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Xenicus Peak via Fenella Hut, Kahurangi National Park

Xenicus Peak. Photo: Steven Strachan
Kahurangi National Park
5.5-6.5hr one way
Fenella Hut, 12 bunks; Cob Hut, four bunks; Trilobite Hut, 12 bunks
From Upper Takaka, take Cobb Dam Road to the car park at the head of Cobb Reservoir
BP23, BP24
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From Trilobite Hut at the road end, set off up the valley, following the Cobb River. An easy 90-minute walk brings you to the beautifully restored Chaffeys Hut.

Continue to Cobb Hut, then climb a series of glacier-worn rocky steps, eventually topping out on a low ridge and arriving at Fenella Hut. Looking out the hut windows, the foreground is dominated by a great lump of rock called Xenicus Peak, which appears to have been named after the rock wren, Xenicus gilviventris, which was conspicuous by its absence.

Follow the well-worn track up valley to a small but much visited tarn. The track rounds the northern end of the tarn and heads in an arc back towards Lake Cobb and drops down into a hollow where a pole off to the right marks the beginning of the route up to Xenicus. A series of cairns marks the way along sloping rock slabs, traversing the front of the peak and dodging in and out of stunted beech forest.

At the end of this traverse, the trail emerges into a tussock-filled gully that leads up the western flank of Xenicus, eventually reaching a low saddle and the ridge that leads to the summit – almost a complete circle. Though relatively easy travel, it takes a while to do.

An old orange track marker indicates the beginning of a steep and reasonably rough route up a spur involving a fair bit of clambering over rocky outcrops amongst the beech and dracophyllum. A short while later you’ll emerge on to the tussock covered face of Xenicus. The climb isn’t as difficult as it looks from lower down, with the only challenge being the last rocky ridge to the summit.

This involves more scrambling over great blocks of stone, with some exposure, and then you’re on top.From here there are great views of Lake Cobb, Mt Gibbs, the Dragons Teeth and the Cobb Valley.