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Arahura-Styx circuit, West Coast

Stepping gingerly over snow-covered tussock at Styx Saddle. Photo: Neil Silverwood
Total Ascent
Road end to Lower Arahura Hut, 2.5-3.5hr; To Mudflats Hut, 4.5-5hr; To Grassy Flat Hut, 3-4hr; To road end, 4.5-5hr
Lower Arahura Hut ($5, six bunks), Mudflats Hut ($5, six bunks), Grassy Flat Hut ($5, 10 bunks)
At Lake Kaniere, from Milltown Road or Dorothy Falls Road

This three-to-four day loop heads up the Arahura River and down the Styx River to the bottom end of Lake Kaniere. It’s a relaxed affair and a doable trip in all seasons, including winter when higher routes, like the Three Passes, become difficult.

The track to Lower Arahura Hut is easily accessible, following a well-benched historic packhorse trail that meanders gently through the bush and along the riverbed.

It begins on farmland, but soon enters native forest, following the river. The track bridges the Arahura over a deep blue pool, called ‘The Cesspool’, a fearsome-looking grade five rapid.

The track continues up the valley to the hut.

From the hut, there’s an easy pack track which climbs gently above the river and takes about 4.5 to five hours to Mudflats Hut. The benched track follows the Arahura all the way to Styx Saddle. It’s a friendly gradient, suitable for most fitness levels. Mudflats Hut is visible from across the river as you approach it.

From the hut, the miners track continues to Styx Saddle, a low pass – just 770m high. From the pass it’s a further 1 to 1.5hrs to Grassy Flat Hut, a hut with modern features.

From the hut, the track soon crosses the Styx River and the track continues down the valley for 4.5 to 5hrs to the Styx Road end.