Went in via Coal Creek entrance, taking 2 hr 40 minutes. Quite a pleasant walk alongside Coal Creek following Te Araroa marker poles. Camp Stream hut is cozy with a nice wee wood oven. If the weather is favorable, take the ridge option to Stag Saddle for great views of Lake Tekapo, Sibbald and the tip of D’Archiac beyond. Once over the saddle there is plenty of water to drink from. Having lunch on the way we were buzzed by a falcon which then disappeared, spiralling up thermals to the other side of the broad valley. We saw 3 tahr while dropping down from the saddle to the main side stream that comes out opposite Royal Hut.
Royal Hut is tidy and spacious but has no firewood. I burnt the combustible rubbish abandoned on the fireplace. No sign of graffiti from Chas. and Anne’s stay. We returned to Camp Stream Hut via a low broad saddle (1830 m) visible from the hut to the SSW. This took about the same length of time as the Stag Saddle crossing and was very pleasant travel firstly up what was marked as scree. It turned out to be soil-based so easy to walk up.
After lunch we sidled to the spur to the east of this saddle and dropped down to where the water percolates under a massive debris flow caused by an earthquake in times past. It resembles Taruahuna Pass but instead of talus, it was much lower and composed of fine scree. We traveled down the stream via terraces on the true right, marked by animal trails and the odd cairn. I presume ski-tourers go this way. It is also possible to travel via the stream itself.
Where the stream turns to the west, we remained on the tussocked terraces and traversed them all the way back to Camp Stream Hut. We needed to drop down and climb up 20 – 30 m to traverse two incised side streams cutting through the terraces. There was a bit of an animal trail initially along the edge of these terraces and the tussocks were growing sparsely enough to travel through them easily and quickly. Frank startled a lone tahr. We obviously weren’t the first to travel along these terraces as I found a shoe on the broad terrace just east of Camp Stream Hut.
We were able to keep our feet dry on the trip but needed to remove boots for the first crossing going into Camp Stream Hut and also just before Royal Hut though Frank kindly gave me a piggy back there. Hope he doesn’t expect me to return the favour sometime.