Cow Stream Hot Springs

 7-8 September 2013

 Leader: Tere, Hot spring hopefuls: Claire, Diana, Carol and Dennis A mid-winter trip to natural hot springs seemed like a great idea, at least that’s what five us thought when we signed up for this trip. The start of the track to Cow Stream is about 30min drive from Hanmer Springs on the Tophouse Road. After coffee in Hanmer we arrived at the start of the track in fine weather but with cold air from the surrounding snowy peaks. There had been a lot of rain the week before and it wasn’t long before we were trekking through very sticky clay.

After 4 to 5 km across swamp and up over a ridge, the track drops into the Edwards River (no – not the same Edwards as Arthur’s Pass!) and follows the river down towards the Waiau. When we spotted Cow Stream we headed across the tussock flats to where Cow Stream emerges from the hills and it is here the hot springs are located. But we had already been beaten by a couple of motorcycles and three people who were preparing to partake. So we said hello to them and headed further up Cow Stream to set up camp. By this time the wind was starting to blow and we quickly found that other than some scrubby matagouri bushes there was no where to shelter the tents from the wind. After setting up two tents and a fly and having
afternoon tea, we went back to the hot pools arriving as the motorcyclists were leaving. All hopes of a steamy hot spa rapidly disappeared as we discovered the water was probably about 5 deg colder than is necessary for comfort, but undeterred we hopped in. The mud on the bottom was warmer than the water and by lying really still it was possible to imagine it was glorious and good for one’s health. Much worse was getting out – a very cold wind and no shelter at all. It was a matter of getting back to the tent as soon as possible for dry warm clothes. Cold, windy and dark early! Fortunately we had a four person tent with porch we could all fit into and share for cooking, so we packed into that, cooked and ate tea and had some good laughs. By the time we separated for bed, the wind had really picked up and was really buffeting the tents quite hard, making for a broken night’s sleep. We were woken early morning by heavy rain, but by the time we finished breakfast the rain had stopped so at least we pack the wet tents in the dry. A quick stop to warm our boots and feet in the hot pool and we were trudging out. A picnic lunch in Hanmer rounded out a good experience and fun weekend.

Thanks a lot Tere – another really enjoyable trip.