Above Mangatoetoe Hut it’s back to river travel – through increasingly mature podocarp bush – the kanuka left behind with the flats. A randomly located sequence of triangles have been nailed to trees on both banks, but they do not give any useful information about which side of the river to travel on, and merely confuse the tramper looking out for the start of the track. In the end, it’s a case of follow the riverbed, because any travel on the banks will be short and frustrating.
When you get there, the climb out of the river is obvious. A well marked, cut track heads up the obvious spur at the river fork - as shown on the map - climbing quickly to the saddle. Beyond the saddle there’s some serious sidling of steep, crumbling valleyside, before dropping to the Otakaha Stream for more wet feet and river travel.
Walking down the riverbed, the valley is tight and winding, the sides near vertical, reminiscent of the mud-stone gorges of the Uraweras. For much of the way, the only flat land is that occupied by water. The stream passes two tributaries on the right, which seem far too big to be those shown on the map, but are. About 400m before the hut the valley suddenly opens to grassy / scrubby flats. A gravel 4wd track appears on the true right and leads to the hut, just upriver of the major fork in the Otakaha.