Altitude: 356m to 1721m. Gain: 3262m. Loss: 3303m . Gradient: 8 deg (Moderate-hard)
Skills: Alpine weather (2/7) - Occasional rivers (3/6) Winter - Iceaxe/crampons (4/7)
A 2 to four day circuit in the eastern Kawekas, ideally suited to a 3-day weekend with a Friday night walk in to MacKintosh Hut.
This started as a bad-weather circuit taking the low-route from MacKintosh to Middle Hill via Makahu Saddle, but the weathermen got it wrong, and a fine day dawned (see associated story) and so a tops trip resulted.
My route and walking times were as follows (these are my times - times in the routeguide below are DOC times).:
Lawrence Roadend -> Mackintosh: Good track - 2.25 hrs
Mackintosh -> Kaweka J: Good track to ridgeline. Poled route beyond - 2.5 hrs
Kaweka J -> Whetu summit: Ridgeline route - 1.5 hrs
Whetu Summit -> Middle Hill Hut: Good track - 1 hr
Middle Hill -> Kaweka Flats Biv: Good track but rough/steep crossing Nth Makahu - 2.5 hrs
Kaweka Flats Biv -> Iron Whare: Good track - 30 mins
Iron Whare -> Whittle Rd fire dam: marked bush route - 1.5 hrs
Whittle Rd -> Black Birch Biv: Good track - 1 hr
Black Birch Biv -> Lotkow rd: Good track, steep descent - 1 hr
Lotkow roadend -> Lawrence roadend: Good track except 1km of riverbed travel - 2 hrs
The original 'low country', bad weather trip was as follows. This would mean retracing steps from Middle Hill hut back to the Iron Whare turnoff: about 2-3 hours of walking. But would avoid the tops completely if weather was bad.
Kaweka Flats Biv
Middle Hill Hut
Black Birch Biv
This could be extended further with a loop from Middle Hill to Makino Hut or Te Puia Lodge