Harris Saddle-Deadmans-Hollyford-Cascade

Just got back from 9 days. Routeburn Shelter to Harris Saddle, down Deadmans, down the Hollyford to Martins Bay then Big Bay Gorge River Barn Bay Cascade Martyr Saddle and then finally a ride from the Arawhata bridge out to Haast. Contrary to rumours and the DOC website, Deadmans Track wasn't too bad - steep and slippery, but recently (fresh sawdust) recut with chainsaw and scrub bar, lots of orange markers and stoat traps all the way down. It took me three hours from leaving the sign at the top to reaching the Hollyford road and lots of 'facility closed' tape at the bottom. Bucketing rain and a carrying a pack with 12 days food and a packraft. The DOC visitor herders and the mammal murderers mustn't talk to one another or perhaps they want to keep it a secret while they direct people in safer and more revenue generating directions?
depends how often they cut the track. they may have cut it for the trapping since its ramped up. even the ranger at mackenzie has raised tens of thousands from donations from the trampers towards trapping, he's the reason theres any trapping was going on at that end of the hollyford certainly up until recently..
Nice trip for this time of year and the weather, though the first night was a bit rough - putting up the tent in a thunderstorm at the end of the Hollyford road end at about 7:30 pm in the dark and rain, packing up again in the dark at 6 am, still flashing and banging and pouring rain... Nice huts after that. I was glad I took the packraft, I needed it to get across McKenzie Creek (south end of Big Bay), it saved me asking Robert to row me across Gorge River in the dark at 6:30 in the morning, and I wouldn't have got across the Cascade River without it on the last day. One useful piece of information - there is a DOC hut at [the mouth of the Spoon River](https://www.topomap.co.nz/NZTopoMap?v=2&ll=-44.14637,168.256688&z=15&pin=1) that isn't shown on the map or particularly signposted from the coast. There is a waratah with an orange top on the north side of the river, the hut is on the flat behind that, but not visible from the coast. [From Facebook](https://www.facebook.com/OtagoPestServices/posts/old-spoon-hut-which-is-due-to-be-removed-from-current-location-and-relocated-to-/607974576318790/), it looks like it's the hut marked on the map 5 or 6 km up Spoon river that has been moved down to the coast.
you must have had a reasonable weight of gear there to do that trip.
Not really. I think I started with pretty close to 15 kg. 8 kg of food for 12 days. I was planning (and did do) the trip in 9 days, but short and long range weather was looking pretty messy, I had a lot of unbridged rivers to get past so took 3 days extra. My pack is sub 1 kg (Macpac Amp 40). (No not ideal, 15 kg is well over it's weight range) Tent is 750 g, sleeping bag 700 g. 200 g piece of foam to sleep on, about 2.3 kg of clothes all up. Total base weight including packraft and paddle about 7 kg My packraft set up at the moment is pretty minimalist, a Klymit LWD about 1.3 kg. Quite cheap if you [get one directly through Amazon](https://www.amazon.com/KLYMIT-LITEWATER-Packraft-Inflatable-Backpacking/dp/B089392X13). I only took a couple of plastic paddle blades that came with some Warehouse toy blowup, tied them on the ends of my walking poles and then tied the poles together. So total pack rafting setup was about 1.5 kg. It worked well for what I did, I paddled the hour from the head of Lake McKerrow down to Demon Trail Hut, and it got me comfortably across McKenzie Creek, Gorge River and the Cascade River when they were all above what I could have crossed on foot. I didn't paddle down the Hollyford or down the full length of Lake McKerrow, too cold and rainy and windy, river flowing fast and just coloured up, I wasn't confident in my ability to get to where I needed if I came around a corner and there was fast current and a big tree snag in the way. Definitely a better pack rafting set up would be necessary for say paddling down the Landsborough, Waiatoto or Arawhata rivers, but I was impressed how much difference it made being able to easily cross such rivers with what I had, in spite of a week of rain.
15kg base weight plus the food? thats pretty good with a packraft
Thats a cool packraft
Thanks for that post I'm doing similar route in december(without the pack raft) And was curious about the condition of deadmans track. Was hoping to do routeburn shelter to end of deadmans in 1st day.
It’s doable. I was on the bus to Routeburn Shelter that arrived there about 0940. Got to the original Hollyford road end at about 1930 I think. Be aware there’s nowhere decent to camp when you get to the bottom of Deadman’s as far as I could see, you’ve still got a couple of hours down the road. First camping that was ok was on a small patch of grass just beside the bridge. No shelter or grassy flat any more at [that point]( https://www.topomap.co.nz/NZTopoMap?v=2&ll=-44.694086,168.125088&z=15). If you were keen enough for a 12 or 13 hour day, you could always do another 2 or 3 hours down to Hidden Falls hut. For reference, my times were 0940 from the Routeburn Carpark, 1415 at the top of Deadmans Track, 1715 at the bottom, 1930 at the original Hollyford roadend.

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Forum Tracks, routes, and huts
Started by Ian_H
On 24 April 2021
Replies 8
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