Turn off State Highway 1 into Parsons Rd, north of Kaikōura. Park near the main Hapuku ford. It is easy riverbed travel to the start of the gorge. In a big flood, the river sometimes carries down enough shingle to completely fill the gorge, but normally it is best to cross to the true right bank to pick up the marked track at a shingle terrrace. The track sidles high above the gorge to a track junction. The right-hand track descends to the west branch of the Hapuku, just west of the junction with the north branch. The left-hand track sidles further upstream before descending to the west branch of the river.
A marked track in the west branch leads to Hapuku Hut (6 bunks, standard) situated on a terrace on the true right bank (O31 638 815 / BT27 538 198) and on to Kowhai Saddle and the Kowhai River.
The riverbed in the north branch can be followed to Surveyor Spur and the normal route to Manakau. Further upstream, the old Barratts Hut and bivvy are buried under a large landslip, which has also destroyed an alternative route onto the spur.