May is probably the last practical month to undertake this three- or four-day tramp before winter and spring turn the approaches to Mt Martha Saddle into an avalanche path. Even so, any recent dump of snow will make conditions difficult.
Birchwood Rd carpark to Top Timaru Hut – 23 km.
Follow the marked route to Avon Burn, ford the burn and head up the farm track to Mt Martha Saddle (1680m). An unmarked bulldozer track then takes you down to Top Timaru Hut, just refurbished by DOC.
Top Timaru Hut to Stodys Hut – 14.5 km.
Progress is slow on a marked track that sidles along the true left of a steep valley, through to a grassy spot 2.5 km downstream. The 7 km stretch ahead has a dozen river crossings, straightforward in normal flows, and emerges at the Breast Hill Track/Timaru River Track junction. The track then climbs steeply to Stodys Hut.
Stodys Hut via Pakituhi Hut to Gladstone Reserve – 16.5 km.
The ridge route follows an old farm track with Mt Aspiring standing out to the west. A foul weather route departs to the left before the track reaches the Breast Hill summit (1578 m) but press on to the summit and you look down on Lake Hawea township 1200 m below, and the Wanaka Basin beyond. This is Te Araroa’s memorable entry into Otago.
The track hugs a fenceline down to the new 8-bunk Pakituhi Hut (1300 m). The track then descends along the ridgeline to a small saddle, before zigzaging down a steep face to the road and the nearby reserve.