Image: Jess Simson | DOC
For directions from Makarora Township to Kerin Forks Hut refer to Gillespie Pass Circuit.
Time: 7 to 10 hours
The track begins behind the hut, passes through beech forest beside the Wilkin and over a number of slips and steep-sided ravines that require care. It comes out at the mouth of Wonderland Stream – halfway between the two huts and a good place for lunch.
From here the track re-enters the forest, climbs, then sidles above the river before descending to Jumboland. Note, on map BZ12 Jumboland is incorrectly marked.
On Jumboland flats the river has cut into the bank and a section of track has been washed away. The high river option on the true right requires forcing your way through unmarked scrub. This detour may add 1 to 2 hours onto the tramping time between Kerin Forks and Top Forks currently listed in brochures and on signage.
The 16-bunk Top Forks Hut is above the junction, on the true right of the Wilkin’s south branch.
Times: Lake Diana – 1 hr, Lake Lucidus – 1 hr 30 min, Lake Castalia - 3 - 4 hr
The North Branch is an excellent day trip. The track crosses the South Branch in front of the Top Forks Hut and follows the North Branch. Most of this section requires boulder hopping – slippery if wet – then crosses a small side stream that can be tricky to ford.
The track enters the forest and climbs a predominant spur between the side stream and the North Branch to emerge at a small lake, the Disappearing Tarn. Five minutes further, just south of the track, Lake Diana nestles in sub alpine vegetation. Lake Lucidus, a spectacular moraine lake, is 20 minutes away across the grasslands.
The track to Lake Castalia branches off the Lake Lucidus track just beyond the boardwalk. It crosses the outlet stream, then the North Branch, to climb through alpine vegetation then re-cross the North Branch to a snow grass terrace leading to Lake Castalia’s outlet. Take care scrambling over loose rock in the last 200 m.
Note: There is a 2-3 hour side trip up the Wonderland Valley that you can take on your way from Kerin Forks Hut or Top Forks Hut, details below.
Time: 2 - 3 hr
An interesting day trip. Although there isn’t a marked track, by keeping to the true left of the Wonderland stream, parts of the old cattle track can be followed through the forest, sidling 30 to 50 m above the stream. Above the bush the valley opens out into beautiful alpine herb fields.
Adverse weather: The weather can change rapidly in New Zealand. Hypothermia is a real risk even in summer. Be prepared by having warm, windproof clothing and the appropriate footwear. Whiteout conditions caused by snow or low cloud may be present.
Unbridged rivers: There are river and stream crossings that become hazardous in heavy rain or snowmelt. Be prepared to turn back.
Be avalanche alert: This area has terrain that can produce avalanches that cross the track, usually from May into November. View avalanche information and the terrain rating for this track.
Before you go into the outdoors, tell someone your plans and leave a date to raise the alarm if you haven't returned. To do this, use the New Zealand Outdoors Intentions process on the AdventureSmart website. It is endorsed by New Zealand's search and rescue agencies and provides three simple options to tell someone you trust the details about your trip.