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 Scotts Knob Loop, Leatham Conservation Area

On the steep climb up from Bull Paddock Stream. Photo: Ray Salisbury
Distance
57.9km
Total Ascent
3932m
Time
Branch River to Mid Silverstream Hut, 7hr; Mid-Silverstream Hut to Bull Paddock Stream Biv, 7-10hr; Bull Paddock Stream Biv to Lost Stream Biv, 8-9hr; Lost Stream Biv to Greigs Hut, 8-9hr
Grade
Difficult
Accom.
Mid Silverstream Hut ($5, five bunks); Bull Paddock Stream Biv (free, two bunks); Lost Stream Biv (free, two bunks); Siberia Hut ($5, six bunks); Greigs Hut ($5, 15 bunks)
Access
Leatham Road, off SH63 (note: the road beyond Leatham Ford requires a 4WD).
Map
BS25, BR25
GPX File
scotts-knob-loop-leatham-conservation-area (gpx, 119 KB)
Your device does not support GPX files. Please try a different device.

Use a 4WD to gain access to the Branch River. Go as far as you can (the author of this trip made it as far as May Stream).

Carry on by foot to a crossing of the Branch River, about an hour’s tramp from May Stream. Hopping over the shingle fan, take the old track up the true right bank of Silverstream to Mid Silverstream Hut. This should be easy going though windfall may block parts of the track and if it’s wet, then it will be slippery. It shuld take around 7hr to reach the hut.

Carry on up-valley, following the track for a way, then a route. Climbing out of the head of the valley requires a bit of a bush bash. Four reasonably-tough hours should be enough to get you above the bushline where views of Scotts Knob (2160m) will be your reward.

Once on the Raglan Range, head south towards Bull Paddock Stream and descned to Bull Paddock Creek Hut, threading through bluffs, bypassing waterfalls, clinging to snowgrass, weaving through thickets of wild spaniard into the roiling reaches of the river, for your second night.

From the hut climb to the Raglan Range, aiming for apoin between Pt1828 and Pt1746. Once on the range, continue south, over Pt1828, and around to the obvious saddle at the head of Lost Stream. A straightforward sidle leads above a line of bluffs before a nerve-wracking descent down a broad spur – the bottom of which disappears from view. (NOTE, the GPX file associated with this trip is a best guess route. You must use your own observations and to find your way.)

Below the bluffs there is some scree-running down a rocky chute. Eventually you will arrive at a series of expansive river flats. Monumental landslides have carved out the beech forest here. The rock debris is scattered like dice over the valley floor. You may discover a dilapidated fly-camp on the way to Lost Steeam Bivouac. A rotting NZ Railways tarpaulin hangs from a timber frame and hundreds of rusted cans litter the vicinity.

A few cairns lead onto a high terrace, punctuated by ancient rock slides. Lost Stream Biv, another two-bunker, has a water tank.

The final day, or penultimate if you are really taking your time, involves a wak down Lost Stream, through enchanting beech forest on an easy DOC-maintained trail.

It will take about two hours to reach the Branch River, where the track climbs over a series of bluffs before Siberia Hut.

Beyond this shelter, the track evaporates, so splash downt eh river to a new wooden bridge (not shown on map). From here, there is a tedious three-hour walk along a disused vehicle track. A rickety swingbridge spans a gaping chasm to access Greigs Hut.

From here, walk out to your vehicle.

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