Dry Acheron Track, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park, Canterbury NZ

A pleasant walk up the Dry Acheron Stream through what I’ve seen described as ‘handsome scrublands’, passing through a few small gullies along the way, and with views of surrounding mountains.

Dry Acheron Track, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park

We’d originally intended to walk this track for access to Big Ben Mountain*, but low cloud put us off climbing this. So we settled for finishing the Dry Acheron Track, which follows the Dry Acheron Stream from where it passes through a series of small gullies and other valley landforms, to where it emerges from a rugged valley in the Big Ben Range. I’d heard the area around the stream described as ‘handsome scrublands’, and I think this is an apt description.

It’s a pretty if not spectacular walk, and mostly flat if you are wanting something a bit less intense than many NZ hikes. Track notes at the end. (* We ended up climbing Big Ben just a few weeks later. Click on the link for that blog post.)

Dry Acheron Track: The Scenery

Dry Acheron Track, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park
The Dry Acheron Stream

Dry Acheron Track, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park

Dry Acheron Track, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park
The distant hill is one of two nature preserve covenants accessible from this track.

Dry Acheron Track, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park

Dry Acheron Track, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park
I liked these bushes which were common on the route.
Dry Acheron Track, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park
A side valley. You don’t walk up here.

Dry Acheron Track, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park Dry Acheron Track, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park

Dry Acheron Track, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park
The route up Big Ben is to the right. The stream continues up the rugged valley in the centre.
Dry Acheron Track, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park
A baby spider creche. The dark mass is the baby spiders. They moved when I touched the web.

The next few pictures are from the lower slopes of Big Ben…

Dry Acheron Track, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park
The Dry Acheron Stream. A misty Mt Hutt in the background. (From the lower slopes of Big Ben).
Dry Acheron Track, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park
The rugged valley containing the upper Dry Acheron Stream. (From the lower slopes of Big Ben).
Dry Acheron Track, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park
Big Ben in mist. (From the lower slopes of Big Ben).
Dry Acheron Track, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park
The Dry Acheron Stream running towards the Rakaia River. (From the lower slopes of Big Ben).
Dry Acheron Track, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park
The Mt Hutt Range looked quite imposing. (From the lower slopes of Big Ben).
Dry Acheron Track, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park
The pointy hill is in the nature preserve covenant at the end of the track. (From the lower slopes of Big Ben).

Back on the Dry Acheron Track, returning to the start…

Dry Acheron Track, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park
Walking back was a bit quicker than the outward leg due to familiarity with the route.
Dry Acheron Track, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park
Near the end of the track.


Track Notes

Dry Acheron Track, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park
The Dry Acheron Track is marked, although here and there it’s easy to lose the track, but it’s never very far away. You cross the stream multiple times. The route up Big Ben, which we started, is only very occasionally marked, and there isn’t much of a track to speak of. It’s very steep.

The track along the Dry Acheron Stream is intermittently marked. It crosses the stream on multiple occasions, and from reading other people’s blogs I know that if the water level is high enough you will likely get wet feet. It wasn’t so high when we did it in Autumn after a dry spell, and with boots and gaiters we kept entirely dry feet. The stream is in fact dry in sections, flowing only in some seasons (summer I think), but is perennial in others.

Side Trips

We took two side trips to visit nature reserves (called covenants) along the way. I think we did this only because we aborted our planned ascent of Big Ben due to low cloud, and I’m not sure these trips added much to the walk. Nice to see native scrub intermingled with cabbage trees though. One of them is at the end of the track and the section from Big Ben to this point was away from stream and next to farmland, and you might give it a miss if pressed for time or wanting to conserve energy. We did climb a couple of hundred metres up Big Ben and got some views, but we’ll return again to complete this walk.

You can get more information on this walk on the DOC website. There is a small car park at the start, and you walk for a while next to pine trees through farmland to meet the stream.

Author: Edward Hathway

I'm a clinical psychologist and keen hiker.

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