A trip to an old favourite: Packhorse Hut
A planned trip to Arthur's Pass was postponed because of rain in the mountains. As an alternative I decided to do a day trip up to the historic Packhorse Hut on Banks Peninsula.
The track to the hut starts mid way up the Kaituna Valley, 4 kms in length with a 700 metre altitude gain. The advised time for the track is 4 hours return, I finished in about 3 hours total, and I am sure that fitter people could do it in a much shorter time frame.
|Packhorse Hut walk- not 4 hours, 2 up, 1 down|
|Kaituna Valley to Packhorse Hut, Banks Peninsula|
The track crosses farmland for the first 1 km, and then starts to climb up a steep bulldozer track over the middle reaches. The final part of the track is over grassy (and steep) fields.
|Kaituna Valley carpark|
Here is the sizeable car-park close to the Kaituna farm buildings, I think cars would be quite secure here overnight.
|Crossing farm land on the way to Packhorse Hut|
Most of the track is on a farm track winding over the fields and up a spur rising to the hut location.
|'A mighty torrent', unnamed stream on the Kaituna-Packhorse hut track|
This is one of the small creeks you cross on the way up hill, there are 3 crossings in total. The flow is very low at this time of the year, but I have seen a picture of trampers fording this stream and the water is halfway up their thighs.
|Track on way up|
The track about half way up the hill looking back towards Kaituna valley, you cannot see how steep this path is but the angle would be at least 45 degrees at this point, so STEEP!
|Bush remnant climbing flank of Mt Bradley|
Many of the side gullies have remnants of the native bush, this one was mostly under story but with some truly magnificent trees at least 40 meter high as well. I could hear what sounded like hundreds of native birds singing, these hill side pockets are a refuge for Tui, Bellbirds and Keruru (native wood pigeons).
|Massive native tree near Kaituna Saddle|
The tree above was probably a hundred plus feet tall, with two fat pigeons sitting on the top branches.
|First glimpse of Packhorse Hut|
First glimpse of the hut as you reach the summit, the track continues on to Mt Herbert,at 926 asl it is the highest peak on Banks Peninsular.
|View of the upper reaches of Lyttelton Harbour|
From the top you have expansive views to Lyttelton harbour, Gebbies Pass, both coasts and the Southern Alps (when they are not clouded in).
|Towards Gebbies Pass from Kaituna Pass|
|Lyttelton harbour from near Packhorse Hut|
|The Port Hills and Sugar Loaf in distance|
Packhorse hut was built in 1916 as one of a string of huts along the crater of Lytelton harbour. Eventually they were meant to be linked by a road but this was never fully completed. It is one of only a dozen rock built huts managed by DOC, two others are the Mt Aspiring Hut and one on the Tongariro Crossing, so it is in good company.
|The Packhorse Hut, attractive stone exterior|
|Entrance to Packhorse Hut|
|Cosy interior of the Packhorse Hut|
|Packhorse Hut, the Dining area|
Jon brewing a hot drink, as you do, I would love to do an overnight trip here, it is very popular because it is so close to Christchurch. On the previous Saturday there were 12 people in this 9 person hut.
|One of the bunk rooms in the Packhorse Hut|
|Excellent view from table, Packhorse Hut|
Look at that view, it would be magical sitting here with a meal in front of you, a brew and a roaring fire warming the interior, how could you resist.
|View down to Kaituna valley|
After an hour I headed back down to the car park following the same route, there are 2 other ways to visit the hut; from Gebbies Pass and also over Mt Herbert, both take about 3-5 hours
|60% slope on way down Kaituna-Packhorse Hut track|
Above is a very steep part of the bulldozer track with at least a 60 degree slope, thankfully it is only this steep for about 300 meters or it would be a total gut buster.
A very pleasant spot to visit in its own right, a great spot if it is raining in the Southern Alps.
Track Times: 3-4 hours return from the carpark, 2 hours up- 1.5 hours down
Hut Details: Packhorse Hut; serviced (booking required), now (2017) 12 bunks, wood burner, water tank, wood shed
Miscellaneous: 2017: Packhorse is now on the DOC hut booking system and MUST BE booked before an overnight stay. It has been reconfigured as a 12 bunk hut. It is part of Te Ara Pataka (the Spine of the Lizard) track from Hilltop to Gebbies Pass.