Length: from 5.0 up to 8.0 days
Distance: 98.0 km (57.0 DOC hours) - Unmarked route, clear - Moderate terrain
Altitude: 250m to 1358m. Gain: 2797m. Loss: 3206m . Gradient: 4 deg (Moderate)
Skills: Alpine weather (2/7) - Prolonged rivers (4/5) Winter - Snow/ice underfoot (2/7)

A valley route between the Lewis Pass and Arthur's Pass roads with 3 lowish passes - Devilskin, Lake Mann and Harpers Passes. I walked this route in a mixture of snow and rain - but in reality it is not a recommended bad weather route as the Taramakau and Otehake rivers are large and easily become uncrossable.

The recommended direction is probably the reverse of that described here, as the section from Otira to Kiwi hut is the most likely to become flooded. However, hundreds of Te Araroans walk the Harper Pass each year, so don't be put off by my warnings. Unless the weather is bad.

The entire route is either cut tracks or poled routes, with the exception of the Taramakau river which is easily followed. Basic track-finding skills are required, but this makes a good trip for trampers wanting some good experience on lesser-used tracks.


Distance: 7.7 km (3.5 DOC hours) - Tramping track - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 633m to 757m. Gain: 269m. Loss: 149m . Gradient: 3 deg (Flat)
Skills: - Streams (2/5)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

The start of the track is signposted off the Lewis Pass near Palmer Lodge. A good cut marked track crosses the Lewis River on a swingbridge and heads up the north side of the Nina. After 3-4km a second swingbridge crosses to the south bank. The new Nina Hut is 4km further along the south bank on a small knob overlooking the valley.

It is also possible to continue up the north side of the river at the 2nd swingbridge and ford it at the old hut site to climb to the new hut opposite.

Created by: Madpom on 2016-01-03. Experienced: 2007-03-14
Last updated by: Bernieq at 2017-08-12 02:47:07. Experienced: 2007-03-14

Distance: 3.6 km (2.5 DOC hours) - Tramping track - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 757m to 1252m. Gain: 550m. Loss: 55m . Gradient: 10 deg (Moderate)
Skills: Alpine weather (2/7) Winter - Snow/ice underfoot (2/7)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

A well marked, well cut (2007) tramping track follows terraces west from Nina hut before climbing steeply into Blind Creek. A further sidle follows until the creek rises to join the track. The old Devils Den Biv (2007) was located on the bushedge by the creek - a dark, cold spot, but the new hut has apparently been built further up on the saddle itself. The climb to the saddle from the bushedge was not marked, over low easy tussock. 1h45-2.5hrs

Created by: Madpom on 2016-01-03. Experienced: 2007-03-15
Last updated by: Bernieq at 2017-08-12 02:39:06. Experienced: 2007-03-15

Distance: 5.3 km (3.0 DOC hours) - Tramping track - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 616m to 1246m. Gain: 17m. Loss: 645m . Gradient: 7 deg (Moderate)
Skills: Alpine weather (2/7) - Occasional rivers (3/5) Winter - Snow/ice underfoot (2/7)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

A poled route over tussock leads south down Devilskin Stream to the bushedge where the marked, cut track starts. My notes just say "A very long sidle down the true left of Devilskin Stream to the Doubtful". Broad shingle flats with a track on the south side. Crossing was knee deep with some snowmelt present - small river in a big riverbed so clearly floods at times.

Doubtful hut is a few hundred meters downstream on the south bank.

(3hrs in deep snow.)

Created by: Madpom on 2016-01-03. Experienced: 2007-03-15

Distance: 3.4 km (2.0 DOC hours) - Tramping track - Easy terrain
Altitude: 615m to 678m. Gain: 67m. Loss: 7m . Gradient: 1 deg (Flat)
Skills: - Streams (2/5)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

A good track, in and out of the bush. Several side-creeks to cross on the valley flats, but none were significant in light snowmelt conditions. Turnoff to Lake Mann was signposted 'Bivvy, 2hrs' just west of the Kedron River crossing. (1-2hrs).

Created by: Madpom on 2016-01-03. Experienced: 2007-03-15

Distance: 3.0 km (3.0 DOC hours) - Tramping track - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 679m to 1142m. Gain: 511m. Loss: 48m . Gradient: 11 deg (Moderate)
Skills: - Streams (2/5) Winter - Snow/ice underfoot (2/7)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

A steep climb on a cut / marked tramping track on the true left of the Kedron River, followed by a tedious sidle in to the head of the valley and Lake Man Bivouac. The stream must be crossed below the biv. (Note: older topomaps show the track wrongly either on the true right, or climbing to the tops on the true left) (1.5-3 hrs)

Created by: Madpom on 2016-01-03. Experienced: 2015-03-15

Distance: 4.9 km (4.0 DOC hours) - Marked route - Moderate terrain
Altitude: 673m to 1358m. Gain: 179m. Loss: 720m . Gradient: 11 deg (Moderate)
Skills: Alpine weather (2/7) - Occasional rivers (3/5) Winter - Snow/ice underfoot (2/7)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

From Lake Man Biv a track climbs south to the bushedge. A good poled route crosses the exposed saddle and drops down the spur into Pussy Stream. River walk down Pussy Stream - a mix of in-river wet feet and beech-forest-bashing on the banks - there are no gravel flats to walk on. Once out on grassy flats, follow the Pussy Stream to the confluence with the Hope where a waist-deep crossing was required in slow-moderate flowing water to cross with moderate snow-melt occurring. This crossing could easily become impassable after heavy rain but sidling the true left down to the swingbridge at the Kiwi confluence looked easy enough. (2-4hrs)

Created by: Madpom on 2016-01-03. Experienced: 2007-03-16
Last updated by: Madpom at 2016-01-03 17:23:05. Experienced: 2007-03-16

Distance: 3.4 km (1.5 DOC hours) - Road - Easy terrain
Altitude: 638m to 674m. Gain: 23m. Loss: 55m . Gradient: 1 deg (Flat)
Skills: - Streams (2/5)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

An old farm track heads down the grass-and-matagouri flats of the Hope. St Jacobs Hut is visible to the west of the track. (45min-1.5hrs)

Created by: Madpom on 2016-01-03. Experienced: 2007-03-16

Distance: 3.0 km (1.5 DOC hours) - Road - Easy terrain
Altitude: 615m to 677m. Gain: 74m. Loss: 97m . Gradient: 3 deg (Flat)
Skills: - Streams (2/5)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

An old farm track runs down the Hope River flats from St Jacobs Hut to the Hope / Kiwi confluence. The junction with the Hope-Kiwi track is signposted. (0.45-1.5hrs)

Created by: Madpom on 2016-01-03. Experienced: 2007-03-16

Distance: 1.1 km (0.5 DOC hours) - Tramping track - Easy terrain
Altitude: 626m to 644m. Gain: 19m. Loss: 5m . Gradient: 1 deg (Flat)
Skills: - Streams (2/5)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

Good track on valley flats. 15-30mins.

Created by: Madpom on 2016-01-03. Experienced: 2007-03-16

Distance: 4.6 km (2.5 DOC hours) - Unmarked route, clear - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 637m to 768m. Gain: 138m. Loss: 10m . Gradient: 2 deg (Flat)
Skills: - Streams (2/5)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

An unmakred route leads up the broad flats of the Kiwi valley from Hope Kiwi loidge - basically I just followed old tire marks up the flats (2007). Newer maps show a track weaving the valley floor so it may since have been marked.

The marked track started on the western bushedge at the end of the clear flats. A good cut marked track ran 1km to the signposted track junction on the low ridge above Lake Marion. (1hr15-2.5hrs)

Created by: Madpom on 2016-01-03. Experienced: 2007-03-16

Distance: 4.5 km (2.0 DOC hours) - Tramping track - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 543m to 780m. Gain: 92m. Loss: 307m . Gradient: 5 deg (Gentle)
Skills: - Streams (2/5)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

A good cut marked track runs along terraces on the north side of Lake Sumner. 1.5km after the Marion turnoff a short track is signposted on the south side of the main track to an 'observation point' where partial views of Lake Sumner are present through increasingly tall bush.

The crossing of Three Mile Stream was unbridged in 2007, but new topomaps (2015) show a bridge present, so it may since have been rebuilt - check with DOC. This is a large stream in a confined bed and could easily flood after rain, though easily crossable in normal flows. The turnoff to Three Mile Stream hut, up Three Mile stream is signposted on the western bank.

(1-2hrs)

Created by: Madpom on 2016-01-03

Distance: 7.1 km (3.0 DOC hours) - Marked route - Easy terrain
Altitude: 536m to 582m. Gain: 101m. Loss: 98m . Gradient: 2 deg (Flat)
Skills: - Streams (2/5)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

Easy flat going on a cut track though bush / vague poled route across farmland. Hurunui River is crossed on a swingbridge and the junction with the Harper Pass track is beyond. (1.5-3hrs)

Created by: Madpom on 2016-01-03. Experienced: 2007-03-16

Distance: 1.4 km (0.5 DOC hours) - Benched track - Easy terrain
Altitude: 560m to 621m. Gain: 79m. Loss: 30m . Gradient: 4 deg (Gentle)
Skills: - Streams (2/5)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

An old 4wd track leads along the south bank of the Hurunui. 1km upstream of the swingbridge a tramping track turns off left (south)_ and sidles gently up to Hurunui Hut on terraces above. 20-30mins

Created by: Madpom on 2016-01-03. Experienced: 2007-03-16

Distance: 9.4 km (4.0 DOC hours) - Benched track - Easy terrain
Altitude: 577m to 679m. Gain: 151m. Loss: 117m . Gradient: 2 deg (Flat)
Skills: - Streams (2/5)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

An easy walk along a mixture of bush tracks and grassy flats to No. 3 Hut, which is located beside the track. 2-4hrs

Created by: Madpom on 2016-01-03. Experienced: 2007-03-17

Distance: 3.3 km (1.5 DOC hours) - Road - Easy terrain
Altitude: 645m to 695m. Gain: 50m. Loss: 1m . Gradient: 1 deg (Flat)
Skills: - Streams (2/5)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

An easy walk up old farm tracks and grassy flats between No. 3 and Camerons Hut. Cameron Stream was a dry-feet crossing in light drizzly conditions, but could flood. Maps show a walkwire which I did not sight. Both huts are located on the track. (45mins-1.5hrs)

Created by: Madpom on 2016-01-03. Experienced: 2007-03-17

Distance: 5.1 km (3.0 DOC hours) - Tramping track - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 695m to 838m. Gain: 164m. Loss: 21m . Gradient: 2 deg (Gentle)
Skills: - Streams (2/5)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

A clear, cut marked track runs alongside the river through beech and grassy clearings, climbing to the pass. Easy going and a change from the open flats lower down. 1.5km before the pass the lone remaining Harper Pass Biv (2 bunks) sits in a clearing to the right of the track.(1.5-3hrs)

Created by: Madpom on 2016-01-03. Experienced: 2007-03-17

Distance: 5.8 km (4.5 DOC hours) - Tramping track - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 497m to 971m. Gain: 174m. Loss: 515m . Gradient: 7 deg (Moderate)
Skills: Alpine weather (2/7) - Streams (2/5)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

An old pack-track climbs the valley floor towards the pass, later sidling the northern face - cut through subalpine scrub and fuschia bush. The descent of the western side is steeper - the pack track descending through first scrub then fuschia and finally reaching mature bush at the swingbridge.

The track stopped at the bridge (2007) and an unmarked route followed the southern riverbank the remaining 3km to No. 4 hut. Markers marked the start of the short track to No. 4 hut from the river. (2.5-4.5hrs)

Created by: Madpom on 2016-01-03. Experienced: 2007-03-17

Distance: 5.7 km (4.0 DOC hours) - Unmarked route, clear - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 372m to 490m. Gain: 2m. Loss: 118m . Gradient: 1 deg (Flat)
Skills: - Prolonged rivers (4/5)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

No permanent track exists down the Taramakau - this is a riverbed route. The shingle flats are continuously changing and route may differ from that described here.

I walked down the Taramakau in persistent rain. It is probably possible to complete the entire trip on the southern bank (missing Kiwi Hut) but steep faces upstream of Yeo Creek mean that crossing even minor side-creeks is tricky in high-water conditions, and so if the main Taramakau is not fordable below Locke Stream you are probably best sitting it out at the hut.

Head down the river flats from Locke Stream Hut, crossing as required. Below Yeo Creek it is possible to remain on the southern bank all the way to Otira. Townsend Creek reportedly floods badly, but was a thigh-deep, viable crossing when I visited.

The turnoff to Townsend Hut is not marked and is 400m upstream of the Michael Creek confluence.

Created by: Madpom on 2016-01-03. Experienced: 2007-03-18
Last updated by: Madpom at 2017-04-12 21:07:36. Experienced: 2007-03-18

Distance: 2.2 km (4.5 DOC hours) - Unmarked route, clear - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 336m to 374m. Gain: 0m. Loss: 38m . Gradient: 1 deg (Flat)
Skills: - Prolonged rivers (4/5)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

A braided section of the Taramakau exists below the Michael Creek confluence, but was impassable on my visit so I never made it to Kiwi Hut. A large doc triangle on the bushedge on the northern bank marks the start of the short track to the hut. (2.5-4.5hrs)

Created by: Madpom on 2017-04-12. Experienced: 2007-03-18
Last updated by: Madpom at 2017-04-12 21:06:57. Experienced: 2007-03-18

Distance: 6.4 km (3.0 DOC hours) - Unmarked route, clear - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 275m to 337m. Gain: 14m. Loss: 76m . Gradient: 1 deg (Flat)
Skills: - Prolonged rivers (4/5)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

I traveled this section on the southern bank, as the Taramakau was in flood and uncrossable. Other routes may exist on the north side avoiding the Otehake crossing but crossing the combiner rivers downstream. The Otehake is a major river the can carry a lot of water - but carries less sediment than the Taramakau - so judging conditions is easier. The combined river below the forks was huge and fast when I visited and not an option. I do not recommend taking any risks in crossing. If in doubt, wait it out or change your plans. The swingbridge shown 3km upriver has been removed by DOC so is not a fallback option, and reportedly travel up the first 1km on the true right is not viable anyway.

Good travel on grass flats and shingle banks exists down the southern side of the Taramakau from opposite Kiwi Hut to the Otehake confluence. I found a good long pool of slowish-moving water with good gravel fans in the runout a one to two hundred meters upstream of the confluence which allowed a safe swim to to other bank.

An old 4WD track starts to become visible below the confluence on the southern bank, and becomes increasingly followable as you continue down the large shingle flats of the Taramakau. Pfeifer Creek is reached 4km beyond the Otehake, and will not prove problematic except in extreme conditions. The junction with the Lake Kaurapataka Track is on the western bank of the Pfeifer.

Created by: Madpom on 2016-01-03. Experienced: 2007-03-18
Last updated by: Madpom at 2016-01-03 16:42:47. Experienced: 2007-03-18

Distance: 7.1 km (3.0 DOC hours) - Tramping track - Moderate terrain
Altitude: 250m to 319m. Gain: 123m. Loss: 94m . Gradient: 2 deg (Flat)
Skills: - Streams (2/5)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

An old 4WD track leads down the Taramakau flats from the Pfeifer confluence on the southern bank. Hugging the base of the hill to the south, look out foir a signposted / marked track to Morrisons Bridge, cutting east of a low rise 500m before the Otira River.

The wet-weather track sidles the east side of the Otira until it reaches flats 1km below the swingbridge. This section is subject to bad windfall and can be slow going. Follow the unmarked route up the eastern bank of the Otira to the major footbridge which crosses at Morrisons.

DOC warn that several sections of the wet weather track can flood in extreme conditions - but the track was out of the river after 2 days of persistent rain when I visited. In low flows it is also possible to ford the Otria directly to Aitkins at the Otira / Taramakau confluence without using the wet weather track.

Created by: Madpom on 2016-01-03. Experienced: 2007-03-18

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