Waitutu to Hauroko
From the south Coast via Lake Poteriteri
Waitutu River to Lake Hauroko. (Harry's Track)
A Three to Four days rough route, partially unmarked.
This route description begins at Waitutu hut at the mouth of the Waitutu River. It is a three-day walk in along the South Coast or a helicopter (book a helicopter) or boat ride (book a wjet) to Waitutu Hut.
How you get there is up to you but if planning a walking adventure I would recommend a Jet boat to Waitutu lodge on the Wairaurahiri river and then a days walk to Waitutu river/Hut. This makes for a nice round trip as your car will be at the Hauroko Jetty where your trip ends. You can arrange for the boat to pick you up at Teal bay on the way out and therefore shorten your trip by one day.
The Route travels up the Waitutu river to the Slaughter Burn where there is new six bunk hut. It is possible to walk from the Waitutu lodge/Wairuarahiri river to the Slaughter Burn in one longish day bypassing Waitutu Hut. There is no public marked route from the Waitutu hut but a DOC trapline follows the eastern bank of the Waitutu river and can be followed with ease. The trapline begins on top of the terrace just east of the Waitutu swing bridge and is marked with yellow triangles. It is a pleasant 4-5 hour walk from Waitutu Hut to the Slaughter Burn Hut.
The Waitutu river is crossed via a three wire walk wire at the Slaughter Burn and the hut is a further 20 minutes up the Slaughter Burn. A short day if you started from the Waitutu hut but a lovely spot to stay and dry out and the Slaughterburn is a lovely river to wander up and explore on a nice day. It provides great hunting opportunities as the name suggests. I recommend spending the night here as a full day is often required for the next section. But should you wish to camp out then continue north without crossing to the Slaughterburn.
Leaving the Slaughterburn hut, cross the Waitutu river via the walkwire and then turn upriver sidling slightly until you gain the low ridge above the river/lake. There are old permolat markers (small red or white steel tags) that mark the route at this early stage. There are numerous DOC Trapline markers too but they are not to be relied upon as an accurate indication of the route. They are there to mark traplines. The route follows the ridge and then the edge of a broad flat terrace above the east side of lake Poteriteri and careful navigation is required especially if the weather is less than perfect.
At the point where the ridgeline veers away from the lake begin to sidle down to the lake shore and then continue along the lakeshore to cross the Brown burn via a new three-wire bridge. The Poteriteri hut is only two hundred meters further north along the shore.
Do not be tempted to descend to the lake shore too early as there are numerous bluffs along the edge of the terrace. The exact point at which you should begin your descent is a matter for your discretion. The ridge can be followed all the way around but it turns into a long day. The same applies if travelling south, you decide where to begin your sidle ascent. The accepted route (when travelling south) is over the summits of the two small humps just south of the Brown Burn and then up the sharp spur and across the flat terrace and stream to the high point of the ridge in what is more or less a straight line. The top of the ridge/terrace is very flat and experienced trampers have confessed to doing “scenic” circles up here so keep a close eye on your compass. Water can be scarce on the ridge if you are fussy about quality so carry some with you for this section.
The Poteriteri hut situated right on the shore of princess beach is an older character hut with a reputation for being cold. It has an open fire with a rather unique wetback system for hot water on tap. Make sure you put water in the tank before lighting the fire. Lake Poteriteri is a very beautiful lake and the setting of Princess beach makes for a very picturesque stopover.
The track from Poteriteri to Hauroko was originally cut by Harry Templeton of Tuatapere. Harry spent many years exploring, hunting and generally poking around this area and his wonderfully contoured track is a testament to his knowledge and skill at navigation. This track is more correctly called a marked route these days as although it is extremely well marked it is very grown over with tall crown fern and careful attention needs to be paid in places to see the markers above the fern. If the weather is or has been wet then pushing through this high fern will give you a whole new experience of what wet really means. The route climbs over a ridge and then descends to the Wairaurahiri River valley before sidling its way around to the walkwire at the outlet of Lake Hauroko. Another walkwire is crossed first at the Rata burn where the route to Waps biv can be picked up. The Rata burn is also a good route to follow up onto Princess Range even if a bit tedious. From the Wairaurahiri river crossing, it is an easy 40-minute walk to Teal bay hut passing the turnoff to The Hump Ridge on the way. The view up the lake as you walk this section is quite stunning.
Teal bay Hut is situated in an alcove of Kowhai trees that attract large numbers of kereru or wood pigeon at various times of the year. A popular spot for boaties Teal bay can often be quite a busy little place. A jet boat can be arranged to drop you off or pick you up from here avoiding the long walk out to the Hauroko jetty and road end. An alternative route from Teal bay is over the Hump and down to Bluecliffs beach and the Rarakau car park. This too takes about 8-9 hours and involves crossing high tops so take care if the weather is threatening snow.
The track from Teal bay climbs the ridge behind the hut and follows the ridgeline until it drops down to the lake shore before climbing over a low ridge to again follow the shore around the bay to the road end. There are some colourful comments about the times stated on the signs for this section of track so be prepared for it to take longer than the 8-9 hours stated. This is the highest you will climb the whole route unless you go over the Hump and still you remain in the bush below 600m.