After being inspired by Nathan’s awesome blog post recounting his own day trip up to the Bealey Spur Hut (seriously, check out his blog), I decided to shoot up for a quick overnight camp with Evangeline. We didn’t get away until 5pm, however given the Bealey Hut carpark is not that far out of town and sunset was after 8:30pm I felt we still had time:

It was only after we left that I realized the annual Coast to Coast Adventure Race was on this weekend which would guarantee more traffic than usual (however, I was thrilled to see a former teaching colleague of mine won the 2 day Individual Men’s event by more than 7mins!)

For a two minute summary of the trip, check out this video:

Day One & Hike Up To Bealey Spur Hut

View Larger Topographic Map

Having a later start, I was conscious of the fading daylight, yet on reflection I think we chose an almost perfect time for the trip. There was enough light but without the intense heat of earlier in the day and, given the steep incline that was hard (and hot!) work, we welcomed the absence of direct sunlight.

Route map for Bealey Spur – Carpark To Hut by Sam McNeil on

After the initial bush stages, we emerged into incredible views across the Waimakariri River:

2020-02-07 19.35.08

2020-02-07 19.48.21

The frequent use of boardwalks (a particular favourite of mine on hikes) was welcome given some of the very wet conditions underfoot, before the extended boardwalk across the marshlands near a few tarns (small, alpine lakes). Check the video above for some timelapse footage of Evie walking across it.

2020-02-07 19.58.29

As we neared the campsite by the Bealey Spur Hut, a massive moon began to slowly climb above the peaks on the far side of the river – it looked incredible and taking photos on a smartphone rarely does it justice:

2020-02-07 20.28.21

With fatigue setting in and the sun almost below the ridge line we arrived at the hut and immediately set about pitching the tent and cooking some dinner. This was the first time we had taken our new MacPac Minaret tent away, but we quickly had it pitched and were chatting with an American student from the University of Southern California as we cooked some dinner and made some hot milo to drink:

2020-02-07 21.51.35

With darkness well and truly upon us and fatigued legs, we crashed to sleep. I was tempted to get up in the middle of the night and check out the stars as it was an exceptionally clear night, however strong winds picked up around 2am and persuaded me to keep warm.

Day Two & Hike To Point 1545

When we had arrived the previous evening we spied the peak of Point 1545 silhouetted against the fading sky and in fact the student from USC was descending from there as we completed pitching our tent. We determined to have a crack at climbing it before breakfast:

Route map for Point 1545 by Sam McNeil on

It was certainly a steep wee number, with some impressive drops along the ridge line that demanded we take care and pay attention. On summiting, we were rewarded with stunning views, tired legs and a bitingly cold wind:

2020-02-08 08.04.56

With stomaches rumbling for breakfast and cold cheeks, we decided to head back to camp below. On the way down I spotted these beautiful flowers growing well above the bush line:

2020-02-08 08.36.50

2020-02-08 08.36.56

Pack Down, Breakfast & Departure

Evie decided it would be best to pack down the tent before cooking porridge for breakfast, and we were both pleased this didn’t take long. We chatted with some other students from Virginia who had arrived after we had gone to bed – like the earlier student, they were here for a semester of study in Dunedin at the University of Otago.

The return trip was uneventful although, given the steepness of many sections of the track, we did not end up going that much faster than on the way up. Nevertheless, the views never disappointed:

2020-02-08 10.34.07

We were both glad to jump into the warm car and then watch some of the Coast to Coast cyclists racing past as we joined the heavy traffic on the return trip to Christchurch. We were home before 2pm, so we made not bad time and given the views and fun we had it seemed we had crammed a lot into less than 24hrs!

It was awesome to see much of the new gear we had bought worked well and I’m already scheming the next adventure.