IntroductionExperienced trampers can walk to the 4-bunk Makarora Hut, taking in the Stewart Falls along the way.
The upper Makarora Valley opens out into long grassy flats that lead to an impressive basin at the foot of Mount Brewster. Cross the river at Davis Flat to the steep climb beside Stewart Falls or gain access via the ‘high river’ track on the true left of the road bridge.
Above the falls, the track sidles above the gorge – slippery when wet – before traversing and descending a large unstable slip to a small river flat. Continue through small open flats, forest and slips to the main valley flat. From here the track is unmarked to the four-bunk Makarora Hut, about 50 minutes away; on the true left at the northern end of the flat, close to the bush edge.
A three-hour day trip, from the hut to the basin at the head of the valley is recommended. It’s an unmarked track that’s normally partially covered in ice, coming down from Mount Brewster’s upper slopes. Accessed along the river, two gorges must be by-passed – take the true right to sidle around the first gorge, and the true left for the second.
The weather can change rapidly in New Zealand. Hypothermia is a real risk even in summer. Be prepared by having warm, waterproof, windproof clothing and the appropriate footwear. Whiteout conditions caused by snow or low cloud may be present. Check the Mount Aspiring National Park weather forecast – NIWA website.
Be avalanche alert: This area has terrain that can produce avalanches that cross the track, usually from May into November. View avalanche information.
Crossing rivers: If you plan to cross an unbridged river, you must know how to identify an unsafe river, and where and how to cross safely. You should also be prepared for being unable to cross.
If the river is flooded, you cannot find safe entry and exit points or are unsure it’s safe, do not try to cross. Turn back or wait for the river to drop - this often takes a few hours after rain, so be ready and pack emergency shelter and extra food.
A river is unsafe if there is:
- discoloured water
- debris in the water (such as branches)
- water flowing faster than walking pace
- movement of rocks in the water you can hear
Learn more about river safety on the NZ Mountain Safety Council website.