Takitimu Conservation Area, Southland
Treasured by Southland trampers, the Takitimu Mountains stand in Fiordland’s rain shadow, which makes them a good destination when the weather’s bad to the west. But don’t underestimate them; this is a range of dissected valleys and craggy tops that rises to 1650m. It features marked but unformed tracks in most valleys, while Moir’s Guide South offers a tantalising selection of off-track routes linking them. A network of ex-Forest Service huts provides shelter from the storm.
1. Aparima Hut
A Forest Service six-bunker with an old farm hut beside it to take the overflow, Aparima Hut stands at the junction of several routes.
2. Princhester-Aparima Track
The main north-south route through the range’s eastern sector, this provides straight forward travel with a maximum altitude of 800m, making it a good winter trip. This newly marked route is part of the Te Araroa Trail.
3. Becketts Hut
An alternative return route for trampers on the Princhester-Aparima Track goes via Waterloo Valley and the four bunk Beckett’s Hut
4. Excelsior Peak
This 1543m peak on the range’s western side makes a good day trip, with great views into Fiordland. Access permission is required.
5. Lower Wairaki Hut
A Te Araroa Trail staging point as the trail skirts the range’s southern slopes.
6. Mount Linton Station
The Te Araroa Trust has negotiated access across private land on the range’s southern slopes. It does come with restrictions which need to be observed. These include a prohibition on camping and a requirement to travel in daylight hours.
7. Brunel Peaks
One of the Brunel Peaks (there are three) is the highest point of the range at 1650m. It can be accessed from the lower reaches of Windy Creek.
8. Windy River Col
A solid weekend round trip can be made by going up Windy Creek and returning via Redcliff Hut and Redcliff Creek.
9. Spence Bivvy
A chance to visit a classic Forest Service two bunk bivvy, the Spence Burn is easily reached from Aparima Hut.
10. Range traverse
A crossing from Blackmount in the west to the Dunrobin Road end in the east in a weekend is possible. Make sure you don’t have unbreakable commitments on the Monday – it’s not uncommon for parties to take longer than planned.