These two adjacent ranges roughly form a large arrowhead of terrain around which the Otira and Taipo rivers flow into the Taramakau Valley. They are predominantly made up of moderate, low angled ridges reaching a maximum altitude of 1459m at Rangi Taipo on the Bald Range. Access onto the tops is easy on the south-eastern flanks where the regularly used Carroll Hut Track climbs from SH73. In the west, two additional tracks climb from the Taipo Valley – Seven Mile Creek and Rangi Taipo.
The ridges are readily traversed and the views of the greater region are superb.
While the Kelly Range is within Arthur’s Pass National Park, the Bald Range is on stewardship land.
1. Carroll Hut
A large new 10-bunk hut sited on an attractive tussock plateau just below Kelly Saddle. It has fine views of the northern side of Arthur’s Pass and its attendant high summits including Mts Rolleston and Philistine. Numerous alpine tarns can be located just above the hut and are a good place to find alpine plants and flowers.
2. Kellys Hill
The most popular climb on the ranges, Kellys Hill, 1394m, is easily reached via a poled track from Carroll Hut and through Kelly Saddle. The summit reveals one of the very best views in the region of the western side of the Main Divide all the way to the Tasman Sea.
3. Rangi Taipo
Rangi Taipo lies some 6km along the Bald Range from Kelly Saddle over an undulating and often rugged ridgeline. The route is unmarked and moderately challenging. A steep, rough track descends south of the summit down a bush face to the Taipo River.
4. Kelly Range Traverse
The Kelly Range can be traversed south-west over several intermediate summits, all around 1300-1400m, to reach upper Kellys Creek below Hunt Saddle. While the ridge crest is easy to follow, the route off is moderately difficult and will require good navigation and some scrub bashing.
5. Bald Range Traverse
A full traverse of the Bald Range will require determination and excellent navigational skills as the ridge beyond Rangi Taipo is heavily bushed, with a descent west off Pt786m directly down the bush face to SH73.
6. Seven Mile Creek
This large feeder of the Taipo River has a marked track climbing from the bush terrace at its mouth to the open tops of the Kelly Range which can then be followed back to Kelly Saddle and Carroll Hut.
7. Kellys Creek
A track exists up Kellys Creek to Hunt Saddle, 807m, however recent flood damage has made some sections impassable. It is hoped this will be cleared to allow access to the nicely sited Hunts Creek Hut.
8. Hunts Creek Hut
This four-bunk ex-Forest Service hut is located in a tussock clearing in Hunts Creek and has a wild remote ambience. It is also the starting point for more challenging traverses to the south up Hunts Creek to Bijleveld Col, Dry Stream and beyond.
9. Taipo River
A very large catchment draining into the Taramakau Valley, the Taipo has a well-marked and regularly used tramping track and good huts.
10. Dillon Huts
A large 10-bunk hut, Dillon Hut, and the nearby Dillons Homestead Hut, provide accommodation for tramping parties heading into the Taipo or over onto the Kelly Range.