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Otehake River

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Taruahuna Pass to Taramakau River via Otehake River


Once on Taruahuna Pass, bear somewhat right on the landslide debris towards the foot of the slopes below Tarn Col, and pick a way down towards the headwaters of the Otehake River West Branch. This involves traversing down some rough but easy terraces. Skirt the green tarn to the left. Carry on down the river until it begins to drop away between high shingle banks on both sides. From here, keep to the terraces on the true left using defined tracks through the bush where the bush cover extends to the brink of cliffs. Descend an open, grassy terrace and drop into the riverbed at the point where the first major side stream joins the Otehake River. This is about 2 hours from the summit of the pass. Ford this side stream and continue down the riverbed on the true left for about 15 minutes, towards the point where the bush-clad banks draw together. Pick up the marked trail on the true left and follow it for about 30 minutes to the Otehake Hut, just above the confluence with the Otehake River East Branch.
From the hut downstream, this author would not recommend the route to anyone with a mountaineering pack on their back. It is generally untracked, with huge rises to avoid gorges, bluffs, and dense vegetation. The route (if that’s what you call it) sticks to the true left the entire way to Lake Kaurapataka. This would take the most persistent party about 6 hours. A well-defined trail then follows the lake edge and down Lake Creek to the Pfeifer Creek junction, then onwards to Taramakau River. From here it is 2–3 hours out to Highway 73 at Aickens.
Total time from Otehake Hut is about 12 hours (on a good day!).

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