Home / Trips / Canterbury

Harman Pass, Arthur’s Pass National Park

Above the sandfly line

Harman Pass is the first pass on the classic Three Passes route. It can be reached in a long day from the Klondyke Corner road end and makes a splendid campsite for those who want a taste of the route, but don’t have the time or experience to complete the full four-five day journey.

Our trip began with a rubble-bash up the Waimakariri River to Carrington Hut, where we enjoyed a break. Continuing again in the afternoon, it didn’t take long before we were sloshing across the White River to gain access to the narrow, boulder-filled Taipoiti River and the route to Harman Pass.

It felt a little sinister in the depths of the gorge, with the river roaring and light rain spits gradually intensifying. The weather seemed to be deteriorating ahead of the forecast as we climbed out of the steepest section of the gorge onto wider, more open tussock and scree tops.

At Harman Pass (1321m), clouds swirled but momentary glimpses of Whitehorn Pass (1753m) were clear enough. Ariels Tarns made for a classic alpine camping spot, with not a sandfly in sight.

Overnight rain had us worried about the descent back to the Waimakariri – would the Taipoiti be in flood? I was pleasantly surprised to find the descent was easier than the ascent. A careful hour or so of slippery scrambling saw us back down on the true left of the White River and then a sustained push back down the Waimak to Klondyke Corner.

Support Wilderness

Since 1991, Wilderness has had one simple goal: to help Kiwis ‘See more, do more, live more’ of New Zealand.

If you value our mission, please consider subscribing. As a loyal supporter, you’ll receive these benefits:

  • New Zealand’s best outdoor journalism We’ve won multiple awards for our journalism and magazine production.
  • NZ’s best trips. Browse more than 610 trips with downloadable maps and route notes.
  • Trustworthy gear reviews. Each month we review gear we’ve been bashing and thrashing for months so you can determine if its worth your money.
  • Member benefits. Our WildCard provides discounts at more than 20 partners throughout New Zealand.
  • Your support goes a long way. Your subscription will help us fund NZ’s best outdoor journalists and writers and ensure Wilderness will be there to inspire the next generation of outdoor Kiwis.

A subscription costs as little as $7.00/month for instant access to all articles, trips, gear reviews and gear guides.

View all our subscription options and join the club.

Already a subscriber? Login Now.

Total Ascent
Moderate / Difficult
Klondyke Corner to Carrington Hut, 4-5hr; To Waimakariri Falls Hut 2-3hr
Carrington Hut ($15, 36 bunks)
From SH73, Klondyke Corner car park

GPX File

Harman Pass (gpx, 8 KB)

GPX File

Your device does not support GPX files. Please try a different device.