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March 2013 Issue
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Variation on an old favourite

Descending scree towards the distant Jordan Saddle. Photo: David Short
Bealey Spur Hut, 6 bunks
Off SH73, park at the base of Bealey Spur in the marked car park. About 1hr 40min from Christchurch
Waimakariri River via Bealey Spur and Jordan Saddle, Arthur’s Pass National Park

Bealey Spur is a popular tramp. Nestled in the shadow of far larger mountains to the north and west it provides classic vantage points from which to view the vast Waimakariri Basin and to wonder at the fractured Crow Glacier that leads to the summit of Mt Rolleston.

Sir Arthur Dudley Dobson named Bealey Spur in 1864 when he travelled through on his first reconnaissance trip. Samuel Bealey was superintendent of the province at the time.

Regardless of heritage, it remains a fantastic destination because it is relatively weatherproof, provides great views and has a hut at the end. Seeking a break from Christchurch and noticing the weather window was only 24 hours wide, our group of seven set off with the intention of going further. The track starts at the tiny Bealey Spur Village at a steady gradient, fresh legs set a fresh pace and it was not long before we started to pass in and out of small tussock clearings. Early morning mist added to the atmosphere by shrouding our distant objective.

We reached the old musterers hut in good time. Built in 1935 from Beech saplings it is a fantastic example of our high-country farming heritage. Cora Lynn station used the hut right up until 1978 when the land was retired from grazing and absorbed into Arthur’s Pass National Park. We filled out the intentions book and enjoyed our surroundings before continuing on.

At some point Bealey Spur becomes Hut Spur. Our group pushes on with little regard for the cartographers of the past. We climb through the rapidly rising mist, past Pt1545m before swinging a broad left southwest towards Pt1875m, our destination. The ridge is largely easy travel with a couple of sticky sections. Three members of our group turn around as the rock scrambling takes on new heights. The rest of us push on, clambering over boulders while taking in the views.

Point 1875m is reached in about three hours from Bealey Spur Hut. We stop for a sandwich and some yoghurt-covered raisins while discussing the descent. I assure the others that Jordan Stream will work and threats are made about the punishment I will receive if I turn out to be wrong. Chris, my mountain goat friend leads off, scampering down the fine scree. We gain the bushy tussock-filled basin easily and edge towards the start of Jordan Stream. A short bum-slide finds us in the steep upper reaches. Cool sips of mountain water are enjoyed in between leaping from boulder to boulder.

The next two hours are spent in bliss crossing and recrossing Jordan Stream as we make our way towards Turkey Flat. Eventually the stream bed levels out to a broad valley and travel down the true right hoping to intersect the track down the Waimakariri Valley. Sure enough, it appears as a faint trail and we follow it in fading sunlight to Bealey Bridge.

We make our way to Bealey Hotel where hot chips and a cold beer are the order of the day. Apparently Jordan Stream was named because it was ‘one more river to cross’ on your way to the hotel.

– David Short