A look at the ford over the Otira River....My six day trip over Harper's Pass is coming up in two weeks time , so I went to the West Coast over the weekend to scout the crossing points on the Otira River.
(NB: It didn't happen due to a massive sodding rain event...)
|The Otira River at Aickens Corner, Arthurs Pass National Park|
Travel up the Taramakau means river crossings....To get over Harper's Pass you must be able to cross the Otira, Otehake and Taramakau Rivers on the first and second days of the tramp. There are no bridges crossing any of these rivers, so you need to utilise those river crossing skills to get through. The Otira is generally the worst of the three, if you can cross this river at Aickens Corner you should be able to cross the other two as well.
|Otira Ford point at Aickens Corner|
For more information on river crossing technique you should read the relevant sections of the MSC books: Bushcraft : outdoor skills for the New Zealand bush and River Safety: Be river safe.
Every serious tramper should have a copy of both of these books at home.
|The Bushcraft bible: Bushcraft in New Zealand|
|MSC River Safety Manual: must know river crossing techniques|
The Otira, Otehake and Taramakau Rivers are all killers: numerous people have been swept away trying to cross them in unfavourable conditions. They are always cold and can be deep and swift with even a hint of rain in the surrounding mountains.
This is the West Coast remember: it is always raining in the surrounding mountains.
|Track to the Taramakau Valley from near the Aickens car-park|
It is about 20-30 meters wide so it is a long way to back-track if things started to look dicey during your crossing. I would still think about fording here but I would think long and hard before wading in.
|Otira River: First possible ford near Aickens Corner|
DO NOT CROSS HERE!
|Otira river view towards the flood track near Aickens Corner|
|View upstream: Otira River ford near Aickens Corner|
|The multi braided section of Otira River near Aickens I walked across|
|Multi braided section of Otira River, Aickens Corner|
|Multi braided section of Otira River looking towards the Taramakau|
Something to think about....
|Multi braided section of Otira River at Aickens, looking downstream...|
|Different day...the Otira River after 1-2 hours light rain in the headwaters...|
Anyway that's what this beast looks like, whether it is the same in two weeks remains to be seen.
P.S: I gave a couple of TA walkers a ride from Arthur's Pass to Lagoon Saddle Track. One of them got swept away by the Otehake a couple of days earlier but managed to make it to shore. He freely admitted he just waded into the river and didn't take the time to study it well. Always study a river before entering.
|Crossing the Morrison Footbridge just west of Otira|
Access: Aickens Corner is approximately 5 km's west of Otira township, there is a parking area on the right hand side of the road.
Track Times: The ford over the Otira River is located 10 minutes along the track to the Taramakau Valley, please follow the marked track as it crosses farmland.
Miscellaneous:The Otira can also be crossed via the Morrison Bridge, this is approximately 1 km west of Otira. Then use the Otira Flood Track to access the Taramakau- note that the flood track is overgrown and in poor condition, it takes 1.5-2 hours.