hut. The water was soooo nice! It just came out of the gravel at the bottom of the pool very hot, but slowly, so it mixed to give a very nice temperature. Unfortunately it got our clothes which were partly wet from the rain, completely wet.