Run Rabbit RunVery Experienced
Submitted by Mike Steel
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Back country - remote
Point to Point (one way)
Native bushRiversideOpen tussock/grasslandsOpen ridges/tops
Not Suitable (Slow)
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This classic and awesome 63km wilderness tramp through Aspiring Natiional Park can be done as a day run, but only under ideal summertime conditions, with low rivers, no low snow, fine settled weather and adequate care and preparation. Even then it's a big day out and a committing run. Start at first light, carry extra gear (including a torch and extra food) and read Moirs Guide.
Cross the swingbridge across the West Matukituki and take the East Matukituki track and start the long but stunning run up the remote East Matukituiki valley (with occasional wire bridges across side-streams) to Junction Flat, up and over the high bypass of Bledisloe gorge to Ruth Flat (where you can marvel at the impressive East Face of Mt Fastness), and follow occasional poles/cairns up valley. Provided the weather is still fine carry on up the zig-zag route onto the steep and spectacular Rabbit Pass. This leads into delightful hanging valley which finishes abruptly as you approach the notorious 'Waterfall Face'. The descent of this steep, exposed face of grassy bluffs requires care (the first marker pole is up well out to the true left of the face), though it's going to be easier than if you had a tramping pack on (take extreme care if it's wet - if in doubt turn back).
Once down, at Waterfall Flat, a rough track leads through scrub above gorges before dropping down to Top Flats Hut. From here there is a long, cruisy run across open river flats and bush to Kerin Forks Hut. Some distance below the hut, find a suitable braided place to cross the Wilkin and run out the last dozen or so km mostly down the true left of the river and tracks to the Makarora, dinner and beer.
Next day it's a nice bike ride back (~110km) to the car beside the lakes, and via Wanaka. Just after Gledhu Bay, it's worth tossing the tent etc into scrub by the road for later pickup so you don't need to bike it the last 40km, much of which is gravel.
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Features of interest
Impressive cirques and hanging glaciers, remote valleys, spectacular pass. Good running on the way out.
Make Up of Run
Untracked / Route only: 30%
Technical Single Track: 40%
Moderate Single Track: 30%
Although this route is normally tramped from the Makarora to the East Matukituki, as a run (+bike return) it also works well in reverse, so this is how it is described here. Drive to Makarora: you need to leave bike, sleeping bag, and tent here and arrive with enough daylight to check out the Makarora River. Find a reliable crossing site (may be 2km or so south of the DOC visitor centre, who may advise on the currently best spots). You need to be confident you can locate it (and the campsite) from the other side on the return, even in the dark! The river needs to be low. Drive early next morning to Wanaka and head towards Raspberry Flat but park near the swingbridge that leads into the East Matukituki (or drive there the night before and bivy by the car leaving the tent back in Makarora).
Space to park (note this is well before the big Raspberry Flat parking area).
Take extreme care in the area near Rabbit Pass.
Thermal leggings, Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Gloves, Beanie/thermal headwear, Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival bag, Cellphone, Compass, Map, Headtorch and spare batteries.
Plenty of water the whole way.
Only feasible as a run for a fairly short period (mid summer- early autumn), and then only in fine weather.
Note that there are no huts in the East Matukituki so you are on your own there. Take care on Rabbit Pass and descending the Waterfall face, and particular care crossing the Makarora River at the end since you're likely to be a bit tired (suss out where to cross it the day before, and carry head-torches in case you run out of daylight). Be prepared to turn back before Rabbit Pass/Waterfall face. And take a buddy to share the fun - it's probably not a good run to do by yourself!
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