Mungo River

(6 routes)

The hut and track network in the Mungo River and Upper Hokitika River, thanks to DOC and groups such as Permolat, is as good now as it has been for 20 years. This is a great place for friends of mixed abilities to plan a tramping and climbing adventure with opportunities for both. And there are hot pools.


The standard access into the upper Hokitika and Mungo Valleys is via Frew or Toaroha Saddle. There are also several higher passes over the Main Divide. The Hokitika Valley below the Mungo–Hokitika confluence is untracked and rugged, with thick vegetation. People paddle the river, but few travel it on foot.

-43.039160000000, 171.111803000000
Reference Title Grade Length Quality Bolts Gone Natural pro Link to edit content
Frew Hut to Mathias Pass via Frew Saddle
A track leads up into Frew Creek as marked. In the upper basin, travel is in the stream bed, climbing out on the true left at 1100 metres where the stream steepens into waterfalls. Frew Bivouac (DOC, two bunks) is just west of Frew Saddle. To reach Mathias Pass, descend from the north end of Frew Saddle to the upper Hokitika River and follow it up. Travel is easy, campsites exist and Mathias Pass is not difficult. Water is available near the pass.
Frew Saddle to Toaroha Saddle
From Frew Saddle descend north-east into the tussock basin of the upper Hokitika River. Judicious crossing will make travel quicker and easier, but it is also possible to stay on the true left and sidle small bands of speargrass and scrub. About 100 metres before Steadman Creek, climb up to the north on the true left over a tussock shoulder and, from here, markers sidle down valley to Bluff Hut (six bunks, woodburner), rebuilt by DOC in 2009 a few hundred metres south of its old location on an open shoulder. A marked track leads from Bluff Hut steeply down to the Hokitika River just below its confluence with the Mungo River, where DOC has built a new bridge to replace one destroyed a few years ago. A good track then leads up the Mungo to Poet Hut, (four bunks, open fire). From the small flat at Poet Hut, follow river boulders up to a gravel creek just before a slot gorge and pick up the track again. The track sidles past the Poet Footbridge and later climbs up to Toaroha Saddle Bivvy. Times : Frew Bivouac to Bluff Hut, 3 hrs ; Bluff Hut to Poet Hut, 3 ½ hrs ; Poet Hut to Toaroha Saddle Bivvy, 2–3 hrs
Poet Hut to Mungo headwaters
To access the upper Mungo, leave the track from Poet Hut to Toaroha Biv at about the 660-metre contour and follow the recently recut side track that leads to Saddle Creek and the Mungo riverbed. Travel up valley is then on bedrock, river boulders and gravel. When the river cuts in against bluffs on the true right and the valley is more open, cross to the true left. The riverbed on the true left is now used to the Mungo–Park forks. About 300 metres below Brunswick Creek there are hot spring seeps in sand, and 50 metres upstream of Brunswick Creek there is usually a hot pool on the true left of the Mungo in gravelly boulders. Brunswick Creek is swift and can be awkward to cross. There is a campsite on the true right of the creek, just above the forks. Good travel in Brunswick Creek gives easy access to Mungo Pass and some upper basins from which Main Divide peaks can be approached. Above the Mungo–Park forks, the Mungo River has a short gorge (directly south of Mungo Hut). A track up to Mungo Hut (four bunks) from the forks was recut by DOC in February 2009. Another track, from Mungo Hut via a creek bed back to the Mungo River, bypassing the gorge, was recut by volunteers in April 2009. Above here, the Mungo can be followed on gravel until under Hokitika Saddle. Park Stream is good travel all the way from the Mungo–Park forks to its head under Commodore Ridge. About 200 metres upstream from Sokota Creek a scree gully leads to the ridge between The Rampart and Pt 2006 metres. Times : Poet Hut to Mungo Hut, 3 hrs
Homeward Ridge to Sir Robert Hut
In its lower reaches, Sir Robert Creek is scrubby and seriously gorged. Sir Robert Hut is approached from Homeward Ridge. The Poet Footbridge gives access to the track up Homeward Ridge, or else the ridge can be accessed from the upper Hokitika River, up the spur on the true right of Steadman Creek. Descend to Sir Robert Hut from Homeward Ridge at J34 591932 / BV19 491 316 by following a rib due east overlooking a creek to the south. Around the scrub edge, descend towards this creek, reaching it at about the 980-metre contour. Follow the creek down. This creek is the first one marked on map sheets J34 and BV19 below Sir Robert Hut on the true left of Sir Robert Creek. Travel on up Sir Robert Creek is all gravel to its head.
Sir Robert Creek to Canyon Creek (Main Divide crossing)
From roughly the 1620-metre contour in Sir Robert Creek, head up the side basin towards Pt 1905 metres, swinging right then left onto rock rounds higher up. Continue on snow slopes to the saddle, and then traverse across snow, heading south on the Canyon Creek side, before descending the snow basin draining east from Pt 2042 metres. Travel is then on old snow and rock debris. Campsites can be found lower down the valley at 1300–1400 metres, among moss flushes and bedrock.
MAIN DIVIDE : Mathias Pass to Hokitika Saddle
Opportunities abound for enjoyable and moderately challenging transalpine and climbing trips on this section of the Main Divide. True, the peaks aren’t on the scale of those further south, the rock is at best variable, and there are only pockets of permanent ice, but the area has an isolated character of its own. You can get lost on the peaks here for a week or so, camp in alpine basins and – when it rains – retreat to a hut with a good chance of having the place to yourselves. Routes described here mainly include climbs approached from the Mungo River in the west. Most Divide peaks here have traditionally been approached from the Mathias and Wilberforce Valleys to the east.
Yvonne Cook and Geoff Spearpoint, in association with the Canterbury Mountaineering Club


Type Title Link to edit content
Pass Mathias Pass (0 routes)
Mountain Mt Tancred (2 routes)
Mountain Gerard Pk (2 routes)
Mountain Mt Notman (1 route)
Mountain Mt Stout (1 route)
Mountain Mt Bryce (4 routes)
Mountain Mt Treadwell (3 routes)
Pass Mungo Pass (0 routes)
Mountain Mt Park (1 route)
Mountain Mt Eliot (2 routes)
Pass Hokitika Saddle (1 route)
Range Diedrichs Range (5 routes)
Range Toaroha Range (3 routes)
Range Commodore Ridge (0 routes)