Altitude: 28m to 471m. Gain: 1130m. Loss: 1139m . Gradient: 7 deg (Moderate)
A well-used but mostly unmarked route runs down the ridgeline / escarpment east of Lake Poteriteri between Slaughterburn and Poteriteri Hut. Times vary hugely from sub-5 hours to 21 hours with the majority in the 12-14 hour timeframe. It's hard to see why such variance - the unmarked route is through low-gradient, fairly open bush, so vegetation and terrain are not the issue. I suspect from hut book comments that the main delay is people seeking out 'the track', rather than following the terrain.
Slaughterburn to pt292
From the eastern end of the swingbridge at the confluence of the Slaughterburn and Waitutu, head north along the low terrace from the bridge. Soon (2-300m) a 20-30m high slope appears to your right: climb it. At the top you will find open bush and a good ground trail running north along the top of the escarpment, with occasional bait stations marked in pink/yellow. Follow escarpment / ridgeline / bait stations over pt149, pt139, pt246 and to pt292. The bait station line ends just north of the highpoint.
pt292 to pt144
This middle section of the route is not marked: good compass skills required. Just north of pt292 a saddle drops due west, leading to the continuation of the main ridgeline. Follow the main ridgeline generally NW over pt388. The saddle west to pt 316 can be tricky to find and has thick fern so can be slow - take your time and get it right. From pt316 the ridgeline is fairly clear heading due west to pt267 across an otherwise featureless plateau. Beyond pt267 the ridgeline vanishes, and I took a bearing of 40 degrees and continued along it across featureless boggy but open forest floor until I intersected the escarpment above Lake Poteriteri just before the climb to pt475.
A creek NW of pt328 gives the only water along the route, with good camping on a clearing on the escarpment overlooking Lake Poteriteri 100m north of it.
Follow the edge of the escarpment as it climbs to pt475 - there's a good ground trail. Head due north off pt475 and pick up the spur dropping due north before dropping NW between the two creeks. Again, locating the start of the spur can be tricky. At around the 100m contour the steady descent becomes gentler and a terrace leads north across the small creek and down to the boggy saddle with pt144. Avoiding the worst of the windfall and small bluffs, climb steeply onto pt144.
Pt144 to Poteriteri Hut
A marked trapline runs from pt144 to Poteriteri Hut. Markers are blue and yellow triangles. The line follows the ridge down over pt144, pt112 to the edge of the swamp south of the hut. Follow the edge of the swamp 100m west to the lakeshore where there is a good beach. The small creek is crossed on a walkwire. The hut is on the beach 300m beyond.