Length: from 4.0 up to 8.0 days
Distance: 127.5 km (53.0 DOC hours) - Unmarked route, clear - Moderate-hard terrain
Altitude: 0m to 154m. Gain: 1745m. Loss: 1746m . Gradient: 2 deg (Gentle)
Skills: - Prolonged rivers (4/5)

A valley circuit from the Milford Road (Gunns Gamp) to the west coast and back via the Pyke and Hollyford valleys. A more challenging marked route (i.e. markers show the route but there is no cut track) up the Pkye and a well maintained tourist trail back via the Hollyford. A good lowland route with views up to towering peaks above. Remote west coast beaches. Seals.

One unbridged river crossing in the upper Pyke is the main limitation meaning the route is not viable after heavy rain.

Most parties take 6-7 days.


Distance: 19.1 km (5.0 DOC hours) - Surfaced walkway - Easy terrain
Altitude: 15m to 154m. Gain: 363m. Loss: 407m . Gradient: 2 deg (Gentle)
Skills:
GPX info source: Drawn on map

An excellent, Great Walk quality track runs from the road end all the way to Alabaster Hut. Wide, benched, well drained, and every side stream bridged. This segment is frequented by guided walkers so you might encounter their large groups. Hidden Falls Hut is 2 hours from the road end.

Created by: Yarmoss on 2015-07-14. Experienced: 2008-12-07

Distance: 11.9 km (4.0 DOC hours) - Tramping track - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 7m to 139m. Gain: 273m. Loss: 284m . Gradient: 3 deg (Flat)
Skills: - Streams (2/5)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

Follow the Hollyford track down Lake Alabaster and cross the swing bridge across the Pyke River. A good quality track heads down valley through bush to follow the Hollyford River to Lake McKellrow. I walked this in torrential rain, side streams along here are mostly not bridged and are tricky to cross in flood. The track floods in places from the streams. The ford across the Hollyford to McKerrow Island (2-3 hours from Alabaster Hut) is impassible when the Hollyford is in flood. From the head of the lake follow the Demon Trail on to Demon Trail hut.

Created by: Yarmoss on 2015-07-14. Experienced: 2008-12-08

Distance: 20.6 km (9.0 DOC hours) - Tramping track - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 1m to 71m. Gain: 288m. Loss: 284m . Gradient: 2 deg (Gentle)
Skills: - Streams (2/5)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

From Demon Trail Hut carry on down the lake following the track. The larger streams are crossed by 3 wire bridges but in normal flows can usually be forded if desired. Hokuri Hut is reached after 4-5 hours from Demon Trail Hut. Shortly north of Hokuri Hut the track reaches the lake edge and generally stays there for the rest of the way to the foot of the lake. Leaving the track and following the lake beach is very pleasant. Hokuri Creek is easily forded at its mouth under normal flows, other wise head up the creek to cross the 3 wire. From the beach nothing is seen of Jamestown or "Charlies Place". At the foot of the lake the markers are visible where the track swings northwards, there's a display of a canoe here under a shelter. Follow the good quality track in land to the head of a large clearing near the Martins Bay Guided walkers lodge. Weather forecasts can be gotten from here if you ask, and jet boats back up Lake McKerrow as far as the Pyke Lodge booked if they have room. The track continues on through mixed scrub to giant sand dunes along the lower Hollyford River. Follow the track on to Martins Bay Hut. The seal colony at Long Reef is worth checking out if you have time.

Created by: Yarmoss on 2015-07-14. Experienced: 2008-12-09
Last updated by: Yarmoss at 2015-07-14 20:32:02

Distance: 13.0 km (8.0 DOC hours) - Unmarked route, clear - Moderate terrain
Altitude: 0m to 19m. Gain: 51m. Loss: 59m . Gradient: 0 deg (Flat)
Skills: - Occasional rivers (3/5)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

Note: I walked this in 2008. The route along the coast between Long Reef and Penguin Rock went through dense scrub and was fairly overgrown, but was followable. DOC now says on their website that this is completely overgrown and you have to follow the rocky foreshore the whole way along, either side of high tide.

From Martins Bay hut a good track goes as far as Long Reef where there is a seal colony, and chances to see Fiordland Crested Penguins. Beyond Long Reef a muddy and overgrown track used to go through the scrub to past Penguin Rock (see note above). The route drops to the rocky foreshore past Penguin Rock point and the waters edge past a couple of baches/cribs to the start of Three Mile Beach. Ford Mackenzie Creek at the beach (impassible after rain) and continue up Three Mile Beach. Big Bay Hut is located in scrub between the north end of the beach and the Awarua River. What confused matters is there is also a large number of private baches/cribs located here and a confusing network of tracks connecting them with the beach and the river. At the beach edge look for a pole which in 2008 had a large fishing buoy attached to it and a deer stag skull on the top, and take the track beside it inland. A windsock also flutters from a high pole above the beach: if you reach parallel to this windsock then you have gone too far north up the beach. The track winds past a bach/crib and reaches a track junction where a sign post points southeast to the swing bridge over the Awarua River and northwards to the DOC hut. Head north and Big Bay Hut is a few dozen metres further on.

Created by: Yarmoss on 2015-07-15. Experienced: 2008-12-10
Last updated by: Yarmoss at 2015-07-15 20:13:48

Distance: 12.2 km (4.0 DOC hours) - Tramping track - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 0m to 89m. Gain: 179m. Loss: 125m . Gradient: 1 deg (Gentle)
Skills: - Streams (2/5)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

From Big Bay Hut you can head north to the Awarua River mouth and ford there if you wish, otherwise head south to reach a track junction where a sign points to the swing bridge over the river. Follow a marked route up the true right of the river to open ground northeast of the river mouth where track markers lead off into the bush. The Pyke/Big Bay route follows an old bulldozed track made by asbestos prospectors in the 1960's (I think) who were going to look for asbestos in the Red Hills. The folk who use the baches/cribs at Big Bay maintain the route as a quad bike track if the wheel marks in the mud are anything to go by. What this all means is this route segment from the Awarua River as far as Paulin Creek is very easy travel (compared to the rest of the Pyke) and it is simple going. Paulin Creek is followed down to reach the vast flood plain of the Pyke at Pyke Crossing. There are excellent campsites here on both sides of the river, and are the last good ones until past the Barrier River some 6 odd hours further on. An old airstrip is on the true left amoungst scrub. The open areas down river from Pyke Crossing are all densely scrubbed.

Created by: Yarmoss on 2015-07-15. Experienced: 2008-12-11

Distance: 17.5 km (9.0 DOC hours) - Unmaintained track - Moderate terrain
Altitude: 15m to 56m. Gain: 133m. Loss: 168m . Gradient: 1 deg (Flat)
Skills: - Prolonged rivers (4/5)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

From Pyke Crossing make your way down river on the true left of the Pyke. The Pyke Route is an old unmaintained track. Markers are sporadic with many on trees which are now in the river due to erosion or gone all together. The route has stretches where it is heavily overgrown. Dense forest parts, away from the river, are often full of animal trails which result in you following the wrong trail. As far as Lake Wilmot the best travel is often to be had in the Pyke River bed. There is no track around Lake Wilmot, you get past by wading in the lake, up to waist deep in normal conditions. The "high tide" flood mark on the lake edge adds a metre. Old maps show the route following the lake edge to the outlet and continuing down the Pyke River, this is incorrect. A relatively well marked leg heads southwards from the southeast corner of the lake, as shown on the map here, to the Barrier River. The two branches of the Barrier River are swiftly flowing rivers which are impassible after rain. There is good camping on the sides of the south branch, about 6 hours from Pyke Crossing and about 3 hours from Olivine Hut. Continuing southwards the Pyke is rejoined near the Diorite Stream branches, impassible after rain. Its on down through bush to finally reach the Olivine River. The river is fordable under low flows, otherwise an old hand cranked cable car spans the river and provides a final upper body workout after your grueling 9 hour slog down the Pyke. Olivine Hut is just beside the true left side of the cable way.

Created by: Yarmoss on 2015-07-15. Experienced: 2008-12-12

Distance: 13.9 km (9.0 DOC hours) - Unmaintained track - Moderate-hard terrain
Altitude: 8m to 25m. Gain: 51m. Loss: 56m . Gradient: 0 deg (Flat)
Skills: - Occasional rivers (3/5)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

From Olivine Hut follow the sporadic markers southwards down the Pyke riverbank. Markers are often gone due to river erosion, and much like further north large parts are overgrown with best travel in the river bed. The Black Swamp is a waist deep stretch of foul smelling black mud south east of the airstrip shown on the map. if you are nimble you can avoid the worst of the mud by hopping on clumps of flax. Open patches north of Lake Alabaster are old farmland from when Davy Gunn used to run his cattle up here, there are still remains of old fences visible. Alabaster Creek is forded on a gravel bar where it flows into the lake. This is impassible after rain. The map shows a track with bridges going down the eastern side of lake Alabaster. This is a complete and utter fantasy. There is no track and certainly no bridges. Like Lake Wilmot, you get down the lake by wading in it, again up to waist deep under normal conditions. The high tide mark is way up at the bush edge, again adding about a metre. The bush on the side of the lake is dense, steeply sloping and lousy with bush lawyer... trying to avoid the deeper parts of the lake shore are a last resort. It takes 3 to 4 hours to get down the lake. Follow the shore all the way to Alabaster Hut.

Created by: Yarmoss on 2015-07-15. Experienced: 2008-12-13

Distance: 19.1 km (5.0 DOC hours) - Surfaced walkway - Easy terrain
Altitude: 15m to 154m. Gain: 407m. Loss: 363m . Gradient: 2 deg (Gentle)
Skills:
GPX info source: Drawn on map

Note: Described in the reverse direction to your journey

An excellent, Great Walk quality track runs from the road end all the way to Alabaster Hut. Wide, benched, well drained, and every side stream bridged. This segment is frequented by guided walkers so you might encounter their large groups. Hidden Falls Hut is 2 hours from the road end.

Created by: Yarmoss on 2015-07-14. Experienced: 2008-12-07

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