Altitude: 3m to 1637m. Gain: 5628m. Loss: 5096m . Gradient: 7 deg (Steep)
Skills: Occasional scrambles (3/7) - Prolonged rivers (4/6) Winter - High avalanche risk, iceaxe/crampons (7/7)
A interesting west-east alpine crossing taking in 3 moderately low passes from Haast (Coppermine roadend) to Ohau (Huxley Lodge). Stunning scenery and some little visited country, but a trampers route - no alpine skills required for a summer crossing.
One crossing of the Landsboro is required, so low-normal river levels are a must. The eastern side of Broderick Pass crosses several avalanche paths, and so either good avalanche conditions, or no snow loading are a must for that section.
Public transport is available to the coppermine roadend, but on the eastern side there is none. Hitching as far as Ohau township is possible, but slow, but for the last 15km to the roadend you'd be reliant on trampers' cars for a lift.
Altitude: 3m to 53m. Gain: 50m. Loss: 1m . Gradient: 0 deg (Flat)
Skills: - Streams (2/6)
From the signposted junction a poled tramping track crosses grass and scrub flats on the south side of the Mason River. The river is crossed on a swingbridge and the track follows flats up coppermine creek, eventually joining a 4WD track. The creek is crossed once - ok in normal flows. Coppermine Creek hut sits on low terraces on the northern bank, out of sight of the river. The route is poled.
Altitude: 51m to 673m. Gain: 881m. Loss: 319m . Gradient: 5 deg (Gentle)
Skills: - Streams (2/6)
From Coppermine Creek Hut, a 4wd track recrosses the creek (fine in most conditions) and heads past a private hut across farmland and into kahikatea-dominated bush. On finally reaching the base of the hills after 2km, it swings east and starts to climb sidling the hill face. This is a former roadbed - now a benched track, and as such is gentle gradient, cut into the hillside, winding in and out of sidecreeks.
At Robinson Creek a huge washout has removed the former benched road, and a now rough track drops to the valley floor, crosses the shingle expanse to the northern bank, and zigzags steeply back to the former line of the road. The creek is crossable in normal flows, but can become impassible after heave rain,
Maori Saddle Hut lies just beyond Maori Saddle - the highpoint of the former road.
Altitude: 402m to 631m. Gain: 87m. Loss: 301m . Gradient: 4 deg (Gentle)
From Mairi Saddle Hut north, the old roadbed sidles gentle down the south-eastern face of the Whakapohai valley. Just north of the saddle at pt515 (shown on the map) an old benched track branches south, climbing from the roadbed to the mica mines on Mt Clarke. The junction is obvious, but not signposted.
Altitude: 121m to 401m. Gain: 0m. Loss: 280m . Gradient: 5 deg (Gentle)
From the 2nd saddle at pt515 the former roadbed sidles Docharty Creek, finding large flats above Blowfly Hut. The track eventually looses the roadbed before reaching the hut, and becomes a marked tramping track for the last few hundred meters.
Altitude: 118m to 216m. Gain: 117m. Loss: 26m . Gradient: 1 deg (Flat)
Skills: - Streams (2/6)
From Blowfly Hut, return to the north bank of the river, wither by the swingbridge 200m downstream, or by wading the blue pools below the hut.
Once on the main track on the north bank of the Moeraki, follow the track upriver. The track is well marked and cut (2011) meandering through marshy flats in bush or flax, or teetering along the crumbling riverbank.
The river is slow and deep, and should you wish to cross you'd either have to swim or pick one of the few shallows.
Altitude: 213m to 379m. Gain: 168m. Loss: 2m . Gradient: 2 deg (Gentle)
Skills: - Occasional rivers (3/6)
Above Horseshoe Flat Hut the Meoraki valley continues broad and boggy for a kilometer or so before finally the lower valleysides steepen to gentle slopes and the tussock and flat is replaced by drier beech forest.
The track follows the northern bank for 2km from the hut, before crossing to the south. The crossing is knee deep in normal flows, but can easily become impassable after rain. Once on the south, the track becomes rougher underfoot, but still marked and cut (2011). After a further 2km of gentle climb, the track cuts across the steep, rocky southern fork of the Moeraki (a trickle in dry conditons, but again impassible after heavy rain) and emerges onto a sloping grassy clearing at Middle Head Hut just beyond.
Altitude: 379m to 1158m. Gain: 779m. Loss: 421m . Gradient: 9 deg (Moderate)
Skills: Occasional scrambles (3/7) - Streams (2/6) Winter - High avalanche risk, iceaxe/crampons (7/7)
From Middle Head Hut, the climb up the south fork of the Moeraki is steep but straightforward. The route is up the steep rocky creekbed, and the creek is low / dry in normal conditions. On reaching the basin at the head of the valley (1.5km above the hut) the creek starts to split and the bush is replaced by thick scrub. Choosing the correct watercourse is vital. Follow the centre watercourse shown on the topomap directly towards the saddle until about 400m west of the saddle, when a good watercourse swings left (ENE) onto the northern valleyside reaching good open tussock faces. These can be sidled to the ridgeline 200m NE of the saddle. Snow chutes may persist late into summer. (2-4 hrs to saddle)
Drop to the saddle itself and pick good descents down a brief, steep tussock face into the head of the Zeillan Valley. The next 2km is a major avalanche zone in winter - with falls from both valley sides. The descent starts easy on stony avalanche debris, but after 2km tussock and scrub appear and progress slows. Scrub gets progressively thicker, until rounding the bend in the valley and swinging south, small tussock flats are encountered, below which the river disappears into a tight, bush-clad gorge. (2-4 hrs to flats from saddle)
Spectacular views lie on both sides, with the sheer, glacier-capped faces on Mts Zeilland and Monro.
Altitude: 158m to 1383m. Gain: 646m. Loss: 1225m . Gradient: 22 deg (Steep)
Skills: Occasional scrambles (3/7) Winter - Iceaxe/crampons (4/7)
From the flats in the Zeilian, pick up the base of the obvious spur climbing the eastern valleyside just above the start of the gorge. This provides good, open travel 500 vertical meters to the bushedge, and a further 150 vertical meters to the ridge.
On reaching the ridge, swing uphill and follow the ridgeline over gentle, broad shattered stone until 200m south of pt1407. Amazing views are the reward - down the Clarke / Landsboro and east to the snowcappoed main divide. (2.5-5 hrs from valley to pt1407)
An obvious spur drops SE from here to the head of a flat in the Clarke. Going is good throughout, first in fine stone, then tussock, then open beech, though the ridge is narrow in places. The northern face is sheer and crumbling - don't go there!
The former hut site is on the western side of the tongue of bush on the valley below, and good campspots exist on tussock flats there, or in smaller, grassier clearings some 200m upriver. Sandflies abound.
Altitude: 157m to 1350m. Gain: 1206m. Loss: 1128m . Gradient: 17 deg (Steep)
Skills: Occasional scrambles (3/7) - Prolonged rivers (4/6) Winter - Iceaxe/crampons (4/7)
From the former hut site in the Clarke, head upriver on the true left, climbing 100m above the river in beech forest to find terraces above the gorge. Cross the sidestream entering from the east, and follow it / the low ridge between it and the main river upstream until due south of Davies Flat. Cut east across large terraces and pick up the spur between this sidecreek and the next sidecreek upriver. This is ill-defined at first but becomes obvious as you climb. Good map/.compass work required to hit it.
A steep 500m climb through mostly good beech forest follows to reach the bushedge. From there it's another 200m of climb to pt1388 on good low tussock tops. Amazing views of the solution range as it rises from beech forest to glaciated tops, and of the main range opposite. Also clear views of the McKinnon creek and Broderick Pass opposite.
From pt1388 a narrow spur angle first SSE, later SE, dropping to the Landsborough. This was reasonable, if steep, travel throughout, first on tussock, later in open beech.
The Landsborough may be crossed at the foot of the ridge (the former swingbridge / walkwire site) under normal flows, but can become impassable after even moderate rain Travel up / down the river is generally on the southern bank so a crossing here is required.
Altitude: 237m to 279m. Gain: 59m. Loss: 21m . Gradient: 1 deg (Gentle)
Skills: - Streams (2/6)
Upriver of the former walkwire at Golden Point the Landsborough remains tight for 1km, with travel on steep rocky banks and a couple of boulder-scrambles required. Travel on the southern bank is recommended.
After 1km the valley opens to first shingle flats and later broad tussock terraces. Several sidecreeks require crossing - none are a problem in normal conditions but several could flood.
Fraser Hut (Creswicke Flat Hut) sits out of sight at the back of a terrace at the downriver end of Creswicke Flat. Follow the bushedge after crossing Mackenzie Creek to find it.
Altitude: 273m to 1637m. Gain: 1504m. Loss: 794m . Gradient: 17 deg (Moderate-hard)
Skills: Alpine weather (2/7) - Streams (2/6) Winter - Iceaxe/crampons, avalanche risk (5/7)
From Fraser Hut, head downriver 200m and find Mackenzie Creek. Follow this upstream for 1km to the 1st forks. The eastern fork draining Brodrick Pass has major falls in it upstream, and is not a viable route. Instead, take the western fork and look for DOC markers 200m upriver on the eastern bank marking the start of a track.
The track is vague at first, climbing to the spur, and easily lost (2011). However, once on the spur it is better defined and marked with markers of various ages. Follow the track up the spur to about 1150m, where it cuts ENE off the spur, dropping 100m to a basin below (not clear on the map). Here small flats in the beech are dotted with fire-rings marking a good campspot, with water from a small stream.
Continue east from the campspot, passing cairns marking the start of a route dropping into Mackenzie Creek down a steep slip. This route hits the valleyfloor at the bottom end of the clear upper section of the valley floor. From here, the route to the saddle is simple - head upriver on tussock, later gravel directly to Brodrick Pass.
Once over the pass, cairns mark the start of the route into the Huxley - down rocky faces cutting over the head of the 1st creek south of the pass. The now-poled track then follows the spur down to the valley floor.
Once on the valley floor, the poled track, well used, heads south at about 1020m towards Brodrick Hut. The last creek before the hut is deeply scoured out and is quite a scramble down and backup. This entire last 1km is exposed to avalanches from the peaks above in winter.
Altitude: 735m to 998m. Gain: 23m. Loss: 286m . Gradient: 4 deg (Gentle)
Skills: - Streams (2/6) Winter - Snow/ice underfoot, avalanche risk (3/7)
A good, marked tramping track runs down the western side of the Huxley River (north branch) from Brodrick Hut to Huxley Forks Hut. The river is crossed by swingbridge 200m upriver of Huxley Forks.
Altitude: 632m to 734m. Gain: 77m. Loss: 176m . Gradient: 2 deg (Gentle)
Skills: - Streams (2/6)
From the Forks Hut, head downriver on terraces on the northern bank on a well-travelled but unmarked route. After 2km the river undercuts the northern bank and you must either cross the river, or look out for triangles on the bushedge marking the start of a sidle track which climbs the valleyside. 1km downriver you can return to the valley floor on the true left for another 2km over open grassy flats to the top of the gorge at the valley mouth.
The gorge may be passed in the river (3 crossings) if the flows are low, or a sidle track climbs the northern valleyside 200m before the gorge, then drops to cross the river on the swingbridge, climbs the southern valleyside, and exits at the Dobson.
Altitude: 609m to 636m. Gain: 13m. Loss: 40m . Gradient: 1 deg (Flat)
From the Huxley/Dobson confluence, the route is unmarked and follows the valley flats downstream, hugging the western flank of the valley. After 2km, a DOC triangle on the bushedge marks the start of a sidle track which sidles low on the western face avoiding the need for a river crossing at the hut.
Altitude: 552m to 611m. Gain: 18m. Loss: 76m . Gradient: 1 deg (Flat)
Skills: - Streams (2/6)
A long, unexciting walk down the flats of the Hopkins valley from Monument Hut to the end of the council-maintained road at Huxley Lodge.