Altitude: 937m to 1602m. Gain: 831m. Loss: 753m . Gradient: 16 deg (Moderate-hard)
Skills: Occasional scrambles (3/7)
If weather is good, the simplest route between Lake Wapiti and Kiwi Flat / the Doon-Large Burn saddle is via the summit of Mt Donald. However, note that good visibility is required for the descent to Kiwi Flat where multiple overlapping bluff-lines must be navigated.
From the western head of Lake Wapiti, follow the creek west and up towards the Twin Falls saddle, cutting NW up the face where the valley swings north towards the pass. The route is obvious in clear weather, zigzagging between steep bluffed sections on first snowgrass and later stable scree to reach the ridgeline maybe 400m west of the saddle. From here, follow the ridgeline up as it climbs to Mt Donald on snowgrass and later rock-scree.
Mt Donald offers amazing views of the sounds, Lake Te Anau, north past Mt Earnslaw and east to the Remakabales and beyond.
Follow the main ridgeline WSW off the summit of Donald for maybe 600m to where rock changes from grey to red-orange. At this point a scree face or initially red rock drops on the Kiwi Flat side heading directly towards the northern end of the Large Burn saddle visible below, cutting diagonally across the face. Follow this scree face down until it bluffs out, at which point you need to cut back east below bluffs to get close to the gully you have crossed - where you can drop through the next line bluffs. Some minor zigzagging gets you down to the first of several small tussock terraces, which can be descended-from near its western end. Access to the larger tussock terrace visible on the map is back east again near the creek. There is a lot of zig-zagging and route-spying involved in this descent, and it takes time.
From the broad tussock terrace overlooking Kiwi Flat, a small obvious gut climbs briefly and steeply to the northern end of the saddle with the Large Burn. Once on the saddle follow the ridgeline south past numerous tarns to the lowest point on the saddle - at the head of the small valley draining the southern-most end of the saddle SW into the Large Burn.
There are numerous small tarns on the saddle and most have good dry camping. Most are exposed to the westerly, but a couple at the northern end are more sheltered from that side.
Lake Wapiti - Mt Donald summit: 3km, 2-4 hrs
Mt Donald to terrace above Kiwi Flat: 2km, 1.5-2.5 hrs
Kiwi Flat to Large Burn saddle: 1km, 1-1.5 hrs