An easy off-trail hike through the tussock country of Ahuriri Conservation Park. Photo: By Myrthe Braam
From the car park near the mouth of Birch Creek, scout the Ahuriri River for a suitable crossing point and then find a way through the marshy terrain, aiming for a derelict musterer’s hut. The hut can be seen a few hundred metres away at the base of some bluffs and at a tributary of the Ahuriri.
There are two options from the hut: head clockwise or anticlockwise around the hill marked Pt1254 on the map. Heading clockwise is perhaps best, as it passes a lovely tarn at the northern end of the hill.
Traverse the base of Pt1254, heading north for 2km, crossing streams that can be dry in summer. After the third stream crossing, veer slightly left to avoid a small body of water, then circle back to round the hill and, shortly, the tarn.
Keep to the northern side of the tarn and continue east, trending south-east, for approximately 1km to Hideaway Hut.
Hideaway is thought to have been built in the 1890s and the corrugated iron walls still contain etchings of the names and dates of sheep musterers who have visited it. It’s a historic gem, home to mice. Fortunately, the area around the hut offers several tent sites, some of which are perfectly sheltered by a rock wall behind the hut.
Stony Peak (1845m) can be reached directly from the hut by climbing east and then veering north to an unnamed creek before aiming for the saddle near Pt1356. The steep climb rewards with views into the valley as well as across the Ahuriri River to the mountains of the Huxley Range.
At the saddle, the tussock ridge can be followed north-east for 1km to the base of the final climb to Stony Peak.
Here, loose scree replaces the tussock. This is the most difficult part of the route, especially as the scree gradually turns into bigger rock and boulders that slow upwards progress.
Stony Peak features a few rocky outcrops offering shelter from the wind. Views extend in all directions, including to the north-east where there’s a glimpse of Lake Ōhau.
From Stony Peak, the ridge is an easy amble, but be careful if the wind is strong. If so, dropping slightly off the ridge provides shelter.
Continue past Pt1740 and Pt1654 to reach the wide flat saddle below Pt1539. From here, the descent to the river is quick and easy, with just a bit of bush bashing involved at the very bottom.
Once back on the valley floor, it is 2km back to the hut, but due to the numerous stream crossings and bushes dotted around, travel can be slow.
From the hut, it’s back out the same way you came in.
- Total Ascent
- Car park to Hideaway Hut, 1.5-2hr; To Stony Peak, 2hr; To car park via Hideaway Hut, 4.5-6hr
- Hideaway Hut (free, six bunks)
- Birchwood Road from SH8. After crossing Birch Stream, turn right towards the river to find the car park
- Stony Peak (gpx, 19 KB)
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