Altitude: 275m to 499m. Gain: 37m. Loss: 256m . Gradient: 1 deg (Flat)
Skills: - Prolonged rivers (4/6)
From Army Hut head down river, initially on an old 4WD track. It is now possible to stay on the true left the whole way between Army Hut and Takaro Lodge, there are marked routes through the bush sections. At Takaro Lodge, a large deer fence extends almost to the river, the only gate is heavily padlocked and there's no way to cross over to reach the lodge without considerable effort scaling the fence. Instead, follow a narrow muddy stock track that follows the river bank down river past the lodge complex which extends almost to the river (not shown on the map here).
Farm land stretches all the way down river to a gorge between Umbrella and Coal Pit Flats. There is a marginal strip which follows the river bank so don't stray away from it. With the river up, it is mostly uncrossible except for in certain spots where the river braids or splits into channels that can be tackled one at a time. A pack raft or some sort of inflatable device would make for a pleasant speedy float the whole way to Te Anau once out of the trees.
In the gorge, reached in about 4.5 hours from Army Hut, a gate is passed through which seems to mark the end of land belonging to Takaro Lodge. From here an old 4WD starts which runs south down the river through a much larger marginal strip. It seems the whole river bed is Conservation Land, much of it filled with waist-chest high grass and long ago sprayed scrub. The 4WD track heads down river, crossing as required and some times heading well away from the river bank as the river meanders across the valley floor. When the rivers up, it often isn't possible to cross the river when the track does, so battle your way down river through the grass and flood channels as best you can.
The lower gorge is reached about 8 hours from Army Hut. This one is impossible to get through without swimming when the rivers up. While I am adverse to recommending trespassing, once across the fence on the true right side of the river, climb the farm track up the hill to a paddock on top of the spur north of the river, shown on the map. You can climb back down to the river west of the spur to return to conservation land, but I still found the gorge blocked by the river. Cross the paddock to another farm track and follow this to a private road shown on the map coming off Sinclair Road. Its a straight forward if long road bash down Sinclair Road and down SH94 to the Upukerora road bridge and on to Te Anau, a 10.5 hour day from Army Hut.