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Kelly Range and Taipo River, Arthur’s Pass National Park

Kelly Range Camping. Photo: Sanjeev Deo
Arthur's Pass National Park
Dillons Homestead Hut (Basic, 10 bunks); Dillon Hut (standard, 10 bunks)
Park about 3km north of Otira Township, at Kellys Creek bridge. Finish at SH73, Taipo Valley Track Exit
BV20, BU20
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Kelly Range and Taipo River (gpx, yo 58 KB)
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Enjoy weaving through dry, summer forests of kamahi and rata before the forest soon gives way to subalpine scrub, through which the nicely benched track passes and which in turn leads to the tussock basin below the hut.

A short climb above the hut leads to Kelly Saddle with its cluster of small tarns that make for perfect camping spots. The route across these gently undulating grasslands is nowadays marked with the occasional pole and you’re rewarded with extensive views over to the snowy peaks of Arthur’s Pass. Closer at hand you can glimpse into the deep, shady Seven Mile Creek leading to the Taipo and finally the glistening braids of the Taramakau.

Continue down the recently re-cut trail alongside Seven Mile Creek and into the lower Taipo Valley. It,s a long descent of about 1000m to the valley floor.

The usual knee-crunching, switchback track through a forest of twisted rata brings you out, after about two-hours, to the only river crossing on the entire trip. Seven Mile Creek is easy to boulder-hop before reaching the broad river flats of the Taipo Valley.

There now only remains the problem of getting back to your car, some 26km along SH73.