Length: from 7.0 up to 9.0 days
Distance: 102.9 km (77.5 DOC hours) - Unmarked route, hard - Hard terrain
Altitude: 200m to 1395m. Gain: 8397m. Loss: 9011m . Gradient: 10 deg (Moderate-hard)
Skills: Prolonged scrambles (4/7) - Occasional rivers (3/6) Winter - Snow/ice underfoot, avalanche risk (3/7)

Warning: this route segment has not been experienced by the author

From Lake Te Anau Control Gates to Luxmore Hut via Kepler Track
Distance: 12.3 km (5.5 DOC hours) - Benched track - Easy terrain
Altitude: 200m to 1048m. Gain: 908m. Loss: 68m . Gradient: 5 deg (Moderate)
Skills: Alpine weather (2/7) Winter - Snow/ice underfoot (2/7)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

Note: Described in the reverse direction to your journey

Moir's Guide Ed 7, pg 124, Control Gates to Iris Burn Hut via Mt Luxmore

Created by: Madpom on 2019-03-22

Warning: this route segment has not been experienced by the author

From Luxmore Hut to Iris Burn Hut via Mt Luxmore
Distance: 14.1 km (5.0 DOC hours) - Benched track - Easy terrain
Altitude: 458m to 1395m. Gain: 681m. Loss: 1266m . Gradient: 8 deg (Moderate)
Skills: Alpine weather (2/7) Winter - Snow/ice underfoot, avalanche risk (3/7)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

Note: Described in the reverse direction to your journey

Moir's Guide Ed 7, pg 124, Control Gates to Iris Burn Hut via Mt Luxmore

Created by: Madpom on 2019-03-22

From Iris Burn Hut to Delta Burn top flats via Delta Burn - Iris Burn
Distance: 13.4 km (7.0 DOC hours) - Unmarked route, clear - Moderate terrain
Altitude: 457m to 1267m. Gain: 383m. Loss: 841m . Gradient: 5 deg (Moderate)
Skills: Occasional scrambles (3/7) - Occasional rivers (3/6)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

From Iris Burn Hut take the track towards Luxmore Hut to the junction 100m from the hut signposted to the waterfall. At the waterfall, cross the pool at it's downstream end (can be waist deep and swift after moderate rain). A flagging-tape marked bait station line leads up the true right side of the waterfall but marking is intermittent - you have to follow deer trails between the bait stations.

Progress is generally on the true right. A viable camp spot for 1 exists on the upstream end of the 1st small clearing 2km above the falls - on the bushedge on the upstream side. Occasional crossings of the river make fore easier travel but travel on the true right is possible all the way to the valley head. The two large clearings shown on the map are boggy and slow. Spots for tramping increase above the north turn in the valley with good dry camping in the flats below the top forks below the waterfall.

The V notch to the upper valley is scrubby low down, so ascend through the beech on the true left and then pick up good deer trails through the remaining low scrub to reach the more open rock and tussock above. The climb is steep and loose in places and an ice-axe is a great aid.

The ascent comes out 20m above the head valley flats on the true left. Easy but wet flats lead to the saddle with some exposed but dry camping on low ridges on the valley floor.

The descent to the lake in the upper Delta Burn is steep. Access to the northern shore is blocked by bluffs. Zigzag down the face to the head of the lake, or sidle faces on the south side. The descent is steep with multiple bluffs or steep snowgrass faces to contend with. Pass the lake on the true left (south) on terraces 50m above the lake, descending towards the lake shore about half way along. Viable but wet-after-rain campspots exist on the east side of the barrier that holds back the lake.

Follow the creek down from the lake outlet - staring on the true left and crossing as required. Cross to the true left (south) before the descent to the forks where the creek becomes a waterfall/water chute. Stay 20m above the creek to the bushedge and then pick up deer trails through the scrubby beech forest descending steeply to the main valley below. More spongy camp spots exist against the bushedge at the base of the descent - the valleyfloor beyond is marshy.

Last updated by: Madpom at 2020-01-10 15:45:04. Experienced: 2020-01-06

From Delta Burn top flats to Delta Burn mouth via Delta Burn
Distance: 6.1 km (8.0 DOC hours) - Unmarked route, clear - Moderate terrain
Altitude: 204m to 918m. Gain: 6m. Loss: 717m . Gradient: 7 deg (Moderate)
Skills: Occasional scrambles (3/7) - Streams (2/6)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

If the river is up then travel is possible on the true right from the forks to river mouth. The only crossings are of the east branch of the Delta Burn below the falls, and of the two main sidestreams lower down - all were easily passable after persistent moderate rain (50mm overnight) but would become impassable in heavy rain.

Cross the flats and then ascend onto bush terraces on the true right above the gorge. Follow deer trails down the spur - obvious on the map. Do not cut right or left as both sides bluff out. From the base the route stays close (within 50m) of the river on the true right all the way to the delta - sometimes on flats, sometimes sidling low on the faces. River crossings become easier between 1.5km and 1km from the lakeshore - giving access to the spur leading to Gorge Burn. The final 1km is ferny with much windfall - travel is aided by dry riverbeds some distance from the main river - which is not the one shown on maps (2009 edition) but comes out about 300m west of the mouth shown. Good campspots exist on the shore at the narrowest point in the fiord.

Last updated by: Madpom at 2020-01-07 02:31:10. Experienced: 2020-07-06

From Delta Burn mouth to pt556 via terrace
Distance: 2.9 km (2.0 DOC hours) - Unmarked route, clear - Moderate terrain
Altitude: 203m to 534m. Gain: 331m. Loss: 30m . Gradient: 7 deg (Moderate)
Skills: - Occasional rivers (3/6)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

Cross the Delta Burn (if necessary) near its mouth where crossings are easiest. Knee deep in normal flows. Head SW and pick up the obvious spur climbing towards Mt Martin. An initial climb (not shown on maps) to terraces near the river is very steep but the main spur is ok. A second terrace exists at about 400m (not shown on the map) and is easy to mistake for the main terrace at 500m. Travel is slow to pt556 due to thick fern and windfall.

Last updated by: Madpom at 2020-01-07 02:38:02. Experienced: 2020-01-07

From Gorge river mouth to Lake Boomerang via Gorge Burn
Distance: 5.4 km (7.0 DOC hours) - Unmarked route, clear - Hard terrain
Altitude: 203m to 666m. Gain: 563m. Loss: 125m . Gradient: 7 deg (Moderate)
Skills: Occasional scrambles (3/7)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

Note: Described in the reverse direction to your journey

From the Lake Boomerang outflow continue down the true right of Gorge Burn. Vegetation is thick, boggy, bouldery and windfallen and progress is slow with few deer trails at first.

Grassy flats at the head of Lake Cecil provide opportunities to camp.

The shores of Lake Cecil are steep and/or boggy and it is advisable to climb onto the terrace south of the lake, descending to the mouth of the creek entering the lake from the south where a boggy crossing is required. The remaining shore can be sidled 10-20m above the lake.

Continue down the lower valley sidling the southern valleyside negotiating a series of debris dams as you progress downstream. As the river begins to gorge out 1.5km from the lake, deer trails begin to appear, sidling at about 440m onto the broad terrace leading to pt556. Follow this terrace, climbing slightly. Drop NE down the spur 100m prior to reaching pt556. This spur descends parallel to the river, passing the falls 50m or so to their south. There are reasonable deer trails. A cut walking track can be picked up from the falls to the lakeshore at the river mouth.

Lake Boomerang outflow to Lake Cecil head: 1.5km, 1-2 hrs
Lake Cecil head to Gorge River mouth: 4.5km, 3-5 hrs.

Created by: Madpom on 2019-03-21. Experienced: 2019-03-17

From Lake Boomerang to Fowler Pass via hanging valley
Distance: 2.6 km (3.0 DOC hours) - Unmarked route, hard - Moderate terrain
Altitude: 641m to 1088m. Gain: 506m. Loss: 130m . Gradient: 14 deg (Moderate-hard)
Skills: Prolonged scrambles (4/7) - Streams (2/6)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

An initially challenging route. From the outlet of Lake Boomerang, head up the clear slip to the south. As well as the creek draining the slip, a second creek runs down the west side of the slip draining a small hanging tarn shown on maps just west of the head of slip. The objective is to climb the spur immediately west of this creek.

Leave the slip where the creek joins it from the west. I crossed the creek immediately and climbed onto the spur west of it _below_ the first waterfall (which is at ~800m) and then nosed up the spur sticking close to the creek. The ascent to past the first waterfall involved two very steep challenging sections. It may be possible to continue up the open slip _past_ the first waterfall and then cross the creek above the fall and access the spur from there.

Once above the waterfall, continue up the spur, sticking within 100m of the creek, nosing through various bluffs on faint deer trails. At around 900m, make a steep sidle west, keeping below the last line of bluffs in the bush, to enter the hanging valley draining Fowler Pass (if you mistakenly climb past this last line of bluffs you leave tall bush and enter shorter scrub with views, of the peaks & open faces above but will not be able to descend into the hanging valley as the bluffs become impassable further along).

Once in the hanging valley, travel is simple up the valley floor. Very good campspots exist at the lower limits of the valley, becoming marshier as you head upstream. The final 100m climb to the pass is moderately steep but easy on rock and tussock.

The broad flat pass of Tuaraki Stream with the Freeman Burn is 100m below on the western side of the initial pass.

2-3 hrs

See also: Moir's p122 - Lake Boomerang to Fowler Pass

Last updated by: Madpom at 2020-01-18 20:21:57. Experienced: 2020-01-13

From Fowler Pass to Torre - Tuaraki forks via Tuaraki Str
Distance: 3.6 km (3.0 DOC hours) - Unmarked route, hard - Moderate terrain
Altitude: 418m to 1086m. Gain: 64m. Loss: 668m . Gradient: 12 deg (Moderate)
Skills: Prolonged scrambles (4/7)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

From the pass between Tauraki and Freeman Burn, access west to Tuarkaki Stream past the lake is blocked by a 20m long bluff. Unless you feel like a swim the following is required to pass the bluff:

Cross the pass to the western side below Mt Fowler
and cut left below the line of bluffs (towards the Freeman Burn) until the bluffs peter out. Then cut back right climbing onto the face above the bluffs. Continue west and upwards on this spur/terrace until you reach the base of the base of the main bluffs forming the peak above. By this point you should be directly above the lake outlet and maybe 60m up. A steep, narrow chute descends to the lake outlet from the _rear_ of the shelf you have been climbing. It is very steep at first an has some interesting down-climbs - improving as it descends onto open faces below.

From the tarn outlet, head briefly down Tuaraki Stream until you enter the head of the Tuaraki valley. The creek drops steeply away, but a scrubby face lies to the south, immediately below the bluffed face of Mt Fowler. Sidle this face just below bluffs until you are directly above the corner of beach forest below and then descend directly to the forest. Reasonable ground trails exist if you get it right. An easy descent through bush leads to the swampy clearing in the valley below.

Keeping to the true left, descend the clearing and pick up deer trails (the old track?) sidling SSW at about 820m through bush. Continue to sidle at this height (do not descend with the main creek) until you reach a steep, open rock/scree gut draining Ardneil Peak about half-way between the two streams shown on the map. Descend this steep gut initially on scree and later in bush on its true left once it becomes steep. The southern fork of Tuaraki Str is gorged near the forks and it is necessary to sidle about 50m south of the gut you have been descending to find access down to the southern branch of the creek. From here a straight forward but scrubby walk down deer trails on the true left leads 1km downstream to the forks with Torre Stream.

2-3 hrs

Last updated by: Madpom at 2020-03-16 21:21:40. Experienced: 2020-01-14

Distance: 4.6 km (5.0 DOC hours) - Unmarked route, clear - Moderate terrain
Altitude: 374m to 842m. Gain: 482m. Loss: 480m . Gradient: 12 deg (Moderate)
Skills: - Streams (2/6)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

A straight-forward crossing from the Torre/Tuaraki confluence to below Lake Norma in Elaine Stream.

Head up the south branch of Tuaraki Stream from te Torre / Tuaraki forks - travel seems best of the true left. At about 520m a small side-creek enters from the west draining the pass marked 832. Climb the initially vague spur on the south side of this creek (the north side has many steep side-guts that are very hard to cross). Once level with the pass, sidle west off the spur (keep below the bushedge as faces above are very scrubby) and into the saddle. Small clearings exist on the saddle with good dry campspots.

Good deer trail lead down the creek SW from the saddle until going becomes steep where the trails cut out to the true right, later crossing back to the true left at around 700m once the bluffs on the true left are past. Meander down gentle slopes on the true left of the creek aiming for the gentle faces through the next line of bluffs (at 500m) shown on the map 200m south of the stream. Deer trails come and go but are there when you need them in steeper sections.

Once below the steep faces on the flat valley floor it is possible to head due south towards the outlet of Lake Norma. Clearings with dry camping exist just south of the base of this descent.

Once you hit the creek, remain on the true right and follow deer trails upstream through slow boulder-moraine to the lake outlet.
4-6 hrs

Last updated by: Madpom at 2020-01-18 20:53:15. Experienced: 2020-01-14

From Lake Norma, Elaine Stream to Lake Annie head via Anehu Pass and Elaine Stream
Distance: 9.9 km (10.0 DOC hours) - Unmarked route, clear - Moderate terrain
Altitude: 419m to 1344m. Gain: 994m. Loss: 437m . Gradient: 8 deg (Moderate-hard)
Skills: Prolonged scrambles (4/7) - Occasional rivers (3/6)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

Lake Norma is passed on the eastern shore - initially a low sidle in the bush and later on beaches / flats near the lake. There is marginal camping at the delta halfway up the lake - the only viable camping spotted in this section.

Once past lake Norma, follow good deer trails up the valley cutting gently right back towards the river and avoiding climbing the slopes above. Moderate going on the true right on now-easier moraine leads to the outlet of the next unnamed lake. The lake can be crossed at its outlet as it is 'normally' passed on the western shore (I saw no reason the eastern shore is not viable, but Moirs recommends west).

Clearings at the lake-head extend some distance upstream and have good dry grass terraces on gravel banks in places for good-looking camping.

Continue up Elaine Stream sticking near the creek where good clearings and occasional river-bed gravels provide easy travel. From the forks of Anehu Stream it is easier to continue briefly up the western branch in clearings and then cut across the band of bush towards the base of the waterfall in Anehu.

Keeping on the true left of Anehu Stream, close to the stream until you pick up a narrow steep spur climbing due south up the face starting immediately west of the waterfall. Good deer trails shoukd point the way. Ascend this steep spur for 100m (the spur becomes a gully later as it climbs - just stick to the deer trails). Once above 600m and above the bluffs, sidle your way east into the hanging valley of Anehu Stream. This sidle is steep and scrubby and deer trails were of little assistance.

Follow the gentle valley of Anehu Stream upriver on the south side to the forks in Anehu Stream. Follow deer trails up the spur immediately west of the southern fork ast initial steep waterfalls/water chutes. Look out for a good spot to cross the southern branch onto the spur between the two creeks. In low water there were many such spots, but in high flows this could be tricky as most crossings have very poor runouts.

Climb the spur between the two creeks until you reach gentle slopes at around 760m. Deer trails sidle north from here to rejoin the north branch of Anehu Stream as it enters the next series of open marshy flats. Good campspots are scattered through these flats where old gravel banks near the creek provide dry locations.

At the head of the marshy clearings the valley swings back east. Follow the creek upstream and pick up good deer trails on the southern bank which lead up the very steep scrubby face south of the first waterfall. Once above the first falls and into tussock it is easy to cross to the northern bank and climb the obvious route up gentle faces to reach the first lake in the valley above.

Cross the lake outlet and head south up either the western ridgeline or the valley floor until you reach the largest lake at the head of the valley. Cross the lake outlet and climb to the western of the two passes (west of pt1416) - a moderate but safe climb.

A very steep gut leads from the western pass down into the head of Awe Burn. This still held snow/ice in mid January and crampons would have been a good idea. As with al fiordland travel - an ice-axe was essential.

Descend the steep gut into the flat head of the Awe Burn and follow it down to the head of the lake. Marginal camping exists at the lake head, but better spots are available at the lake outlet.

7-10 hrs

See also : Moir's Guide South. Ed 7 Pg 134. Lake Annie to Camelot River via Anehu Pass and Elaine Stream

Last updated by: Madpom at 2020-01-18 21:18:49. Experienced: 2020-01-14

From Lake Annie head to Awe Burn forks via Awe Burn
Distance: 6.8 km (5.0 DOC hours) - Unmarked route, hard - Moderate terrain
Altitude: 427m to 1019m. Gain: 879m. Loss: 1419m . Gradient: 20 deg (Moderate-hard)
Skills: Prolonged scrambles (4/7) - Occasional rivers (3/6)
GPX info source: Uploaded from GPS

The western shore of Lake Annie is traverseable. Moderate slopes at the northern end of the lake are scrubby but safe going as far as the point the lake swings west. A bluff drops directly to the lake. Deer trails ascend a scree face just before the bluff and then sidle down-valley above bluffs. At each new bluff it is necessary to climb slightly, sticking to the clearest deer trail. The route ends on the moraine dam at the base of the large bluffs at the outlet end of the lake.

Descent from the lake is slow, tricky and very easily leads into dangerous territory if you get it wrong. Follow the moraine dam down to the lake outlet. The main creek cannot be descended. However, a steep gut starts beside the creek, 20m below the lake outlet, and cuts right (west) across the face descending steeply and moving away from the creek. Access to the top of this gut is not obvious and takes some poking around to drop directly into its head (both sides are bluffed and so if you miss the top you'll not be able to descend to it lower down).

Follow the gut steeply down until it rejoins the main river below the series of the waterfalls in the wooded valley below at around 820m- just upriver of a clear scrubby knoll. Follow the river down briefly and pick up deer trails climbing onto the open/scrubby knoll on the true right. Cut right (north) from the knoll into the head of an open rock/scree streambed which can be followed down past the next lot of falls in the main creek. Where the gut becomes impassable, cut left and descend the spur between the dry gut and the main stream.

The main valley can now be followed down in either the stony riverbed or the scrubby banks to the forks and then a further 200m to 'peppertree clearings'. These clearings are not particularly clear and though they do provide occasional campspots above the river banks they are barely passable and the riverbed provides faster travel.

From the end of clearings, travel downstream is on the true right. Deer trails lead through as sequence of beech and scrubby faces, remaining within 20 vertical meters of the river. After 2km a massive avalanche chute joins from the right. Deer trails exit into the chute about 20m above the main river. From here down travel is in the riverbed and a couple of crossings are required to reach to forks.

Good safe campspots exist in beech on the edge of terrace downstrem of the forks on the southern bank, overlooking the river.

4-6 hrs

See also: Route from Moir's Guide South. Ed 7. Pg 134. North Branch Awe Burn to Lake Annie

Last updated by: Madpom at 2020-02-01 20:38:44. Experienced: 2020-01-15

From Awe Burn forks to Oonah Saddle via spur
Distance: 3.7 km (3.0 DOC hours) - Unmarked route, clear - Moderate terrain
Altitude: 412m to 1131m. Gain: 1044m. Loss: 357m . Gradient: 23 deg (Moderate-hard)
Skills: Occasional scrambles (3/7)
GPX info source: Uploaded from GPS

A spur descends north from Oonah Saddle towards to forks in the Awe Burn on the east of a steep-sided gut. At around 700m the spur splits with the main spur continuing north turning to bluffs and a gentler side-spur dropping NE to hit the Awe Burn 500m downstream of the forks. This is the route between the Awe Burn and the Oohnah Saddle.

From the forks in the Awe Burn head 500m downstream on good flats on the true right, angling to hit the base of the NE-SW spur. Pick up good deer trails as you ascend the spur. There are occasional steep sections but good deer trials indicate a good trampable route. At around 700m this side-spur joins the main spur and swings south. Travel continues easy to 800m where good beech forest begins to turn scrubby and deer trails become sparse and the first of a series of bluffs is met. All the bluffs have good routes through them if you node around. Finally at 900m we hit the first of a series of clearings which can be strung together until you hit open tussock at 1000m. Continue south towards the low 1144m saddle with the Oonah Burn - this feels like you are sidling the face at some points.

Small tarns dot the saddle with many dry, sheltered spots for a tent.

2-3 hrs
See also: route from Moir's Guide. Ed 7. Pg 132. Oonah Saddle to Awe Burn

Last updated by: Madpom at 2020-01-18 23:07:37. Experienced: 2020-01-16

From Oonah Saddle to Mica Burn Saddle via Mt George flanks
Distance: 10.3 km (8.0 DOC hours) - Unmarked route, clear - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 736m to 1383m. Gain: 1516m. Loss: 1688m . Gradient: 19 deg (Moderate-hard)
Skills: Occasional scrambles (3/7) - Streams (2/6)
GPX info source: Uploaded from GPS

A good high route joins Oonah Saddle with the Micaburn Saddle via the eastern flanks of Mt George.

From the Oonah Saddle a straight forward route takes you down the stream into the valley below and then down the flanks/spur on the true left to reach the lake at its north-east corner.

Cross the head of the lake where there are marginal campspots to the base of the creek draining saddle 1052 to the west. A strong deer trail climbs the face south of the creek (on its true right) leading through steep wooded faces to the tussock valley above. From the bushedge an easy ascent leads to tarns and views to the west coast from saddle 1052.

The climb to pt1400 starts steep and you need to plan your route carefully between bluff systems. However, things become gentler/easier after about 100m. Cross pt1400 and follow the ridge over pt1370 (or skirt it to the west) and then descend to the saddle between the two lakes.

Moir's route descends SE from the saddle to the long thin lake. The initial 20m of descent is very steep (sketchy) and not much fun. The lake is best passed on its northern shore to its mouth where the remains of a hut can be found. From the lake mouth make a gentle sidling climb south picking out good terraces on the eastern flanks of Mt George. I crossed the main stream on the face at 1200m and joined the SE ridgeline at 1300m - Moir's inidicates a slightly lower route

(It also looks straight forward (and safer) to continue south from the saddle between the two lakes and pick up the broad terrace at 1300m-1340m on the eastern face of Mt George. This avoids the steep descent to the lake and looks a much more straight forward sidle. I suspect that the Moir's route is historic from the time that the hut at the lake was in existence)

Travel down the SE ridge of Mt George to the Micaburn saddle is straight forward so long as you have visibility to avoid getting bluffed.

There are good sheltered dry campspots around tarns at the saddle

5-8 hrs

See also route from Moir's Guide South: Ed 7. Pg 132. Mica Burn Saddle to Oonah Saddle

Last updated by: Madpom at 2021-03-06 19:52:26. Experienced: 2020-01-17

Distance: 7.2 km (6.0 DOC hours) - Unmarked route, clear - Moderate-hard terrain
Altitude: 205m to 950m. Gain: 40m. Loss: 785m . Gradient: 7 deg (Moderate)
Skills: - Occasional rivers (3/6)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

Travel down the Mica Burn is straight forward though slow and rough in places

The creek training the saddle can be descended with ease on the true left (east). Initially the valley floor is scrubby but the stream bed opens u and provides travel for the first 500m or so past scrubby flats where the is allegedly good camping.

Once below the flats pick up deer trails on the true right, initially passing though bands of beech forest and thick scrub before good forest comes to dominate. Travel contnues on the true right all the way to the beginning of flats 1km above Disaster Burn. Deer trails are generally strong and good and sidle gorged sections about 20m above the river, dropping closer to the riverbanks on the flats.

Once on flats 1km above Disaster Burn the riverbed becomes open and rocky and provides the best travel down to Disaster Burn if water is low with multiple crossings.

Below Disaster Burn return to the true right and looks for deer trails downriver, sidling 0-20m above the river. It is necessary (or recommended at least) to cross where bluffs on the the eastern valleyside end and the valley opens to gentle slopes on the eastern side (the western side becomes steeply bluffed and the river drops into a slot gorge below this). Once on the eastern bank travel becomes very slow. The deer trials have crossed to this bank and can just-about be followed but the whole face was littered with major windfall when I visited and there was a lot of scrambling over trees and looking for trails again afterwards. Allow an hour from the gorge exit to the Micaburn road bridge.

West Arm Hut is 1.5km east along the road and is signposted.

4-6 hrs
See also route from Moir's Guide South. Ed 7. Pg 132. Mica Burn

Last updated by: Madpom at 2020-01-18 23:41:02. Experienced: 2020-01-18

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