img 20220214 170732 1 6984 1200 900 80Checking out the route into Little Canyon Creek. Credit: Uta Machold

Route Details

Day One - State Highway 6 to Makarora Hut - 6hrs, 13.7km, +900m, -630m
Day Two - Makarora Hut to the Hunter - 9.5hrs, 14.5km, +1110m, - 1400m
Day Three - The Hunter to Huxley Range Col  - 9.5hrs, 11km, +1650m, -250m
Day Four - Huxley Col to Ahuriri campsite - 6.7km, 4.75hrs, +330m, -1360m
Day Five - Big Canon Creek explore to Shamrock hut
Day Six - Shamrock Hut to Maitland Hut - 14.1km, 9.75hrs, +1380m, -1210m
Day Seven/Eight - Maitland Hut
Day Nine - Maitland Hut to Lake Ohau Lodge - 21.9km, 10hrs, +1270m, - 1660m

This 90km route had us tramp up the Makarora valley and cross over four alpine passes in the Hunter, Ahuriri and Maitland catchments before crossing another saddle to drop down to Lake Ohau. We used six of our nine days to traverse this route with one day spent exploring Big Canyon creek in the Ahuriri and two nights in Maitland hut waiting out high winds or rain. This Auckland Tramping Club trip which I was lucky enough to tag along on helped me finish an uncompleted trip we had attempted in 2013 when we failed to get out of Little Canyon creek into the Hunter. 

We found the track from the highway to Makarora hut slow going beside the river but once the valley opened up our speed quickened up. On Day Two the first challenge was to get on the correct spur to gain access to the tops. This was located across the valley from SH777 between the two streams which provided good access thru the tree cover. Once above the bushline travel up to the saddle and into Scrubby Flat Creek was a simple pick the least point of resistance. Day Three's access onto the tops was a tad more problematic and once we eyeballed the options picked one above the airstrip that provide a narrow ramp that required some bush bashing thru the scrub to get above the bluffs. Once there we encountered plenty of animal trials that provided easier access thru the thinning scrub. From there we plodded up a spur to the tops and found a small tarn just over the saddle that provided a reasonable camping spot while there was little wind. 

We spent some time selecting our route in Little Canyon Creek thru the bluffs. We traversed across the slope under the bluffs below the tarn and recrossed the stream lower down to gain access to the scree slopes below. The Watson stream route out of the Ahuriri was as usual an easy wander up the tussocked slope to get above the gorged section. It was a long slog up the scree to gain access over the Barrier Range into the Maitland but a tussocked slope provided good footing up most of the climb. Travel down to Maitland hut and out over the Ohau Range via the Dumb-bell Lake/Freehold Creek route offered little resistance and the travel was relatively easy.

Check out Dennis Brown's Trip Report here