Distance: 6.1 km (3.0 DOC hours) - Tramping track - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 608m to 1043m. Gain: 563m. Loss: 434m . Gradient: 9 deg (Moderate)
Skills: - Occasional rivers (3/5)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

Note: Described in the reverse direction to your journey

50m east of the Makahu Saddle carpark (back along the road) a signpost on the south side points towards Mackintosh Hut. A broad walking track has been cut through the manuka, and soon emerges onto a gravel road, along which we continue SE, passing some buildings labeled "Hydrological Research". The maintained road ends just beyond the building, and a broad, eroded track of sun- baked clay climbs steadily beyond through pines of the "Ngahere Experimental Basin". Reaching the ridgeline the track swings south along the ridge, 3km of rock, clay-pan and pinetrees. The track is generally well marked but at a few clearings it can take some nosing around to pick up on the far side.

Suddenly the track ends - a DOC marker points west and a narrow tramping track drops off the ridge towards the Donald River below. Initially zigzagging down pine faces, sidling into manuka, more zigzags, then finally into beech - the track becoming a narrow footworn trail slithering down the steep slope carpeted with beech leaves.

The Donald river occupies the entire valley floor - don't expect to camp - and was narrow and knee-deep in moderate flows - an easy crossing, though capable of flooding.

The climb up the far side is even steeper than the descent. Little more than a marked route up the face via a series of slips and beech-littered faces. Track markers are present, however. Finally the route finds a spur to follow and becomes a more permanent, distinct track. Another 100 vertical meters brings you to the lip of the valley and ... more pine trees.

An easy, absolutely flat 1.5km follows swinging south to the out. 300m before the hut a signposted junction marks the point where the (former) Kaweka Biv Track and Mackintosh Spur tracks join from the west. The hut sits on the edge of an area of mature beech overlooking a large clearing.

Created by: Madpom on 2014-10-06