Length: from 5.0 up to 6.0 days
Distance: 63.2 km (32.6 DOC hours) - Unmarked route, clear - Moderate-hard terrain
Altitude: 459m to 1483m. Gain: 2665m. Loss: 2894m . Gradient: 5 deg (Moderate-hard)
Skills: Alpine weather (2/7) - Prolonged rivers (4/5) Winter - Snow/ice underfoot (2/7)

Of the multitude possibilities, this crossing of the two ranges is reasonably direct and includes a splash through the Makino River gorge.

A side trip to Mangatainoka Hot Springs is a relaxing finish to the tramp.

It's a through trip so a (rather long) car shuffle is required - better to walk it with two groups (and swap keys in the middle) or have a good friend do the drop-off and pick-up.


Distance: 10.0 km (4.0 DOC hours) - Tramping track - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 678m to 1156m. Gain: 537m. Loss: 629m . Gradient: 7 deg (Moderate)
Skills: - Streams (2/5)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

Mature beech trees cover the flats, dim light dappling an open forest floor carpeted in beech leaves beneath. Robins are evident for the first time in the trip, practicing their scales from branches above, and hoping you disturb something tasty. The track too is a welcome change: a broad, 2m wide benched track, well cut and well marked. After a kilometer-or-so of warm-up on the flats, the track begins to climb, rising with the ridge. Benched into the face, zigzagging where going gets steep, it is easy, fast travel. A couple of kilometers into the climb, the track passes through a grassy clearing – the site of the former Te Iringa Hut, now gone. There’s no obvious water here, so be warned if you were thinking of camping.

Soon after the beech is left behind and the ridgeline becomes scrubby. The highpoint of the track is 1160m, but the climb has been so gentle, you’d hardly have realised you’d gained 400m from the road. From there the track continues to sidle, dropping back into mature beech, and finally reaching Tiki Tiki Stream.

A good, well-used campsite exists just before the first stream, but it’s another 2km to the swingbridge across the main Kaipo river (more campsites on the south side of the bridge. If you're lucky: blue ducks in the water below).

Created by: Madpom on 2014-10-03
Last updated by: Madpom at 2014-10-03 15:16:32

Distance: 6.8 km (2.5 DOC hours) - Tramping track - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 635m to 699m. Gain: 80m. Loss: 122m . Gradient: 2 deg (Gentle)
Skills:
GPX info source: Drawn on map

From the Kaipo swingbridge, there’s another 7km of travel along river terraces to reach the Oamaru Hut. For the most part this is a broad track, cool and shaded though mature beech forest. The river meanders nearby: sometimes visible, sometimes not, banks lined with tall toetoe.

Shortly before the hut this comes to a sudden end: the shaded bush stopping on a sharp, ruled line to be replaced by open scrubby tussock flats. 500m further downriver Oamaru Hut sits on a terrace at the confluence of the Oamaru and Kaipo – looking downriver over scrub to distant (felled) pineforest.

Created by: Madpom on 2014-10-03

Distance: 5.3 km (3.0 DOC hours) - Tramping track - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 634m to 701m. Gain: 96m. Loss: 51m . Gradient: 2 deg (Gentle)
Skills: - Streams (2/5)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

The stroll upstream from Oamaru Hut is easy, tussock flats alternating with bands of scrub – a well traveled, poled track. After 3km it reaches the bushedge, where a typical Kaweka 1.5m-wide highway through the bush starts. From the bushedge it’s a further 3km to the confluence with the Otorehinaiti Stream.

The Oamaru River track runs 100m away from the river at the confluence, so if you intend on heading up the Otorehinaiti then keep an eye on your map to pick out the spot you need to drop to the creek and cross.

Created by: Madpom on 2014-10-03

Distance: 4.9 km (3.0 DOC hours) - Unmarked route, clear - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 676m to 1179m. Gain: 503m. Loss: 14m . Gradient: 6 deg (Moderate)
Skills: - Streams (2/5)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

The Oamaru is knee deep at the confluence in normal conditions, and easily crossed.

There are good, well-used campsites at the Oamaru/Otore confluence. Ignore old permolat markers heading east at the confluence – they appear to sidle terraces on the south side of the Oamaru, heading downstream. The Otore valley is narrow at first, but soon opens up – good tramping up river flats and terraces, beech leaves and moss underfoot. The river is small and unlikely to pose problems in all but extreme conditions. Navigation is simple – following the main stream to where it swings due south towards the saddle. The gradient increases 1km from the saddle, and the flats disappear, but it is still good open beech forest, and easy walking, sidling the valleyside. 500m from the saddle, there is a final fork, not shown on the map. We climb the mossy slip between the two forks, heading due south towards the saddle, emerging onto a wide plateau of beech which rises gently to the saddle itself. There is some flagging tape here marking the way, but a bearing of due south would suffice.

The Otore clearing is open – a mixture of marsh and tussock. The small Otore Biv is tucked away on the south-west side.

Created by: Madpom on 2014-10-03
Last updated by: Madpom at 2015-07-05 21:24:15. Experienced: 2015-03-15

Distance: 1.5 km (1.0 DOC hours) - Unmarked route, clear - Moderate-hard terrain
Altitude: 1074m to 1168m. Gain: 0m. Loss: 94m . Gradient: 4 deg (Gentle)
Skills: - Streams (2/5)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

Heading south from Otore we sidle the valley on the west side of the creek. The bush has become scrubbier below the clearing and it is slow going. Several side-creeks, each in it’s own steep-sided gully, add additional challenges. Finally, sticking 150m-or-so from the creek, we emerge into the open tussock flats of the upper Harkness. The first 200m of the 'clearing' is thick with thigh-high scrub, and painful going. However, angling downriver and towards the creek, to where we can see good tussock, we soon reach good going. A creek joins from the east, and below it we pick up Warratahs and a narrow foot-worn track – the route from Mangatainoka Hut to Tussck Hut.

Created by: Madpom on 2014-10-05. Experienced: 2015-02-06
Last updated by: Madpom at 2016-01-16 01:18:49. Experienced: 2015-02-05

Distance: 1.3 km (0.5 DOC hours) - Marked route - Moderate terrain
Altitude: 1070m to 1094m. Gain: 28m. Loss: 26m . Gradient: 2 deg (Gentle)
Skills:
GPX info source: Drawn on map

From the point where it crosses the Harkness, the poled route climbs the western valley side and sidles close to the bushedge as it heads south. Swinging west it follows the bushedge 500m up the side valley to reach tussock hut. The route is not cut, but is reasonably well poled and a good ground trail exists.

Created by: Madpom on 2015-02-10. Experienced: 2015-02-07
Last updated by: Madpom at 2016-01-15 21:50:09. Experienced: 2015-02-07

Distance: 5.0 km (3.0 DOC hours) - Tramping track - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 944m to 1089m. Gain: 73m. Loss: 195m . Gradient: 3 deg (Gentle)
Skills: - Streams (2/5)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

The head of the Harkness at Tussock Hut lives up to the hut's name – a broad, gentle, V of a valley, clad in golden tussock. The track crosses the trickle of a stream and sidles the western face. The valley becomes slowly scrubbier as we head downstream – tussock becoming low scrub , later rising to waist height. The poled track changes from a foot-worn slot between tussocks to a full 1.5m-wide, cut Kaweka track. The gentle valleysides become steeper and rocky, and finally the track abandons efforts to sidle and drops to the Harkness River – now a couple of meters wide. Some 20 crossing follow – most of which can be hopped across with dry feet intact, but near the end there’s one which always catches me out. Fill your boots! The route should be navigable in all but extreme rain,

The track junction (on the western bank at the major forks) for the turnoff to Harkness Hut is signposted.

Created by: Madpom on 2014-10-05

Distance: 0.7 km (0.3 DOC hours) - Tramping track - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 943m to 980m. Gain: 42m. Loss: 5m . Gradient: 4 deg (Gentle)
Skills: - Streams (2/5)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

The track junction for the turnoff to Harkness Hut is signposted up the NE fork, and another broad Kaweka track heads up the north-east fork towards the hut, crossing the creek another 4 times. You can see the hut clearing on the northern slopes ahead, where tussock valley transitions back to beech. It’s a brief rocky scramble up the track to the hut, some 40m out of the valleyfloor.

Created by: Madpom on 2014-10-05

Distance: 3.8 km (2.5 DOC hours) - Tramping track - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 974m to 1483m. Gain: 560m. Loss: 122m . Gradient: 10 deg (Moderate)
Skills: Alpine weather (2/7) - Streams (2/5) Winter - Snow/ice underfoot (2/7)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

From Harkness we continue along the central Kaweka highway. To warm-up there’s an easy 800m section along the valley floor, but then the climb starts. The broad track climbs steadily up the meandering ridgeline, reaching exposed tops 1km before the hut. The tops route is poled and clear.

A junction with a well-trodden track, heading north from the summit, is not marked on maps or signposted. However, it appears to lead off along the tops towards Mangatainoka Hut.

Te Puke Hut nestles in a beech-covered basin at the head of a small sidecreek on the southern side of the ridgeline - 100m off the track. The junction is signposted.

Created by: Madpom on 2014-10-05

Distance: 7.0 km (3.5 DOC hours) - Tramping track - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 1285m to 1443m. Gain: 331m. Loss: 348m . Gradient: 6 deg (Moderate)
Skills: Alpine weather (2/7) Winter - Snow/ice underfoot (2/7)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

From Te Puke the track spends a lot of time on an exposed, bare ridgeline, dropping in between to long, flat saddles where stunted beech trees lap over the tops - at the limit of their range. In late summer, the whistles of sika serenade me from the faces below. There are no major climbs, but lots of short ups and downs over each peak. The tops sections are poled, and the bush sections well cut, so it is easy tramping, but exposed.

Finally, the narrow ridgeline broadens to wide, marshy tops – climbing, slowly drying as they rise, to reach the track junction on the flat summit.

Created by: Madpom on 2014-10-05

Distance: 0.5 km (0.3 DOC hours) - Tramping track - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 1362m to 1400m. Gain: 0m. Loss: 38m . Gradient: 4 deg (Gentle)
Skills: Alpine weather (2/7) Winter - Snow/ice underfoot (2/7)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

Mangaturutu Hut is 600m along the NW fork from the track junction – the track dropping 60m through a band of beech as it commences it's descent along another narrow ridge.

Created by: Madpom on 2014-10-05

Distance: 4.5 km (3.0 DOC hours) - Tramping track - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 609m to 1339m. Gain: 90m. Loss: 820m . Gradient: 12 deg (Moderate-hard)
Skills:
GPX info source: Drawn on map

From Mangaturutu hut, a short warming climb gains the narrow ridge for a steep descent (740m) to the Makino River. A 3-wire bridge (that would benefit from some stabilising cables) crosses to the TR and a very pleasant riverside track leads to the junction of the Makino hut track and Makino river route.

Created by: Madpom on 2015-02-09. Experienced: 2015-02-06
Last updated by: Bernieq at 2016-04-16 01:12:09. Experienced: 2016-04-09

Distance: 5.5 km (3.0 DOC hours) - Unmarked route, clear - Moderate-hard terrain
Altitude: 496m to 601m. Gain: 122m. Loss: 226m . Gradient: 4 deg (Flat)
Skills: - Prolonged rivers (4/5)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

From the track junction (a DOC sign indicating 2-3 hrs to Te Puia Hut), an obvious and well marked track heads down the true right of the river - travel is quick for the first few km. It doesn't last!

Much of the travel is in the river and much slower. Track markers (triangles) are inconsistent (don't confuse with tape marking traps) sometimes marking footpads on either bank, sometimes not.

After 4km, the river enters a gorge and so does the tramper - just walk straight through! Shortly after emerging, look for a triangle on the TL and pick up a track that follows the river for a short distance then turns away and climbs steeply to a narrow saddle then descends to the track to Mangatainoka hot springs. Turn right and walk the remaining 600m to Te Puia Lodge.

Created by: Bernieq on 2016-04-15. Experienced: 2016-04-09

Distance: 6.4 km (3.0 DOC hours) - Benched track - Easy terrain
Altitude: 459m to 540m. Gain: 203m. Loss: 204m . Gradient: 4 deg (Gentle)
Skills:
GPX info source: Drawn on map

From the Te Puia Lodge, the track follows beside the river for a short while before the first of 4 or 5 sustained climbs of 150 - 200m above the river, providing great views of the steep terrain. Zig-zags descend and climb before the final steep pinch to the carpark and a useful shelter.

Created by: Madpom on 2015-02-09. Experienced: 2015-02-05
Last updated by: Bernieq at 2016-04-16 01:04:30. Experienced: 2019-04-09

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