Crow Hut is the perfect weekender. Requiring only around 4 hours walking effort (one-way) from Klondyke Corner, this hike gives access to some magnificent scenery in Arthur’s Pass National Park.
The first hour or so is spent in the shingle bed of the Waimakariri River. Several river crossings are likely to be required, although the total number depends on the exact location of the braids at the time. Under normal to low flow conditions, and with the right choice of fording point, the crossings are typically no more than knee deep. However, at higher flows some crossings may present difficulty, and in flood, this trip simply won’t be possible. Before embarking a careful check of the weather forecast and river level is required.
As the route departs the Waimakariri and turns into the Crow Valley, the travel becomes more pleasant across large grassy flats. After a brief section of beech forest the route emerges onto the true-left (eastern) bank of the Crow River. From here the terrain gets a little rockier, but is otherwise fairly easy going. The Crow River must eventually be crossed to the true-right (again, should be no more than knee deep in normal conditions).
Over the last hour the valley constricts and the route becomes squeezed between the now tumbling river and forest. Consequently there are a few ups and downs and classic tree root clambers to be had. A large eroding slip is negotiated around 20 minutes before the hut – easy to get past but not a place to linger.
Crow Hut is a modern 10-bunk hut with basic facilities. There’s no rain tank; water must be collected from the river. Fees apply to stay here but no bookings are required (first come, first served). There are plenty of spots to pitch a tent nearby.
The next day we returned the way we came. By the way, there’s an alternative way to reach Crow Hut, and that’s via Avalanche Peak … a much more serious undertaking!