55km south of Blenheim is a great little day excursion you can take anyone from your 2 year old to your Grandma on. Sawcut Gorge has everything going for it - easy access off the main highway (Turn off SH1 on the North side of the Waima River Bridge and follow it 12km to its end at Blue Mountain Station), beautiful sections of slow moving, tranquil river and a 150m high chasm less than an hour in. We were heading back to Christchurch after three days up the Hodder River climbing Tappy for the second time when we decided to detour to this well known spot. The road is gravel but negotiable with a 2WD right until the very end where the station owners have kindly provided parking literally at their front door, legends.
After signing the visitor book and leaving the rest of our party to play in the river a few minutes walk from the car, the two of us gunned it up stream to check out the gorge. This is definitely a trip for a hot day as we made our way passed several great swimming holes and ploughed thigh deep through sections of lazy river. There is some boulder hopping in places or you could just swim through the deeper parts of water if you're that way inclined. The track leaves the river bed between Waima River and Isolation Creek before distributing you back to the water just before the Gorge itself.
We spent some time taking photos in the chasm before heading further upstream just to see what we could see. Isolation Hut is a cool 2.5 hours in from the car park with 6 bunks if you plan to stay for an evening. With the group waiting for us we turned around just shy of this point (we think) and made our way back through the gorge and out to the track end. I stopped for a quick swim at one of the deeper pools before rendezvousing with the rest of the clan who had staked out a great picnic spot under the trees. Although short, this track is definitely a highly recommended for when the weather is nice.
DOC Times: 1hr 30mins to Sawcut Gorge
2hr 30mins to Isolation Hut
Take with you: a water bottle, running shoes and your camera
Prepare to get your feet wet.
In New Zealand we don't go hiking, walking or frolicking in the wilderness - we tramp.