Katie, Emily, and I drove up to Arthurs Pass and down the Otira gorge to Aickens where we had planned to tramp into the Otehake hot pools for the night. We set off soon after midday. The weather was a bit average but ok. Our first problem arose 20 minutes in when we couldn’t find a place to cross the river. We hunted up and down the riverbank for some time making little attempts at crossing before finally giving up and walking all the way up to the Deception bridge and crossing it there.
We walked down the otherside of the Otira river and turned right following the track to Lake Kaurapataka arriving there around 8 pm. As we were still eager to relax in some delicious hot-pooly water we decided to carry on. The last section to the pools is very rough. The track runs along the steep sides of a valley on the true left of the Otehake river. As we were running a little late it started to get dark. Never fear we had anticipated this and already had our headtorches strapped to our heads. From time-to-time we lost the next marker and spent a while bashing around looking for it. Eventually we descended to the Otehake river in darkness.
Above left: Katie and Emily crossing an arm of the Otira river. A rather weak arm. Above right: We are a charming lot.
I investigated the river and decided it seemed ok to cross. It was fairly happy in the bit that I had tried. We linked arms and started crossing but were forced back when it got too swift. We tried further up-stream. About 2/3 of the way across we came to a halt as my feet were washed out from under me by the swift water. Things were looking a little dire as we precariously balanced in the river with the water up near our hips. Apparently Emily and Katie also had rather poor foot holds and so we edged very slowly backwards to the bank where we stood there pumping adrenaline for some time. Ughh…
Above left: The last two hours from Lake Kaurapataka to the hot pools is fairly rough going. It was made more difficult by the darkness. Here you can see the two hard-outs Katie and Emily bashing there way through the bush. Above right: Everything looked much happier in the morning. Here’s our tent pitched on the island.
Instead of trying to cross again we headed up on the right-hand side of the river and pitched our tent in the middle of the ‘island’, an area in the middle of the river. At this point the water was only flowing to the true right of the island but I was unsure if it was going to rise over night and flood the true left leaving us trapped in the middle. We gave up on trying to find the hot pools and went to bed.
In the morning we looked across to see the site of the pools completely under water. Boo hiss only cold pools for us. We packed up and started the long slog back to the car. As we were walking along the steep rough section towards the lake Katie decided to entertain us with her somersaulting prowess. This may have been to alert us that we had briefly left the track and were going the wrong way. Luckily as she somersaulted she also demonstrated how one self-arrests on a steep slope using features of the terrain, i.e. tree roots.
As the river was still too high to cross we walked back to the Deception bridge and I ran down to pick up the car. On the way I was picked up by a couple who had collected Katie and Emily. We drove back to Arthurs Pass, abandoned plans to cycle home the next day, and drove back to Christchurch.
Above: Scrambling back along the rather rough track (with mystery missing frames at the end due to some nasty issue in my encoding software).
Otehake cold pools – walk in and out (Nov 2011)[maptype=G_HYBRID_TYPE]
Above: A map showing our route into the pools (blue) and back out again (green). The little spikey bits are my GPS loosing it.