Altitude: 422m to 711m. Gain: 61m. Loss: 350m . Gradient: 4 deg (Moderate)
Skills: - Occasional rivers (3/6)
From Mangamate Hut, the benched track sidle the true tight of the valley to the north. Great going, dropping gently towards the valley floor. However, after less than a kilometer, DOC markers point left off the benched track towards the valley floor. The old benched track continues ahead, overgrown and choked with windfall, but we drop down a steep zigzag track to the creek.
The track then becomes a marked route, splashing downriver in the narrow valley. Eventaully, small flats open and sections of track appear, and by the time we reach the confluence with the Upper Mangamate, the tracks are more-or-less continuous.
A large grassy clearing at the forks marks the former location of the hut. Markers start downriver, a cut track through toetoe flats, but soon give in and we're dumped in the river to continue there. The riverbed is fine pebbles and good going, and it is generally only ankle deep at this stage. Periodically, the valley narrows, forcing track cutters to put in sections of rough sidle track on the valleysides, until the valley floor and riverbed again become wide enough to walk down. The DOC triangles eventually give up entirely, but a kilometer or so above the confluence with the Whirinaki they return. They are worth following, as from here on 'real' tracks starts.
Shortly after the markers restart, where the track is on the true right of the stream, a small 'Track' sign is encountered pointing downriver. This sign marks the junction with the old roadbed which climbs NE to the Moerangi Track. Why it is not better marked, I can only guess.
By the lower end of this route the stream is of moderate size: 3-5m wide and knee deep in normal flows. In heavy rain it could easily become impassible.