Altitude: 466m to 1325m. Gain: 881m. Loss: 416m . Gradient: 8 deg (Moderate-hard)
Skills: Occasional scrambles (3/7) - Prolonged rivers (4/6)
From Princhester Base Hut head out of the trees and the cross to the fence near the hut and follow it around the base of the hill, crossing through a gate near a shed and the "Airstrip" that is shown on the map. Cut across the paddock to reach the creek.
From here the route heads upriver following the creek bank, crossing as required for the best travel. Initially through farm land, then in the bush. In February 2020 there was a marked route (coloured tape) on the true left of the creek for quite a way upstream. The markers ended after a couple of kilometres at a beech tree seed sampling site. Continue following the creek up to just below the 800m contour where a large cairn and a fairly over grown orange marker indicates the point to climb away from the creek to Upper Princhester Hut, hidden away in the trees well above the stream. The hut is damp, poorly located, and a mile away from the nearest water.
The route continues up the stream until you reach the confluence of the 3 streams. Go past the first stream on the true right, then observe the second stream flowing out of a gorge on the true left into the main stream. A scrubby ridge climbs steeply up the hill, forming the true right (south wall) of the gorge. Begin climbing here, initially straight up the ridge but then sidle south into a scrubby gully. Climb straight up to the top of the gully, where after pushing through some more scrub, open tussock slopes are reached. Climb these up the hill to sidle into the upper valley high above the main branch of Princhester Creek between 1100-1200 metres.
Cross the creek and climb towards the obvious low point on the skyline, the saddle that leads to the Aparima Valley. Moirs Guide South vaguely describes a route which passes through bluffs on the western side of the large valley on the Aparima side which gorges out lower down. I crossed over the saddle in thick fog/cloud, so rather then tackle bluffs I descended the eastern side of the valley. Sidle southwest, staying high as best as possible, crossing some steep unstable scree slopes, until you encounter a deeply incised stream dropping down into the Aparima below. The true right ridge of the stream can be followed most of the way down the mountain side. Lower down, drop into a gully west of the incised stream, and follow this the rest of the way down. The bottom of the gully pops out near the mouth of the gorge of the stream dropping down from the Princhester/Aparima saddle.
The Aparima River is mostly rocks and scree up here but there is good camping just below the 900m contour roughly a kilometre down stream.