Skills: Occasional scrambles (3/7) - Streams (2/6) Winter - Iceaxe/crampons (4/7)
A hard route connects the Spott Creek Track to the Moptutapu Track via The Stack CA, two scrubby creeks and multiple spurs. The unpenetrable nature of scrub and falls in the creeks makes multiple scrambles against the geography the best option.
From the major fork in Spotts Creek where, follow the farm track down to the forks through marginal-strip land, cross the northern fork of the creek and enter The Stack CA.
Travel up the creek is tricky - the north bank is generally impenetrable scrub and the creek has numerous gorges with pools and small falls. It can be done, preferable in summer, but is not recommended.
Sidling the PCL on the north face is only marginally better. Climb about 60m above the creek up the NW-rising spur and sidle the face in initially good tussock. Slips and scrub will eventually push you ~100m above the creek. Drop down the steep spur to the next forks in the creek 1km upriver. Allow ~1hr for this tricky section.
The creek up from the forks continues to be scrubby - though there are improved game trails for those wishing to sidle it. However, Steels Spur - climbing due west - provides excellent travel to the ridgeline on a moderate, steady gradient with no scrambles or exposure.
Land west of pt1456 is private and part of Motutapu Station. For those headed to the Mptutapu Track it is necessary to follow the easy ridgeline 2.5km north to where The Stack CA doglegs west to drop to the Fern Burn. Follow the easy ridgeline north over pt1486 and drop to the ~1250m saddle between it and pt1637. Start the climb to pt1637 to reach the first major spur dropping west from the 1300m contour.
Descend west down the spur which lies on the PCL boundary. One tricky scramble is encountered at ~1200m which can be downclimbed on the spur, or avoided by dropping north on steep snowgrass, starting 20m above the exposed section then sidling back to the spur. Descend to the forks and enter the narrow strip of beech forest on the northern valleyside.
Again, travel down the creek from this forks to the next (1km west) is borderline-impossible with waterfalls and nearly-impassable scrub. Note that the southern valleyside is private land.
Instead, climb through the beech forest and pick up steep animal trails climbing the face above to the spur north of the creek. It is a steep 100m scramble, but far better than the creekbed. Follow the broad, easy spur down to the next set of forks, 1km downriver. Good game trails lead you off the steep end of the spur to hit the creek 20m up the north fork.
Travel downriver from the last set of forks is easy - a mainly flat valleyfloor with a mix of clearing and scrub with good game trails through it. However, the final 100m of travel is on the southern valleyside, which is private land, and takes you ~20m outside of the conservation area / marginal strip - a fact indicated by a 'Private, No Access' sign at the forks with the Fern Burn. Steep, impressive bluffs form the northern valleyside at the valley mouth, and to remain within PCL it is necessary to make another ~100m climb the northern valleyside ~150m below the forks where we rejoined the river onto the next spur north, and follow spur that down to join the Fern Burn just below the forks. I have not tried this last 500m of route out - it looks steep but possible.
The Motutapu Track is on the western side of the Fern Burn and lies within The Stack CA (i.e. public land) when downstream of the forks.