- Ashley River to Tarn Hut, 4-4.5hr; Tarn Hut to Youngman Stream Hut, 2.5-3hr, Youngman Stream Hut to road, via Ashley River track, 4-5hr
- Youngman Stream Hut ($5, six bunks), Tarn Hut (free, four bunks)
- From Oxford, take Lee Valley Road to the signposted Youngman Stream access 4WD vehicle track, which leads for 3.5km to the signposted track start
Lying north of the inland expanses of the Lees Valley, the Puketeraki Forest Conservation Area covers 6750ha and boasts two huts. Both can be linked on a lovely two to three day circuit.
From the 4WD access road, a marked route goes up the Ashley River, climbs onto the tops of Lilburne Hill (1405m), and leads to Tarn Hut (four bunks). Then there’s a pleasant amble over Lilburne Hill, down through stunted mossy mountain beech, to the Ashley River. Mountain beech trees flecked with lichen rise on one ridge above the Ashley River, while tawny grasses flank the opposite bank, marking the location for the six-bunk Youngman Stream Hut.
Built in 1975, Youngman Stream is one of the younger Forest Service huts, and thanks to efforts by DOC and New Zealand Alpine Club volunteers, it’s been recently tidied up and freshly painted. A good wood-burner and plenty of dead wood nearby make it a cosy overnight destination – even in the depths of winter.
From there, the route heads downstream, starting with a bit of a goat track that sidles high to avoid a gorgy section and ends with an easy wander along flatter terrain back to the car park.