I had heard great things about the St James Conservation Area from so many friends and had seen it from afar from Molesworth Station in the past… But it the was lure of natural hot pools in the wild, along the Edwards River that grabbed my curiosity and so I locked in the plan to find them.
Just a few anecdotal descriptions from mates and a brief sentence on the DOC website was all I had to go on… but Rocky, Badger and I decided to give it a go regardless.
As Rocky was training for the Kepler Challenge Ultra Run, biking was out of the question, so a mission on foot was drawn up and lucky for Badger, this part of the St James was dog friendly!
It was hot day, without any shade, so Badger and I were really grateful for the 6 river crossings we made on the return journey.
Apart from being my first time in the St James, it was also my first decent day hike (jog) that I have done using only my running gear. It was life changing. Shoes that were light, cushioned and drained well, a pack that I could move fast in, and light weight layers that kept the sun off and would have protected me from the elements should I had needed it.
See my gear list below.
Badger was a champ and carried some extra water for me too, as despite the amazing clarity of the water, there are plenty of cows along the Clarence River and getting sick was not on my weekend’s agenda!
It was a 13km or so hike to the mysterious hot pools, which up until recently had been accessible by 4WD (but not at time of writing). I was expecting a shallow pool of warm sludge or a plethora of people splashing about. What we got was calm, warm, clear water… all to ourselves. I imagine it is the 13km hike out afterwards that puts many people off, when really all you want is a coldie to help enjoy the view!
Badger was not keen on the smell of sulphur, so needed no reminding to stay out of the pools, and instead kept himself busy with lunch laying in the long grass.
The route we chose was dog and horse friendly, however many parts of this area are not dog friendly due to Kiwi. So pick your route wisely if taking a dog, and check DOC for any changes.
What I took for the day:
Snap 4 Hydration Pack.
Allez Hoodie to layer with.
Super light weight rain coat.
Soft Flasks for water.
WAYYY to many snacks! (Yes I like GU!)
Montane Chief for emergency warmth.
Pack Towel for post hot springs!
Rocky carried the first aid kit and the map (and extra snacks!!)