Altitude: 195m to 460m. Gain: 637m. Loss: 372m . Gradient: 14 deg (Moderate)
Skills: - Streams (2/5)
Dropping NE from Puffer Saddle, the benched, cut, marked track sidles the scrubby valleyside before zigzagging down to the Smith Creek valley floor - a 200m descent into beautiful mature podocarp bush. At first the track surface is clay and can be slippery - but it is otherwise a good, easy track. After crossing the small stream (campspots at the crossing, small creek - very unlikely to be impassable) the track sidles the north-western valleyside for a further 3km to the confluence of Smith Creek and the Tauherenikau. The loop track from the former Dobson Hut site joins at the confluence, and 100m further on Smith Creek shelter is just off the track on the uphill side.
Before one of the side stream crossings, the track takes a hard left to climb a few metres up the stream. The old track (markers now removed) crosses directly over the stream and continues over two old slips (which were passable as of Oct 2017) and is a more direct route. A DOC detour sign exists at the northern end of this detour, but is unmarked on the southern end. Track has not been marked as closed, merely that a detour is present.