A fantastic winter day trip or an overnighter for those wishing to stay in the cosy four-bunk Maitland Hut.
The route climbs steeply beneath the chairlift of the Ohau Ski Field towards the ridge of the Ōhau Range. There are expansive views from the ridge over the turquoise waters of Lake Ōhau and the snowy peaks of the Ben Ōhau Range beyond.
Follow the ridge over Pt1918 and up easy slopes to Mt Sutton (2007m). From Mt Sutton, the end of Dumb-bell Lake can be seen tucked in behind steep snow-clad slopes.
Follow the ridge to the west, circling around to Pt1942 on a gradual descent. From Pt1942, descend 100m on snow or scree slopes (depending on the time of year) to the saddle between Pt1855 and Pt1942. The route now turns east towards the northern end of the lake, passing beneath Pt1942 to cross the lake’s feeder stream followed by a 140m descent to the lake edge.
In winter the lake may be frozen except for at its outlet. In summer it’s an idyllic camping spot.
The outlet stream is followed southerly, gradually descending for around 1.2km, before turning west to the Maitland Valley. There’s occasional rock-hopping, but the route is easy enough to follow through speargrass-infested tussock. At one point, the stream drops spectacularly off a ledge and in winter can form a waterfall of solid ice.
It’s northwards around the spur leading to Pt1855 following the stream into the Maitland Valley. The valley opens out and walkers pass through tall tussock fields before entering forest from where it’s about 1km to the four-bunk Maitland Hut.
From the hut, the track follows Maitland Stream. Take care along less well-formed sections of track to avoid slipping into the stream.
About 3km from the hut, on the 800m contour, it’s uphill for 300m in a steep sidle away from Maitland Stream before traversing some large scree slopes. Just below Pt1508, it’s downwards again and within a few hundred metres there’s a 4WD farm road that is easy to walk. The final kilometre is a stroll across farm paddocks to the car park on Lake Ōhau Road.
Dumb-bell Lake makes a fantastic winter trip with various options available to mix it up, including continuing to Snowy Gorge Hut or joining up with Te Araroa at Freehold Creek.
- Total Ascent
- Maitland Hut to Lake Ōhau Road 3–4hr
- Maitland Hut (standard, four bunks)
- Via Ōhau Ski Field and Lake Ōhau Road
- Maitland Hut via Dumb-bell Lake (gpx, 13 KB)
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