Altitude: 480m to 1181m. Gain: 728m. Loss: 45m . Gradient: 10 deg (Moderate)
Skills: Alpine weather (2/7) Winter - Snow/ice underfoot (2/7)
A broad, moss-covered track climbs the spur behind Shutes Hut through manuka bush. Moderately steep at first it eases further as you climb towards the bushedge at around 850m. Beyond the bushedge, claypan and low scrub replace the manukua bush and the track becomes indiscinct, meandering between adjoining clearings of claypan. Occasional cairns and warratahs mark the way, but often you are left to follow your nose.
Passing the first 956m summit you swing south and enter scrubby tussock tops, dropping to a saddle then climbing another 100m to the next high point. Throughout, you are left to find your own way south along the ridgeline - there are very few markers and no clear ground trail. A long climb leads to pt1183, and in bad weather compass work was required on these brad tops.
Thankfuully, the ridge narrows between pt1183 and pt11800 and the route is identifable along the escarpment of the Koau valley. A wooden signpost at the point where the ridge swings west marks the turnoff to Dianes Hut in the Koau valley below. Shutes -> Junction, 2 - 3.5hrs