Altitude: 1017m to 1368m. Gain: 375m. Loss: 27m . Gradient: 10 deg (Moderate)
Skills: Alpine weather (2/7) - Streams (2/6)
If coming up the Routeburn from Howden Hut continue following the track for another 3 minutes once past the small bridge over Sunny Creek. Keep an eye on the uphill side of the track, look for a dry water course draining off a grass slope which climbs up the hill. If you're coming from Lake Mackenzie, follow the track past the long drop toilet for another 30 metres around the next corner.
Leave the track and climb the grass slope up through alpine trees. A low rock is climbed over and the trees are left behind. Once clear of the trees, cut to the right (south ) beneath a small gully of scrub then continue climbing to the east, between the scrub and a bluff. As a higher bluff approaches, a broad shelf with an animal trail on it leads between the bluffs to where you overlook a small basin at 1100m south of you. Descend into the basin and then climb the low ridge just short of the Sunny Creek waterfall to reach a great vantage point to look out over the Hollyford valley and the Routeburn track. There's discreet camping on the south side of the ridge beside the creek, although you are not 500m away from the track here. The rock on the true left side of the waterfall is a great place to sit and admire the view.
The mouth of the hanging valley Sunny Creek comes out of is initially full of boulders and thickly scrubbed. Best travel is literally in the creek bed. The creek dries up and goes underground for several hundred metres by January but otherwise is barely over your knees for its length if you find it above ground. There's small pebbly campsites in the scrub on dry flood routes if you're worried about camping within 500m of the Routeburn near the Sunny waterfall.
Once out of the scrub belt keep to the true left as the creek drops from the valley head in a deep ravine. The true right side becomes bluffed higher up. Follow moderate slopes up past more and more boulders. When the creek splits up into smaller tributaries (not really shown on the map) the most direct way to the lake involves crossing all of the branches but keeping on the true left of the most western branch. Follow it to the lake. Theres good camping on the southwest side of the lake.
There's another small lake at the source of the middle branches hidden up amoung boulders at about 1400 metres under Peak 1620.
Pt 1611 is a steep but moderately straightforward scramble up a loose scree slope all the way to the top. The views overlooking the dying glacier east of the ridge stretch all the way to Lake Wakatipu.
Routeburn - hanging valley mouth: 30-45 minutes
Hanging valley mouth - Sunny lake: 1h-1h30
Top of Sunny Creek - Pt 1611: 1h