Altitude: 900m to 1613m. Gain: 969m. Loss: 1004m . Gradient: 10 deg (Moderate)
Skills: Alpine weather (2/7) - Streams (2/6)
From Tin Hut, cross the Avon Burn at the 4WD ford (shin deep under normal flows), and climb the hill on the true left. A sign posted track junction points the way to the Melina Ridge Track, which is an unmarked 4WD track that is clearly visible zig-zagging its way up the hill to the south. Cross the small branch of the Avon Burn and follow the 4WD up the hill. After snaking around Pt1392, its ridge top travel for most of the way to Pt1766 with great views if its not raining.
In October we struck snow around Pt1766 and the south faces of Mt Melina, and foolishly didn't have ice axes so had to divert off the 4WD track to bypass offending slopes of snow. Shouldn't be a problem from December onwards. Heavy snow was visible around Pt1730, which can be bypassed by the route taken here.
Halfway between Mt Melina and 1730 observe steep scree slopes dropping down into a tributary of the Timaru River. Descend the ridge shown on the map on fairly loose and unstable scree. 2/3s of the way down, the ridge breaks up into steep mixed slopes of rotten scree, so descend steep slopes into the northern branch of the tributary. Once down at stream level, descent travel leads down the rest of the valley into the Timaru. The well marked Te Araroa trail is easily picked up where it crosses stony flats washed out of the tributary you've just climbed down. Follow the TA down valley to Top Timaru Hut, about 30 minutes away.
4-5 hours as described, although under normal conditions the logical route would continue following the Mt Melina Track to Mt Prospect, and follow the Mt Prospect track down to Top Timaru Hut which is probably slightly longer.