Hours km

To continue along the all-weather track, cross the swing bridge in front of the hut, then follow the track as it begins a steep climb towards a saddle on a forested ridge, allowing you to bypass a large bend in the Whakatane River. The track levels off briefly on top and then descends rapidly on the other side. An hour or so from the hut you should return to the river at a spot called Maru Maru.

Once on the Whakatane River the track follows the true right side for 4.5km, until it reaches the bridge over the Waikare River. The valley is steep in many places, so there is quite a bit of climbing to do. In some places it cuts through grassy terraces, where it might be difficult to see the track, although the route is well marked with orange metal tags.

If the weather is good and water levels are normal, an easier and more pleasant route is to drop to the Whakatane once you have crossed the saddle. By following and fording the river at appropriate places, you will avoid the bluffs and still arrive at the junction of the Whakatane and Waikare Rivers, where a sign points the way back up the bank to the swing bridge. If you can follow the river you can reach the confluence in two hours from Hanamahihi Hut.

Near the bridge is a sign explaining that the Waikare Junction Hut has been shifted and is now 25 minutes away on the all-weather track. The time is a little misleading - in fact, it may be the most

Whakatane-Waikare River

1:125,000 0 10Om Contour Interval 0

(Alternative Finish misleading track sign in New Zealand. Once over the swing bridge you begin a very steep climb as the track ascends around the bluff at the confluence. This is a knee-bending, two-rest climb. The only consolation is an immense view of the upper Whakatane valley.

The track drops quickly from the top, crosses a terrace (do not drop back down to the river), passes through a stand of bush and reaches Waikare Junction Hut

(eight bunks). Most people need 40 minutes to one hour to reach the hut from the confluence.

The hut sits on a grassy terrace, 50m above the river bed. From its veranda you can enjoy a superb panorama of the upper portion of the river, made even more spectacular by a sunset on a clear night.

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