This tramp can be planned as a one or two night trip, as there are two huts. I suggest starting the tramp from the Ahuriri end as there is cell phone coverage at the Ohau Road but not anywhere in the Ahuriri Valley.
I got dropped off beside the last cattle stop before you get to the Birchwood Station Homestead. There is a grassy area to park cars, although no markings or signs from Doc. Proceed to follow the river down a couple of hundred metres where you will come a cross an “S” bend, the Ahuriri is crossable here at normal to slightly above normal flows.
There are no markers or poles through to Snowy Gorge Creek Hut or over to the Maitland Hut. After crossing the river, head over to Snowy Gorge Creek but don’t tramp up the creek itself, my mistake the first time I did this tramp! Go high on the true right. You cross two side creeks and finally reach a third, here you cross and follow up and over some volcanic rocks. Keep close to the edge of the bank and you will avoid the field of Spaniards. The hut is quite hard to spot as it is hidden behind a moraine wall. It should take you between 3 and 4 hours. It is a great 6 bunk hut with no fireplace as there is no wood anywhere! Magic views all round.
The next day I headed over the saddle (which is quite easy). From the top you can see right down the Maitland River Valley. Be careful to stay high on the true left of the creek as there are very bad Spaniard patches, even high there is plenty of dodging to do.
Once you hit the beech forest, the markers start, yippee! About 15 minutes into the forest you come to the Maitland Hut. Again, 6 bunks but there is a good fireplace for those chilly days and nights. Plenty of tenting spots around as well.
I choose not to stay here but had some lunch as I wanted to go out that day.
After lunch I proceeded to head out. The track crosses the river after about 20 minutes or so, can be a bit tricky here if the rivers up! After some up and down the track steadily climbs, crossing some big scree slopes until it joins an old farm road high on the true right of the Maitland River, easy going then. It took me a little less than 3 hours from the Maitland Hut. Some markers can be difficult to spot, particularly when the track follows the river bed earlier on.
I highly recommend the tramp, although it requires some route finding experience and a reasonable level of fitness. A wonderful part of our country!