Mt Shrimpton Track
The Mt Shrimpton Track in the McKerrow Range above Makarora, is a quiet day walk with a decent climb not too far from the top end of Lake Wanaka, in the Mt Aspiring National Park. The 6 km return track to the bush line can be extended for as far as you’d like to go, with excellent views for your efforts. If you have longer and the weather is suitable, you could attempt a summit mission and/or an overnighter to the peaks and tarns beyond.
Getting There Mt Shrimpton Track
I was looking for somewhere to stretch my legs on along the journey from Haast to Wanaka on the SH6. I scanned the topo map on the Eastern side of the pass – Brewster, Makarora and the Cameron tracks were out of my reach today, and I had already walked the busy Blue Pools track when I walked the Gillespie Pass Circuit. Mt Shrimpton was the ideal option. There is a small car park tucked into the bush on the left just before Makarora (the village between the Young and Wilkin rivers).
DoC Classify the Mt Shrimpton track as advanced and recommend 5 hours return to the bush line. I went up past the bush line to 1360m for lunch and back in 3 hours 45 minutes.
Mt Shrimpton Track
I arrived at about 10 am on a hot summer’s day and was one of a few cars in the car park. I made myself some lunch and started walking up the well-marked track at 10.15 am. You can also start from behind the motor camp in the village and I reached the junction with that track, in just a few minutes. The walk started on a gentle gradient for the first ten minutes or so, and it wasn’t long before I reached Pipson Creek. Ten minutes later, just before the track turned away from the creek to start the big climb, there was a great viewpoint over Pipson Creek looking up to Mt Shrimpton.
From here (460m) the track climbed steadily to the bush line (1160m) through very pleasant forest with a few interesting rocky and/or tree-rooty sections and a couple of fallen trees to negotiate. From 1054m the track followed the ridge for a short time before a sidle. The trees thinned just before the bush line and there was a bit of a scramble over a large rock at the edge of the trees.
From the Bush Line
I popped out of the bush line at 11.45 am to excellent views of the White Creek basin and the McKerrow Ranges. Even though a trip to the bush line is a good solid walk, it’s definitely worth heading up the track a few hundred metres to get even better views. The narrow, unmarked (but well-trodden) track continued steeply up through the low bushes.
As I climbed superb views of the Makarora valley opened up to the left. Further on, I climbed a couple of rocky sections and found a perfect, flat lunch spot on top of one (around 1360m) at midday.
The views up to Mt Shrimpton were outstanding. I hadn’t researched a summit trip then, but have since. It looks amazing – another one for the list! Alternatively, you could spend the day mooching around up on the ridge if you didn’t fancy the summit. The views across the Makarora River to the Southern Alps were equally as spectacular, and it was great to be able to see both the Young & Wilkin Rivers – either end of the Gillespie Pass Circuit.
Heading Back Mt Shrimpton Track
After half an hour I made my way down and passed a young couple doing a summit mission. I wished them well and headed into the forest, making quick work of the downhill and skidding on the loose leaves of the dry track. By 2 pm I was back down at the car park and on my way.
This is a lovely walk to have tucked up your sleeve if you’re in the area, and compared to some of the other tracks not too far away (e.g. Sawyer Burn, Isthmus Peak) you’re likely to have a quieter experience too.