Jollie Brook Circuit in a day (again) + side trip to Cold Stream Hut

It’s been 3 years since I did Jollie Brook. Back then, we technically took two days as we slept near the car. I’ve been wondering for a while if it’s doable as a day trip together with the drive. I scheduled it as a last-minute CTC trip. There were six of us. To accommodate the rather lengthy drive, we left Christchurch at 6 AM. Google Maps shows that the drive takes 2 hours and 45 minutes, but in fact, it only took us 2 hours (no speeding) and we were walking by 8:15 AM.

We started off by the second bridge over the Hurunui River. It took us just over two hours to reach Gabriel Hut. The hut is in a nice spot but in rather poor condition. It smells like rat droppings, and around the hut, one can find a decent amount of rubbish. Ashes next to the hut were full of burnt plastic and glass, a very sad sight really. Much nicer is Jollie Brook, which is another 1.5 hours away over Gabriel’s Saddle. By Jollie Brook Hut, there are plenty of nice camping spots, and the hut itself is indeed much nicer than Gabriel Hut. Jollie Brook Hut has two separate bunk rooms and a nice kitchen with a fireplace. The only downside is the sandflies, which are plentiful around the hut.

Right after Jollie Brook in the southeast direction, a pleasant, easy-going track turns into a decent adventure. The track is only vaguely marked and includes perhaps 40 river crossings on the way to the car park and another 20 stream crossings to Cold Stream Hut. Markers are sparse and we did wonder a few times where to go. The track sometimes just follows the river bed. If you happen to come here with kids, I’d only recommend going from the car park and the second bridge over Huruni River (-42.775527, 172.31811) over Gabriel Hut to Jollie Brook hut and back the same way. The southeastern part of the track is unexpectedly demanding compared to the part between the second bridge and Jollie Brook Hut. Don’t get me wrong: it’s still a pretty relaxed experience for an experienced party, but I know a few families who regretted trying to finish the whole loop with their kids. Also, there is virtually no river crossing between the car park and Jollie Brook Hut along the west part of the track, but there are dozens of river crossings in the SE part.

The Cold Stream Hut side trip took us about 45 minutes each way. It’s quite a nice hut actually, and I’d be happy to stay in it.

The whole circuit, including the Cold Stream Hut side trip, took us 7 hours and 56 minutes at a decent pace with a few breaks.

Stats: 32 km, 8 h, 570 m ascent

Participants: Michal Klajban (leader, scribe, GPX), Chris McHarg, Mark Nicholls, Alan Ross, Phillip Wallis, Vicky Havill
Tramped on 26th June 2024.



Total distance: 31171 m
Max elevation: 802 m
Min elevation: 467 m
Download file: GPX-hikingisgood-com-nz-2024-Jollie-Brook-Circuit.gpx

About the Author

I lived a pretty ordinary life for a while. I did my studies, my second studies, my third studies, my first job, my second job, and my third job. I wasn’t really sure what’s going on so, in 2014, I left my home country (Czechia) to learn about the world. I’m still not sure what’s going on but I enjoy it much more. I lived in a few countries before settling in New Zealand.

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