Mt Brown BonanzaExperienced
Submitted by Tony Sharpe
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Back country - remote
Native bushRiversideLakesideOpen tussock/grasslandsOpen ridges/tops
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This one is for those adventurous types who like going steep in the bush and then getting the reward of the tops. If you are not familiar with the West Coast you may wish to try some other easier routes before tackling this one, but that's not to say its impossible for anyone with the right attitude and a love for steep tree rooty climbs.
The track starts nice and steadily from Geologist Creek and is well marked, and usually pretty well maintained. Before long things start getting steep and you'll spend the next few hours doing very little running and a great deal of walking and clambering up using all four limbs in true 'monkey mode'. The track is maintained by the local volunteer "Permolat' group and when you look around the dense West Coast bush surrounds you will be extremely thankful for their work, especially as you get nearer the bushline and into the scrub zone.
Eventually the trail gains a defined ridge as you near the bushline and you'll emerge into a tussock basin. Skirt a small hillock and clamber up the final few contour lines following the poled route and you'll find yourself at Mt Brown Hut. This hut was fully rebuilt from material down valley in the Arahura in the early 2010's by the local community with the support of DOC. Its a wonderful location and the hut has featured in many photos, calendars, and graces the cover of the marvellous Shelter From The Storm book by tramping legends Rob Brown, Shaun Barnett and Geoff Spearpoint. The views from the hut and surrounds are nothing short of magnificent.
Return route is to either retrace your steps the same way to Geologist Creek, or carry on down into the Styx Valley via the poled and marked Styx Route. This route is a little longer and more demanding than the way you have come up, but is a good option if you hate backtracking. Note however river crossings are required once down in the valley going this way, and it floods easily. If in any doubt with the weather then go down the Geologist Creek route.
If tackling the Styx route then follow the poles away from Mt Brown Hut until you regain the bush/ scrub. A large orange triangle marks the entrance and for a stretch its quite boggy and skirts the foot of a slip or two. The route can be a little sketchy so make sure you have the GPX with you. Its a steep descent down a spur with some forested terraces as you near the river. Once down follow the river, some wading required, and pick up an old 4WD track which will take you back to the main road. Complete the loop back to Geologist Creek on the road.
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Features of interest
The Mt Brown Hut, which is a wonderful asset developed by the local community using local can do spirit
Make Up of Run
Untracked / Route only: 10%
Technical Single Track: 70%
Gravel Road: 20%
Head into Lake Kanierie from Hokitika. Park up by Geologist Creek and cut loose from there.
Small car parking area just off the road at the trail head at Geologist Creek
You'll need a map, gps and some good routefinding ability at times.
Waterproof leggings, Thermal leggings, Lightweight fleece top, Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Windproof 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, Crampons / microspikes (for winter conditions), Gaiters.
Being the West Coast there's quite a few creeks if its been raining. Water also at Mt Brown Hut, but you'll get through a bit so take a good sized hydration system!
Snow in winter, storms can suddenly develop quickly. Its the West Coast, be prepared for all eventualities
Styx River area can flood fast, avoid in heavy rain. Although I'm not sure any of the trip is that enjoyable in heavy rain so check the forecast!
Post run indulgence
Hokitika has a few good cafes and bars and restaurants
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