Murchison River (II/III+) and Tasman Lake via Onslow Hut

An off-trail adventure up the seldom visited Murchison Valley, among NZ’s highest peaks and glacial valleys. This trip involves considerable route finding skill, especially amongst the moraine features of the valley. As the Glaciers continue to recede, this trip may become more difficult, or even impossible. This trip is suitable for parties with experience around the terminal features of glaciers. The paddling is on glacially fed water, so consider your cold water protection carefully!

This trip page is a paraphrase of a trip report by Craig Hosking His information and photos are used with his permission.

View Larger Topographic Map

Up Valley to Onslow Hut
From the Tasman Lakes track, packraft across to the moraine arm of the Murchison River. Travel along here was good, and later it joined a track making for even faster travel. Where the river heads more north east, there is some tricky scrub, that may or may not be avoidable with routefinding.

Continue up the moraine, looking for the best route.

The Murchison valley provides much better travel than the Tasman, all the way up to Onslow Hut (4 bunks) or Liebig Hut (6 bunks)

Take a look at the NZAC Climbing Database for more information about access in the lower Murchison Valley to learn more about the huts and futher route descriptions.

The Murchison River (II / III+) from Murchison Glacier Lake
From the Murchison Glacier Terminal Lake, the trip report suggestions sections of class III+ as you exit the lake, easing to class III and then II+. About 2hrs from the lake to the end of the Murchison Valley. Below here, the Murchison River increases difficulty considerably, (class IV-V?).

The Tasman Lake
At the time of the trip report, it was a straight forward hike over to the head of the Tasman Lake across the Moraine to the Tasman Lake to Paddle home. As glacier conditions change, the access from the moraine wall to the glacier and to the lake may change.

This information should be read in conjunction with Craig Hosking’s Blog post on his trip.

One trip report Log your trip

  1. Rachel says:

    This makes a great overnight trip.
    From what we saw, entering/exiting the lake at the Glacier terminal face was not a feasible option – but I expect this changes a lot.
    Travel alongside the Murchison river to reach the main valley was straightforwards – better than on the moraine.
    We started below the boulder garden rapids at the lake outlet, from which it was grade 2+ish paddling. Where the river becomes more braided it was quite scrapey – would have been better with more water in it.

    • Date of your trip -24 October 2022
    • Estimated/gauge flow -Low flow
    • When did it last rain and how much? -Unsure
    • How long did it take to paddle the section described here? -A few hours paddling
    • Any new hazards? -

Submit a trip report

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *