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Ivory Lake Hut via Whitcombe Valley, Westland

Hike the Whitcombe Track to Frew Hut and then spend another valley day hiking to four-bunk Wilkinson Hut. An hour downstream from the hut, the route veers up a steep creek falling from Pahlow Ridge.

Grovel through the creekbed to a tussock and scrub slope that leads north to scree and up onto the nose of the ridge. Turning south, a cairn at about 1500m marks the start of the thirsty descent to Price Basin Hut.

From Price Basin, headed up steep tussock towards Pt2056 on the Lange Range. There are some tricky sections here – about two-thirds of the way up are two awkward rock outcrops. Traverse around the Price side of the first on ascending ledge. The second obstacle, a buttress, looks alarming from below but is a straightforward clamber at a fairly easy angle, although still a bit exposed.

Crampon up snow to a lunch spot perched over the brow of the range from where Ivory Lake Hut is visible.

Descend the rocky slope to the hut – choose your route and take care.
From the hut, climb up and around the western side of the lake, weaving around Weetbix towers before heading onto an inwards-sloping ramp of firm snow to Pt2084.

Shortly after Pt2084, a rope may be needed to get back onto the ridge. The moves are easy, but the run-out onto scree is steep and unforgiving.
Follow a ‘broad spur’ into the Tuke Valley. Sections are extremely steep and you wouldn’t want to slip.

Arriving at the river at the 1300m contour, plunge into the river and clamber over boulders and through pools, for 45 minutes to four-bunk Top Tuke Hut.

The most difficult part of the journey is over.

Follow the occasionally-marked track on the true left bank of the Tuke to above its gorge, where a cairned and later poled route climbs steeply up a creek and onto the tops of Dickie Ridge. Four-bunk Dickie Spur Hut, is slightly off the route and has a fine view of the upper Tuke Valley, Mt Beaumont and Galena Ridge.

It’s a short hop to Mikonui Flat Hut form here. It’s then a three and a half hour day to Explorer Hut.

The track from here is easy to follow down to Doctor Creek, but requires some care while crossing to the Hokitika River.

Follow the true left of the Hokitika back to the car park – or cross to the opposite side if conditions allow.

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Distance
75km
Total Ascent
6123m
Grade
Difficult
Time
Allow 8-10 days. Whitcombe Valley Rd to Frew Hut, 7hr; To Wilkinson Hut, 10hr; To Price Basin Hut, 9hr; To Ivory Lake Hut, 6-7hr; To Top Tuke Hut, 9hr; To Dickie Spur Hut, 7hr; To Mikonui Flat Hut, 4hr; To Explorer Hut, 3-4hr; To Whitcombe Valley Rd, 7hr
Access
Follow signs from Hokitika to Hokitika Gorge. Whitcombe Valley Road continues past the gorge car park to the Whitcombe Track car park about 1km further on
Map
BV18, BW18

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