Sensational Hiking in Arthur's Pass in Selwyn District

The Selwyn District offers a vast selection of hiking tracks for all abilities. A great 2-3 day hike is the Casey Saddle to Binser Saddle in Arthur’s Pass.

Casey Saddle to Binser Saddle Route, Arthurs Pass
Category: Tramping Track
Time: 2-3 Days.

The Selwyn District offers a great selection of hiking and walking tracks for all abilities with a range of short and overnight options. Some of the most popular walks are in close proximity to Arthur’s Pass and surrounded by the Southern Alps.

Selwyn’s majestic alpine setting is only a short drive from Christchurch on State Highway 73 and offers plenty of opportunity to explore. With the promise of good weather we planned our latest hiking adventure. Our chosen trail, a well-known and popular 2-3 day hike, was Casey Saddle to Binser Saddle in Arthur’s Pass. It’s a spectacular hike in an alpine beech setting, wild crystal clear rivers and open mountain vistas. It’s easily manageable as a shorter walk, with the option to return from Casey Saddle instead of looping over the Binser Saddle.

Andrew Shelter to Casey Hut. Time: 7 hours
We left the car at Andrew Shelter right next to Mount White Road. The track from Andrews Shelter to Casey Hut starts with a quick climb onto a terrace, and into beautiful New Zealand beech forest before it gently descends to Andrews Stream and then meanders above it. The Fantail that followed us turned out to be a cheerful entertainer and a loyal companion. After two hours we arrived at Andrews Stream on Hallelujah Flat – a very suitable name as it also gave our first snack break in the sun.

The track then follows the flats over Casey Saddle through open country close to Andrews Stream.  The Casey Saddle itself is a mixture of tussock and low scrubs.  After a couple of minutes the well-worn track crosses the saddle drops into the streambed below a small swamp.

The track to Casey Hut begins a few minutes below Trinity Stream-Surprise Stream and Pampas Stream Confluence. From the stream, the track descends down a ridge and emerges on a large grass flat near Casey Stream. A little detour later we arrived at the Casey Hut where we spent the first night.

Casey Stream to Pete Stream (Poulter River) Time:  3.5-4  hours
Instead of picking the track upstream from Casey Hut at the bush edge and climbing up onto the terrace which emerges on an old vehicle track in the Poulter Valley, we opted for a little detour. Since the water level was very low, we walked down the river bed of the Poulter River. After two river crossings, our GPS led us on to the old vehicle track and we then followed it until we were close to Pete Stream. This part of the track (10km) is mostly through wide open tussock grassland. We selected a camp in the Poulter Valley close to Pete Stream in the later afternoon. Highlights were definitely the beautiful open vistas from the broad bed of the Poulter, a very refreshing swim, plus a simple but delicious pasta dinner close to the crystal clear Poulter River.

Over the Binser Saddle back to Car Park. Time: 4hours
The track to the Binser Saddle starts from the ford at Pete Stream. A short early morning climb took us to the terraces and markers on the terrace rim. The track then steadily climbs up through the forest and leads in a fairly direct line to Binser Saddle and onto the ridge. The dense bush was a great shelter for the drizzles that took over from the sun mid-morning.

From the top of the Binser Saddle a downhill track drops to the Waimakariri River Flats. From the beginning of the Waimakariri River flats it is a 30 minute walk on the road back to the car park at Andrews Shelter.

Four hours after we left the Poulter River we arrived back at the car. A bit tired with sore thighs but very satisfied. It was a very pleasant long weekend away in diverse surroundings. On the way back to Christchurch we stopped at the Flock Hill Lodge and enjoyed the rewarding taste of a perfect flat white and fruit pies. If you arrive late, check out the dinner menu and consider an overnight stay at Flock Hill Lodge.

Helpful Hints

  • Take a good map – NZTopomap50: Cass BV21
  • Insect repellent and sun screen a must.
  • Be prepared for all conditions in an Alpine setting - hot, cold and wet.
  • Do not leave valuables in your car.
  • You can park your car at Arthur’s Pass and arrange a shuttle to the start of the track.

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