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Mungo River


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. 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.

POINT (171.111803 -43.03916)

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.
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.
Mungo River to Toaroha Saddle
From the confluence of the Hokitika and Mungo Rivers a good track 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.
Bluff Hut (Hokitika River) to Poet Hut, 3 ½ hrs
Poet Hut to Toaroha Saddle Bivvy, 2–3 hrs
Sir Robert Creek
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 980m 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.
Upper Mungo valley
Leave the track from Poet Hut to Toaroha Biv at about the 660m 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 300m below Brunswick Creek there are hot spring seeps in sand, and 50m upstream of Brunswick Creek there is usually a hot pool on the true left of the Mungo in gravelly boulders.
Poet Hut to Mungo Hut, 3 hrs
Brunswick Creek
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.
Mungo headwaters
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
Park Stream is good travel all the way from the Mungo–Park forks to its head under Commodore Ridge. About 200m upstream from Sokota Creek a scree gully leads to the ridge between The Rampart and Pt 2006m.

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Yvonne Cook and Geoff Spearpoint,
in association with the Canterbury Mountaineering Club