The distance between the track ends is a problem. If you have two vehicles, you could place one at either end of the track. Walking as two parties from opposite directions would then be the simplest solution (don't forget to exchange keys!). The party on the Barrytown side would have a slightly harder walk. Walking in to Ces Clarke Hut from the Blackball Road and returning the same way would be a most worthwhile alternative. There are a number of side trips and a detour section to provide some variety. There is public transport to the Barrytown track end.

The Garden Gully Battery. • By matthew.


From Blackball a road runs northwest out of town. Take the right branch at an intersection after 1km. Travel is slow along this rough, stony, single lane road. A car park is situated at the end of the road, and the Croesus Track begins as a wedge cut out of the hillside.

Blackball Road Car Park-Ces Clarke Memorial Hut: 3 hr, easy

The track enters bush and becomes the smooth, wide, benched track typical of old tramways, soon crossing Smoke-ho Creek on a swingbridge. It is about 30 minutes travel from the car park to the first hotel site (1868), a clearing suitable for camping. Clarke Creek and Blackball Creek are nearby, and another 30 minutes travel leads to a junction. The trail to the left visits Mulcares Creek mill and battery site. The second hotel site (1898) is located immediately after this junction. Camping here amongst the toe toes is also possible.

After less than an hour's walk, you will come upon a junction in the forest. It is worthwhile to drop your packs and follow the side track a couple of minutes to Garden Gully Hut, which is cute but barely habitable.

There is, however, excellent flat, grassy camping in this picturesque clearing. From here the side track continues across a swingbridge for 15 minutes to a junction. It is 20 minutes to the mine site (above) or 5 minutes to the quartz battery site (below). The Garden Gully Battery (1905) is in good condition and well worth a visit.

A final hour's travel through rata and mountain neinei takes you to the new Ces Clarke Hut. Ten minutes before the hut, the track breaks out onto a shrubbery near the sub-alpine border. A fire some time ago cleared the rata forest, leaving only dead, gnarled, white trunks standing. The hut is small but attractive, with large windows providing a view back along the valley toward Blackball and over the Grey River. Top Hut is the shack just before the new hut.

Ces Clarke Memorial Hut-Barrytown: 4 hr, easy + tops travel

Grasshopper sunbathing near Ces Clarke Memorial Hut. • By matthew.

The track climbs from the hut over the Paparoa tops. These frequently become shrouded in mist later in the day, so an early start may be wise. Soon after departing the hut, Lake Margaret is revealed nestled on the valley floor. The track winds through alpine vegetation past a side track to Croesus Knob and past Mount Ryall, providing good views north and south. The long descent to the coast from Mount Ryall soon plunges the track into a low, gnarled, mossy beech forest, 1½ hours from the hut. The spur followed by the track climbs briefly at around 800m, but is otherwise a continuous descent. The track becomes vague after a further 1½ hours, suddenly resolving itself into a benched track, an old mining tramway. The tramway wanders for an hour gently down to the road through coastal forest, with supplejack, tree ferns and nikau palms prominent. The track bursts from the bush directly onto the highway. Remember to look both ways as you cross to the Barrytown Tavern situated directly opposite.