Distance: 5.1 km (4.0 DOC hours) - Unmarked route, clear - Moderate-hard terrain
Altitude: 100m to 361m. Gain: 317m. Loss: 59m . Gradient: 4 deg (Moderate)
Skills: - Prolonged rivers (4/5)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

Note: Described in the reverse direction to your journey

Dropping into the head of the Waiorongamai, 1km below it's source - the valley starts off narrow, steep sided. The stream is small, but where deep pools and small falls impede the way there is no option of climbing the steep valleysides to bypass them. Where it is flowing the river is low - barely over the ankles - but the pools are frequent, as are small waterfalls, and all require scrambles on rock faces to bypass them. Progressing downstream numerous old logjams are encountered - 5-10m tall, having blocked the entire valley and forming a dam for a flat of shingle upstream. All require steep scrambles to descend - and what you do if they prove impassible is unclear. Thankfully on my two visits, all could be climbed.

The valley floor widens as you progress- form a couple of meters to maybe 5 or 10 - all covered by river gravel. On my first visit, you could follow the valleyfloor all the way to the hut, but in 2014 a sharp canyon-like gorge in the mid-section about halfway between the headwaters and hut was inaccessible from above. A streamer of flagging tape marked an ascent onto sloping bush-clad course scree on the true left. A bit of poking around was required to get onto the clear faces, but once there progress was strightforward, avoiding bluffs above and below through broadleaf faces. Some 500-800m downriver the gorge below ended and good flats of gravel riverbed appeared - but good routes descending to the valley floor were very hard to find. Several attempts to nose my way back down to the river were required before a viable route was found.

Once there though a changed valley was encountered. The river was larger now - knee to thigh deep,and 10-20m wide in places. But the slot canyons are gone, and a good stony riverbed leads from this point the remaining 2km to the hut - though frequent crossing are required. Eventually, 1km from the hut, broad flats of mature bush open up on the true right ... later replaced by flats of invasive scrub. predominantly buddleia.

100m above the hut a broad valley of buddleia and mature bush enters from the right - a small stream in its middle. 100m downstream the main flow swings west, with a dry river channel continuing straight on. At this point a clear, but .unsignposted track leads into tall mature bush on the true right, leading 50m to Waiorongamai Hut,.