Altitude: 596m to 664m. Gain: 87m. Loss: 39m . Gradient: 2 deg (Flat)
Skills: - Occasional rivers (3/6)
The route upriver from Lower Matakuhia Hut is painted as a nightmare in both lower and upper hut books, but I found it a relatively easy riverbed route. I can only guess that either a) previous visitors had tried to follow old overgrown or non-existent sidle tracks, or that the riverbed formerly contained a lot of windfall which has since rotted / been washed away.
After crossing the clearing above the hut, I returned to the riverbed - still a broad, flat flow over good fine river pebbles. Two spots of windfall required scrambling over in the first km or so, but nothing hard or prolonged.
1km below the track junction, 1 slot gorge interrupts the good travel. Going upriver black/white marker tape marked the start of s short route over a low spur, bypassing the gorge on the east (true left) and returning to flats upriver. There were no markers on the route itself, nor at the upriver end, but the ground trail was well used and easy to follow.
300m below the junction a second gorge is encountered. The valleysides on wither side are steep and high, and climbing round would involve a long climb, so I walk through in the river instead. 1 pool required a brief scramble on rocks to bypass, but otherwise it was ok through the gorge in low-moderate flows - knee deep.
Above the gorge the easy-going river pebbles and and large rounded slippery river rocks take over - the river banks become more attractive places of travel. Out of nowhgere DOC triangles start - first on the true right, then crossing to the true left (east). These climb the eastern bank above a third gorge, the track uncut but followable. 10-15m above the river, atop a spur and adjacent to a small confluence, a signpost marks the junction of the Matakuhia and Opureke Tracks, and the mid-point (n time) between the two huts.
The DOC signposts say 2hrs from here to either hut, and given it took me 1hr to each I'll stick with this 2hr DOC time. However, be aware that many people reported trips of up to 7hrs between huts.