Length: from 7.0 up to 14.0 days
Distance: 103.1 km (68.0 DOC hours) - Raft, kayak or float - Hard terrain
Altitude: -56m to 1045m. Gain: 7260m. Loss: 7332m . Gradient: 8 deg (Steep)
Skills: Occasional scrambles (3/7) - Raft, kayak or swim/float (6/6)

My route from West Arm to West Cape.

7 days of hard, remote travel. The route requires a packraft, though other land routes are possible. Requires good weather from crossing Dusky Sound - 14km on the raft. I allowed 12 days for delays / weather / etc.

I exited West Cape by helicopter - and had a 3 day wait for weather over the ranges to allow heli access.


From West Arm Hut to Upper Spey Hut via Dusky Track
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Distance: 11.8 km (6.0 DOC hours) - Tramping track - Moderate terrain
Altitude: 191m to 450m. Gain: 349m. Loss: 91m . Gradient: 2 deg (Gentle)
Skills:
GPX info source: Drawn on map

The section of the Dusky from West Arm to Upper Spey is the easiest and fastest section of the track - though with a few sections prone to be boggy at times.

Follow the Wilmot Pass Road 3km west from the Wharf, passing West Arm hut after 1km, to where the Dusky Track start is marked by a signpost.

A fairly standard backcountry tramping track runs up the north side of the Spey, generally on river flats with occasional low brief sidles. Maybe 8-10 brief sections are boggy - knee deep when I visited - and others prone to flooding after rain. All major sidecreeks are bridged. The track was well marked and vegetation cut back to a broad width of 1.5-2m when I visited (Dec 2020).

The last 500m to Upper Spey Hut is boardwalked - the fastest 500m on the entire Dusky!

4-6 hours

See also: Moir's Ed 7 Pg 139, West Arm to Upper Spey

Last updated by: Madpom at 2021-01-16 16:10:38. Experienced: 2020-12-26

From Upper Spey Hut to Kintail Hut via Dusky Track
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Distance: 6.4 km (6.0 DOC hours) - Tramping track - Moderate terrain
Altitude: 269m to 1045m. Gain: 634m. Loss: 802m . Gradient: 13 deg (Moderate-hard)
Skills: Occasional scrambles (3/7) - Streams (2/6)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

The track between Upper Spey and Kintail Huts was well marked and cut in Dec 2020.

Brief boardwalks lead west through marshland before the track swings south up the western face of Warren Burn. Initial climbing is steep but becomes gentler as the hanging valley is reached after 200m of climbing.

The track is well marked and cut through first bush then a mix of clearings and scrub to the start of tussock at 800m. A technically simple ascent loops up the southern valleyside, swinging across gentle slopes above bluffs to Centre Pass.

The track crosses a series of basins at around 900m to reach the major spur south of the creek draining Centre Pass - all easy going on a well poled track.

The descent into the Kintail Stream is very steep - a scramble in places. The track is well cut and marked - just take it slowly and carefully.

After crossing the creek draining Centre Pass on a walkwire, 1km of steep sidle follows. This is slow going and prone to windfall - so allow time. On reaching flats the track swings north up the Seaforth for half-a-kilometer to reach a walkwire crossing the river. Kintail Hut is signposted, 5 minutes off the main track up the west side of the Seaforth.

3.5-6 hours

See also: Moir's Guide Ed7 pg 139: Upper Spey to Kintail Hut

Last updated by: Madpom at 2021-01-16 16:05:34. Experienced: 2020-12-26

From Kintail Hut to Loch Maree Hut via Dusky Track
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Distance: 9.8 km (7.0 DOC hours) - Marked route - Moderate terrain
Altitude: 52m to 297m. Gain: 249m. Loss: 451m . Gradient: 4 deg (Moderate)
Skills: Occasional scrambles (3/7) - Streams (2/6)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

The track between Kintail Hut and Loch Maree Hut was poorly marked and maintained in 2020.

From Kintail Hut the marked route follows the riverbank, passing Gair Loch by sidling low on the face. The ground here is a series of clearings and open scrub alternating with open bush. Track marking is infrequent and it is hard to relocate the track after each clearing.

A steep sidling descent follows from the upper valley to the forks with Kenneth Burn. Care is needed in places where the sidle is steep and exposed, and again the track is poorly cut & marked (2020).

Kenneth Burn is crossed on a walkwire, below which the gradient is flat with the route meandering down the western bank of the river. Marking is poor and the track no more obvious than the various deer trails that traverse the valley floor. Clearings present problems picking up the track as it renters the bush and for those with good routefinding it is faster to ignore the track and follow your nose in places.

Parties report rafting the Seaforth from approx pt134 to Loch Maree Hut - but the river was very low when I visited and frequent trees blocking the entire width would require frequent brief portages. Given this it seems unlikely that rafting would be any faster than walking.

4-7 hrs

See also Moir's Guide Ed 7, pg 140: Kintail to Loch Maree Hut

Last updated by: Madpom at 2021-01-16 15:56:47. Experienced: 2020-12-27

From Loch Maree Hut to Supper Cove Hut via Dusky Track
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Distance: 12.2 km (8.0 DOC hours) - Tramping track - Moderate terrain
Altitude: 4m to 131m. Gain: 216m. Loss: 300m . Gradient: 2 deg (Moderate)
Skills: - Streams (2/6)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

A good cut/marked track runs down the north-west side of Loch Maree from Loch Maree hut, climbing 100m above the lake (note that there is no easy access up/down to the lake at the western end). Beyond the lake, the track sidles, crossing a sidecreek on a walkwire before descending to river flats after a further kilometer.

In normal river flows rafting the river is possible from the point the track hits the river below the Loch Maree falls to Supper Cove Hut. There are two brief boulder-rapids probably requiring portage. Both have good take-out points on the true right immediately above the rapid. Other rapids are grade 1.

From where the track hits the river, the next several kilometers of track is excellent along river flats - wide and flat and easy walking. Trampers report that the last 2-3km to Supper Cove Hut is very slow going with frequent boggy sections and climbs/descents on the valleyside.

Rafting from below the falls it is possible to travel Loch Maree Hut - Supper Cove Hut in 3-4.5hrs
Tramping this is a 4 - 8hr walk.

Also see Moir's Guide Ed7 Pg 140: Loch Maree to Supper Cove

Last updated by: Madpom at 2021-01-16 15:46:55. Experienced: 2020-12-27

From Supper Cove Hut to Fanny Bay via Cook Channel
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Distance: 13.7 km (4.0 DOC hours) - Raft, kayak or float
Altitude: 0m to 18m. Gain: 12m. Loss: 18m . Gradient: 0 deg
Skills: - Raft, kayak or swim/float (6/6)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

Kayak / packraft. Took 3 hours in perfect conditions in the packraft. Would be more challenging in a south-westerly.

Last updated by: Madpom at 2021-01-03 23:47:59. Experienced: 2020-12-28

From Fanny Bay to Oho Saddle (pt869) via spur
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Distance: 4.1 km (5.0 DOC hours) - Unmarked route, hard - Moderate terrain
Altitude: 14m to 865m. Gain: 1216m. Loss: 388m . Gradient: 23 deg (Moderate-hard)
Skills: Alpine weather (2/7) - Streams (2/6)
GPX info source: Uploaded from GPS

Access the southern shore of Fanny Bay due west of pt149, where the stream draining the Oho Saddle is visible entering the sound via a small waterfall. There is a pebble beach here at all but high tide.

The valley floor can be followed to the 160m contour where the stream becomes steep and a 'dry' valley is shown entering from the SE on the topomap. Follow this dry valley SE (which is not dry) up to the spur to the east of the main stream. Maps show the spur as scrubby but it was mostly good bush.

Follow the spur up, passing a number of small bands of bluffs (2-3m high each) which require some nosing around to find a route through. Good routes exist through each.

Eventually the gradient lessens as you reach the 'flat' tops at around 700m. On reaching the tops I took a bearing of 250 degrees, crossing the flat tops and dropping through a couple of gullies not shown on the map before reaching the spur immediately SE of the creek draining the Oho Saddle. I followed this spur WSW to the saddle where there are a number of small tarns.

Finding suitable dry flat ground for camping was challenging. I eventually found a dry spot at the southern end of the large tarn shown on the map 200m NW of pt869. The basin is exposed to the NE but sheltered to winds in other directions.

3-5 hrs

Last updated by: Madpom at 2021-01-16 16:38:23. Experienced: 2020-12-28

Distance: 4.7 km (5.0 DOC hours) - Unmarked route, clear - Moderate terrain
Altitude: 68m to 924m. Gain: 564m. Loss: 1307m . Gradient: 24 deg (Steep)
Skills: Occasional scrambles (3/7) - Occasional rivers (3/6)
GPX info source: Uploaded from GPS

From the Oho / Fanny Bay saddle (pt869), climb 60m onto the spur west of the saddle between Oho Creek and Fanny Bay, where two small tarns are shown on the topomap. Drop slightly onto the obvious terrace/shelf above Oho Creek and sidle a further 500m west at around 900m to the head of the obvious spur dropping into the forks at the head of Oho Creek.

Follow the spur down to the forks in Oho Creek. There are excellent deer trails. Two sections are tricky. The first is the steep section at 550m indicated on the maps. This can be descended on the spur with care (though deer trails cut east and return later so that may be an easier option).

The second tricky bit is the very bottom tip of the spur. There is a 5m sheer bluff about 10m up from the base of the spur. This can (just) be descended by downclimbing trees. Descending instead to the west branch of Oho Creek is not an option to avoid this bluff as it is in a deep sheer gorge at this point and has an impassable waterfall 50m upstream. The east branch must provide a gentler option between the spur and valley floor (the deer manage it somehow!) but I did not spot where this is.

100m of slippery rocky gorge travel down Oho Creek is necessary from the forks before the valley opens out. Below here there are good deer trails on the banks, and frequent flat dry clearings and alternative dry riverbeds and travel is easy. There are several good camping options. It is about 2km from the spur to the lake head.

2.5-4 hrs down, more in reverse

Last updated by: Madpom at 2021-01-16 16:35:34. Experienced: 2020-12-29

From Lake Purser to Lake Purser outlet via Lake (packraft route)
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Distance: 1.8 km (0.5 DOC hours) - Raft, kayak or float
Altitude: 94m to 95m. Gain: 1m. Loss: 0m . Gradient: 0 deg
Skills:
GPX info source: Drawn on map

Easy paddle down the lake.

Either shore could be walked - west would need sidling ~100m above the lake all the way. East has beaches ~50% of the way, but requires a climb & descent round bluffs half way and is steeper.

Last updated by: Madpom at 2021-01-04 14:05:54. Experienced: 2020-12-29

From Lake Purser outlet to Lake Carrick via true left
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Distance: 1.2 km (0.5 DOC hours) - Unmarked route, clear - Moderate terrain
Altitude: 10m to 154m. Gain: 162m. Loss: 290m . Gradient: 22 deg (Flat)
Skills:
GPX info source: Uploaded from GPS

A network of deer trails connect Lakes Purser and Carrick with good travel on the east of the creek, keeping away from the river itself.

Created by: Madpom on 2021-01-04. Experienced: 2020-12-29

From Lake Carrick to Lake Cadman outlet via Lake (packraft route)
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Distance: 7.0 km (2.0 DOC hours) - Raft, kayak or float
Altitude: 16m to 19m. Gain: 3m. Loss: 3m . Gradient: 0 deg
Skills: - Raft, kayak or swim/float (6/6)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

Easy paddle down lakes Carrick and Cadman. The two lakes are connected via a narrow flat channel with no rapids (or any noticeable flow) that can be paddled in either direction.

Outflow of Lake Cadman has waterfalls. Good put-in on rocky beach 200m WSW of the outlet giving access to low, scrubby saddle leading down to Edwardson Sound.

Last updated by: Madpom at 2021-01-16 16:32:19. Experienced: 2020-12-29

From Lake Cadman outlet to Lake Cove via route
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Distance: 0.4 km (0.5 DOC hours) - Unmarked route, clear - Hard terrain
Altitude: 9m to 21m. Gain: 0m. Loss: 12m . Gradient: 2 deg (Moderate)
Skills:
GPX info source: Uploaded from GPS

A scrubby bush-bash is required between Lake Cadman and Lake Cove. The terrain is complex with multiple old lake outflow channels running east-west to cross.

Launch sites on the Lake Cove shore were none-existent - they may exist back up the river towards Cora Lynn Falls but otherwise this is a steep scrubby shore where access to the water is easy enough but space to prepare & launch a raft is tricky to find. At least 1 party has swum Lake Cove at the narrowest point.

Last updated by: Madpom at 2021-01-16 16:31:26. Experienced: 2020-12-29

From Lake Cove to Edwardson Sound west shore via Edwardson Sound (packraft route)
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Distance: 1.9 km (0.5 DOC hours) - Raft, kayak or float
Altitude: 0m to 9m. Gain: 0m. Loss: 9m . Gradient: 0 deg
Skills: - Raft, kayak or swim/float (6/6)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

Packraft route across sound.

Parties on foot report swimming / packfloating the narrowest point.

Access to water difficult on sound below Lake Cadman - steep scrubby shoreline with no obvious beaches.

Good put-in on gravel beaches south of the outlet of the creek draining the pass north of Mt Inaccessible. Good camping spots behind beach - e.g. 50m south of river but watch to keep out of flood channels of the creek.

Last updated by: Madpom at 2021-01-16 16:17:08. Experienced: 2020-12-29

Distance: 11.8 km (12.0 DOC hours) - Unmarked route, clear - Hard terrain
Altitude: -35m to 971m. Gain: 2164m. Loss: 1405m . Gradient: 18 deg (Moderate)
Skills: Alpine weather (2/7)
GPX info source: Uploaded from GPS

The easiest route towards Lake Fraser from Lake Cove appears to be along the gentle open tops north-west of Lake Macarthur. Accessing the tops is the hard bit.

Head up the south bank of the east-flowing creek north of Mt Inaccessible. After 700m pick up the spur climbing south-west where the valleysides start to become steep. Follow this spur up on good deer trails to ~270m to just where the climb becomes very steep. Sidle west at this height, on fainter deer trails leading to a good platform across the first of several slipped-out guts. Continue sidling through a second large gut at this height and climb onto the spur beyond. From here either continue up the spur or drop into the third smaller gut and follow deer trails up it to the terraces above at ~310m.

The flat section of valley is harder going. Vegetation is either scrubby or a jumble of windfall and boulders - and very slow travel for the first 1km. Possible campspots exist at the first forks, above which travel on the river bank and dry channels provide easier movement for a while. As the valley steepens, deer trails sidle in open forest on the north side 20-30m above the creek until the scrub layer is reached at about 500m. A painful crawl / scrubbash follows to the small tarn - I crossed to the south side of the creek and picked up clearings south of the tarn.

The clearing shown on maps west of the tarn is misleading. There are just 2 small clearings one near the tarn and one on the terrace below the climb to pt776. In between is a slow painful scrub-bash through leatherleaf and other alpine scrub. From the 2nd clearing, climb the steep face to the saddle north of pt 776 where you eventually hit clear tops.

I traveled this route in mist so had limited opportunities to spy out a good route. Uncertain of routes along the western flank of Mt Inaccessible I dropped SW from pt776 through the next creek in good bush with a short scrub-bash required to regain the tops leading to pt772 beyond. Looking back, a sidle of the face of Mt Inaccessible would be possible at ~850m where there is a reasonable clear shelf. You would need good visibility for that option as there are multiple bluffs and bands of scrub to avoid.

From to pt772 tops, I dropped south to the low open saddle with The Stopper (tarns and good campspots) and climbed easy gentle slopes to the main ridgeline at the saddle west of The Stopper at ~900m.

Easy travel followed on the open ridgeline west then SSW passing pt970, pt928 and pt873. This is a good easy tramp, not the narrow ridgeline the map indicates. Continuing 1km SSW off pt873 leads to a shoulder where the open tops swing west and drop towards pt399. The shoulder at ~700m has small tarns and dry campspots with a bit of scrubby shelter though otherwise exposed to the SW. Excellent views all the way south to Puysegur Point and west to West Cape.

8-12 hrs

Last updated by: Madpom at 2021-01-16 16:30:31. Experienced: 2020-12-30

From Kakapo Range - west end to Lake Fraser via saddles & terraces
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Distance: 6.3 km (6.0 DOC hours) - Unmarked route, clear - Moderate-hard terrain
Altitude: 31m to 692m. Gain: 683m. Loss: 1338m . Gradient: 19 deg (Moderate-hard)
Skills: - Occasional rivers (3/6)
GPX info source: Uploaded from GPS

From the south end of the Kakapo Range (1km SSW of pt873), descend the clear spur indicated on maps dropping due west. There is a scrubby section before the bushedge is reached but it is navigable down to the valley floor sticking between the two creeks shown on the map.

Cross the valley floor (streams are small in normal flows and can be hopped) and climb into the low valley north of pt475. The ascent is in tall manuka scrub, and slow - though deer trails help if you can find them. A few small clearings on the saddle provide the opportunity for camping if you're desperate.

Follow the valley west past pt475 in relatively open bush on good deer trails, swinging WSW with the valley. At about 280m the creek starts to drop more steeply. Sidle west to the base of northern valleyside and then contour out of the valley into the main valley at about 250m where you will pick up a series of terraces in open bush with reasonable travel. Deer trails are good and helpful. Follow terraces NW staying above the river gorge until you hit the point where the main ridgeline above you descends towards Lake Fraser. Follow the ridgeline down, dropping steeply north just before you hit the river gorge.

The river can be crossed at the bend 250m north of the base of the spur, easily in normal flows (knee deep) but will be impassable after rain. Good dry camping is possible on the river banks on the east side.

After crossing, aim west over the valley flats through tall bush and some windfall, past pt41 to the head of Lake Fraser where more grassy camping is possible on the lakeshore (will flood in heavy rain).

4-6 hrs

Last updated by: Madpom at 2021-01-16 16:24:38. Experienced: 2020-12-31

From Lake Fraser to Lake Fraser outlet via Lake (packraft route)
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Distance: 2.3 km (1.0 DOC hours) - Raft, kayak or float
Skills: - Raft, kayak or swim/float (6/6)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

Easy paddle over Lake Fraser.

South shore an option to walk though would mean climbing over pt212 as lakeshore is bluffed.

Created by: Madpom on 2021-01-04. Experienced: 2020-12-31

From Lake Fraser outlet to West Cape via Newton River valley
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Distance: 7.9 km (4.0 DOC hours) - Unmarked route, clear - Moderate-hard terrain
Altitude: -56m to 191m. Gain: 1007m. Loss: 918m . Gradient: 14 deg (Gentle)
Skills: - Occasional rivers (3/6)
GPX info source: Uploaded from GPS

From Lake Fraser, angle WSW across marshy, scrubby, windfallen flats and into the valley south of pt166 where travel improves. Angle to the south side of the valley and climb onto the low ridgeline to its south over a series of unnumbered highpoints. There are excellent deer trails and good travel.

Follow the ridgeline as it descends SW to hit the Newton River where it exits its gorge 2km from the sea.

I rafted the river down to the sea from here, but travel down the south bank would be possible until gravel rapids are reached after about 1km where crossing is possible (it is also possible to cross at the high tide point in the estuary).

There are opportunities for safe dry sandfly-rich camping on either bank near the point the river becomes tidal - though some fern clearance may be required.

To reach West Cape at low tide (+/- 3 hrs), follow the beach down the northern river bank into the small bay 500m from the cape where the shoreline bluffs out. A scrubby scramble on deer trails takes you up onto the plateau to the north of the estuary.

The flat lands north of the estuary are a series on rocky hummocks and valleys, all covered in 2-4m high scrub. There is no clear ground as shown on the maps. Angle NW to the cape, weaving through the valleys and avoiding the scrubby summits.

There are a couple of small freshwater pools at the cape, and camping would be easy enough back in the tall scrub.

3-4hrs Lake to Cape

Heli-landing at the cape itself would be difficult, though the next point 200m north looks to have enough clear ground to put down. However, back in the Newton River estuary the gravel bar is flat and accessible 1.5 hrs either side of low tide, and the gravel beaches on the northern bank can take a helicopter at all but high tide +/- 1 hr. Boats do pull into the estuary on occasion, so a boat pickup/dropoff would be possible with a dinghy or packraft to take you to shore.

Last updated by: Madpom at 2021-01-16 16:20:34. Experienced: 2021-01-01


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