Deception-Mingha Track

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Geoff Chapple

“Havent heard of that track before?”And well you might ask, as the Deception­-Mingha forms the mountain run component of the celebrated Coast-to-Coast race. Top athletes complete it in around three hours.

This route is a good step up for walkers wanting a “wilderness” experience. Though be warned, like any alpine route in New Zealand, it requires respect, preparation and awareness of local conditions. On the Deception side the track is rough and not regularly marked. However, in good conditions it is a reasonable route which most trampers take two days to complete.

Enter the track by crossing the Otira River on the Morrison footbridge then follow the Deception River up the true right side across river flats. Cross to the true left and follow rock cairns through the lower gorge, re-crossing the river where necessary. The route involves many river crossings—up to ten significant crossings in the lower Deception alone—so is vulnerable to bad weather. Don’t attempt it in heavy rain or when heavy rain is forecast. Come prepared to wait out flood conditions.

Continue to pick your way upwards, mostly in the riverbed though there are some small tracked portions under bush cover. There is a final steep climb over rough terrain to get up to the Goat Pass Hut (20 bunks), located a short distance below the pass itself. This is a good spot to overnight.

From the hut the track improves signifi­cantly but still has many river crossings. The track crosses Goat Pass on boardwalk sections then descends towards the bushline into the Mingha Valley. The track departs the river course towards Dudley’s Knob to avoid a difficult gorge and continues down to the Lower Mingha flats. Look for a safe crossing of the Bealey River near its confluence with the Mingha River and continue down towards Greyney Shelter Campsite on SH 73. The track line rises to the road along the way.

The area is also home to rare and protected blue duck/whio. DOC asks for sightings to be reported to staff at the Visitor Centre in Arthur’s Pass.

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