Hawdon-Edwards ClassicIntermediate - Experienced
Submitted by Mike Steel
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Back country - remote
Point to Point (one way)
Undulating, some big hills
Native bushRiversideOpen tussock/grasslandsOpen ridges/tops
Intermediate - Experienced
A popular 2-3 day tramping route that crosses the main divide (twice) albeit briefly, and is a rewarding run in fine weather, with plenty to see along the way: rivers, low alpine passes, tarns, mountains, bush and two huts. There's a 22km bike ride back to the car.
Have run this several times (in both directions), and it's debatable which way around is best. But the bike ride is best from the Edwards end, especially if it's north-westerly, so it's described that way here.
Drop a bike at/near Greyney's shelter, and drive to the Hawdon valley car park. A trail leads north from the car park through a short section of bush and down to cross the Hawdon. Follow the marked trail (which crosses the river twice more higher up) leading with little fuss to the new Hawdon hut. The trail then climbs steeply up through bush then scrub to a scenic viewpoint well above the Twin Fall Stream, and then drops down to it in a scrubby hanging valley and leads up to the tarn at Walker Pass (this section is fairly slow going, keep a eye out for markers). Once you leave Walker Pass you're on the West Coast following the upper Otehake River, but only for a short distance (1km at most) where you turn left up the long gently sloping side valley that leads up to Tarn Col. The views from the tarn near Tarn Col are superb, especially of Mt Franklin. To descend Tarn Col there's a steep scree descent just to the south of the Col; in the reverse direction climb steep scrub by the waterfall. This brings you down to Taruahuna Pass, a large expanse of broken rock that fell off nearby Falling Mountain, and which requires some care till you pick up the faint and runnable cairned trail. From here, begin the long and pleasant trip down the scenic Edwards Valley to the Edwards Hut. The track then continues on the left of the river before making a grunty traverse in the bush above the river. Once you've dropped back down and passed the Edwards River east branch it's all plain sailing and cruisy running out to the road.
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Features of interest
tarns, mountains, different vegetation across the divide
Make Up of Run
Untracked / Route only: 10%
Technical Single Track: 70%
Moderate Single Track: 20%
To get to the Hawdon Valley carpark, turn off SH73 near Cass on the Mt White Road (gravel) which crosses the railway line and Waimakariri River and then forks - take the branch which is signposted to the Hawdon Valley.
Safe parking, and camping, well off the main highway.
Take a map and compass. Be particularly careful to not miss the turn left up the side valley to Tarn Col (occasional trampers have done so and ended up in the Otehake wilderness area!).
Long-sleeved thermal top, Windproof jacket, Beanie/thermal headwear, Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival blanket, Cellphone, Compass, Map.
Plenty of water in side streams the whole way.
Feasible in summer-autumn, and only when the rivers are not high. In winter/spring the passes can be snowed under and this can hang around into late spring. There are unavoidable numerous river crossings (in the unlikely event the final Mingha/Bealey river is uncrossable there is a rail bridge a short distance south).
Apart from the navigation issue above, take care on the steep descent from Tarn Col to Tarahuna Pass and in crossing the broken rock of the pass (i.e. probably best not to run this bit until you reach the faint trails, to avoid any risk of twisting your ankle in this remote spot).
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See other runs nearby:
Bealey - Avalanche Traverse
Rome Ridge/Rough Creek Alpine Circuit
Avalanche Peak - Crow River
Waimak Col (Otira to Klondyke)
The Bloody Limit
Oates for Breakfast
Encompassing Arthur's Pass
Barker's for Brunch
KKK (Klondyke - Kelly - Klondyke)
Poulter River Ranger
Dash, Bash, Splash and Dash Harman Pass
Arthur's Pass Taster