- Hinerua hut ($5, 4 bunks), Waterfall hut ($5, 6 bunks)
- From Mill Road end via Ashley Clinton
It’s long day’s walk to Waterfall Hut, an historic hut at the head of the Kawhatau River and located on a beautiful sand bank at the confluence of Waterfall and Pinnacle creeks.
The beginning of the track drops to the Tukituki River, crossing it several times before reaching the shelter of the forest where the climb begins to Hinerua Ridge and to the four-bunk Hinerua Hut.
From Hinerua Hut, climb a spur to join Broken Ridge and then walk the tops to Paemutu, 1682m. A tussock-covered ridge reveals the dramatic windswept landscape and rugged beauty of the country.
Broken Ridge deserves its name for the narrow knife-edge of rotten crumbling rock just north of Paemutu. The ridge here narrows until it becomes nothing more than a thin line between two scree slopes where cliffs drop 500m to the valley floor. The trail leads around several rocky outcrops with daunting exposure.
The gradient of the spur leading into the Kawhatau River becomes steeper and more slippery. Follow it down, avoiding false trails leading onto steep, gravel-on-rock faces. Gradually, the spur widens and at the final knob halfway down Paemutu, the going becomes easier.
Once at Waterfall Hut, an alternate route back goes up the Kawhatau River, which climbs more directly to Paemutu. But if the prospect of getting wet feet doesn’t appeal, retrace your steps back to the beginning.