A Journey to the VERY TOP of the Rakaia River

A Journey to the VERY TOP of the Rakaia River

My cousin Mark and I have always gone on adventures, ever since we were little kids. We’d climb trees, build bike tracks and explore whatever we could whenever we got together. 

30 years later, we still go on adventures together whenever we can. Luckily for me (but less fortunate for him!), Mark has an injured hip and is unable to work at the moment, which means we can go on adventures. 

This time around, Mark suggested we explore the very top of the Rakaia River, from Manuka Point at Double Hill Station, up to where the river officially starts.

With the Jimny on the trailer, we left Christchurch early on Friday morning, picked up some supplies at Rolleston and headed for the hills. It was a nice day and the forecast was all positive. 

We called the station who told us we were unlikely to reach Evans Hut, but that we’d be able to drive close to it and could do a short walk to the hut.

The challenge was set. 

We reached Double Hill Station at around 11am, unloaded the Jimny and headed into the hills. We had a goal in mind, to drive right to Evans Hut. 

Upper Rakaia River

We were on track, the track was nice and all was going well, until we reached a stream that had recently flooded. It wasn’t just a small flood, there was about 400m of track missing, and it had been replaced by huge boulders. 

Upper Rakaia River

That’s okay, we can still get there, because we have a very capable Jimny, some recovery gear, and 2 and a half days before we need to get home. 

We made a track, we pushed our way through, and we made it to Evans Hut. 

In typical Mark and Adam form, we took many luxuries with us. Our nice tents, a great BBQ and chairs, so we didn’t use the hut, instead opting to camp next to it. 

The following morning was spectacular. It was a cold morning and we were both up early to crank up the fire and put coffee on. As we sat at the fire with coffee at about 5.30am, the darkness just starting to turn to light, a comet slowly crossed the sky like nothing we’d seen before. Fantastic!

Initially we’d only planned to get to Evans Hut, but we still had two days of exploring. There are more huts on the other side of the river, so we sent the drone up to see if there was a track over there. There was no track to cross the river, and the riverbed looked very rocky, but there was a good track linking the huts. 

So we set off. It took us about 4 hours to cross the rocky riverbed, a distance of only about 1200m. It was slow going. When we reached the other side, we discovered that the track actually wasn’t that good, it looked better than it was from the drone. 

We kept heading upstream to see how far we could get and we came across a very good hut Reischek Hut. It is a small hut and there was obviously a hunting group staying there so we carried on. 

Upper Rakaia River

Just beyond that hut we found that the track ends but there is a spectacular camping site at the end of the track. This was perfect for our second night. 

On day 3 we crawled our way out, and we were pleased to get back onto the smooth pavement of a gravel road!

Upper Rakaia River