Visit the newly rebuilt Casey Hut on a terrace above Poulter River for an overnight tramp near Arthur’s Pass.
The track begins at the Andrews Shelter on Mount White Road. Park opposite the shelter where there is plenty of space, and walk north along the road for two minutes to a sign indicating the Andrews Valley Track.
In the first hour, the track climbs around 400m through beech forest, at first steeply through some less-than-picturesque sections but these soon give way to a wide benched track with a gentle gradient. The track dips in and out of several side streams.
After 2–3hr easy walking, the track rejoins Andrews Stream and the valley opens out to Hallelujah Flat. The terrain allows for swift travel and you soon reach the inauspicious Casey Saddle (777m), which is so gradual, wide and easy it is almost unnoticeable. Boardwalk protects the area over the saddle, where the upper reaches of Andrews Stream almost join with Surprise Stream on the Casey side. With good water sources, this makes an ideal lunch spot.
From Casey Saddle the track descends to Surprise Stream, then climbs for just over 100m. There’s some flatter sections just under the 900m contour, easy enough albeit with a bit of windfall to navigate.
The track goes briefly through a section of open alpine scrub that allows views of the nearby mountains, such as Castle Hill (1545m) to the north and the Savannah Range. It then drops 300m to the old hut site near Casey Stream and the junction with the track north to Poulter Hut. Here there are building remnants and a track sign – look carefully and you will see ‘Casey Hut, 15 min’ in small writing. An old track through the bush heading south from the hut site is now largely disused. A new track runs alongside Casey Stream towards Poulter River before curving around and south.
Casey Hut sits on a terrace above Poulter River and is easy to spot from the south, but obscured when approaching from the north. A modest orange triangle in the trees and a ground trail heading straight towards the terrace are the only signs indicating its whereabouts. At the time of writing, the hut book had many complaints about the lack of signage, which people feel makes the hut tricky to find. Indeed, in bad weather, it could be possible to walk right past the hut, especially as there is a DOC staff hut visible further down the valley.
Casey Hut is built in plywood one-room contemporary DOC style and sports new mattresses that are much more comfortable than those green prison-issue ones. Sandflies are energetic and mice outside are ready to snatch snacks, but the hut is mouse-proof.
Return the same way, or take a longer day and return to Andrews Shelter via the Poulter River and Binser Saddle. This will require a short section of road walking to reach your vehicle.
- 15km to hut
- Total Ascent
- Easy / Moderate
- Casey Hut ($15/night, 12 bunks)
- From Andrews Shelter on Mount White Road