A long adventure to a stream with some canyon features which are small and well-spaced. Probably more of a half star canyon, maybe worth doing if you’ve done everything else in the area and you’re after a long-off track waterfall tramp.
We agreed to go check out Richardson Stream, on the other side of the ridge to Tui Canyon, hoping for similar geology and therefore a good canyon. After a late night and early start, we made a car shuttle into the Ashley Gorge. In the chill of the morning, we wondered if this really was a good idea and nearly bailed.
Back at Glentui Rd end, the sun peeked into the valley. With a bit of movement and hill climbing, things actually got nice and warm 🙂 The start of the stream wasn’t very exciting, with just a few sections of ‘half canyon’ and lots of boulder scrambles, though about half way down, some drops and pools had us putting on wetsuits.
Richardson had a number of nice canyon sections and features, but unfortunately they are all very spaced out, with lots of stream walking and boulder hopping in between. Just when we thought we were about to arrive at the Ashley river, Richardson stream cut through a nice section of canyon and even over a 15m waterfall!
Once at the Ashley, we proceeded upstream, with fords up to belly level. According to the eCan website, the Ashley was flowing at 13 cumecs and I wouldn’t really want to try fording it much higher than this. Indeed, you’d need to be swimming from (large) eddy to eddy above this flow. The end of the trip was a shock, with 1.5hrs of rough bush bashing through native and introduced rough foliage. 9hrs car to car.
A reasonable amount of ok canyon, but too much walking to make it worth repeating. Though the Ashley Gorge itself looks like it would be excellent fun to tube in low flows.
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I found this canyon long, but very lovely with lots of nice bedrock and lowland plants. Quite a journey through a seldom-travelled part of Canterbury. Highly recommended. Exited down the Ashley Gorge to the picnic area (reasonably straightforward at 6 cumecs). ~11hr car-to-car.
Below the confluence of the upper forks, the canyon has two beautiful intermittent gorges. The first has two rappels (~5m and 12m) while the second has two raps/jumps then ends in the final 15m waterfall. Below the confluence of Ladbrook Stream, it’s very quick non-technical walking.
There are many escapes within the gorges. Anchors are trees, although the final drop had a questionable five-finger and small beeches. I climbed out TL into the bush in search of a bigger tree.