The Rakaia and Rangitata rivers pose a natural barrier to Te Araroa's trampers in much the same manner as the Cook Straight does, but they also make natural beginning or end points for Te Araroa section trampers. It is really only through-trampers that have to deal with the issue of getting across these rivers. (The Te Araroa website has some travel suggestions and links to operators that may be able to provide assistance, and you can also contact the Methven i-SITE Visitor Centre for help).
This Te Araroa section between the Rakaia River and Lake Heron uses public access easements over Glenariffe Station then crosses the 60,000 hectare Hakatere Conservation Park.
The track follows markers up the true right side of Glenrock Stream. Walking is straightforward and up-stream the route merges with a farm track.
From the Hakatere Conservation Area boundary the route continues up the farm track to Turtons Saddle at 1120m. Beyond the saddle travel is through Turtons Basin down the true left of Turtons Stream and in the direction of Comyns Hut. There is a tidy 4-bunk A-framed hut not shown on some maps situated near Comyns Stream, a short distance back from the Turtons Stream confluence. It takes about an hour from the saddle to reach this hut.
Continue down Turtons Stream for an hour and a half and descend into Mutton Gully. Cross Turtons Stream where markers direct. From here it's just a few minutes to Comyns Hut (8 bunks).
The current Comyns Hut was built in 1957 to replace the original and derelict hut that was built in the 1890s and still stands nearby. The hut is basic but was improved following restoration work in 2008. The hut walls act as an informal and historic register and make interesting reading.
Te Araroa Glenariffe Easment
From the hut the marked route heads west up Round Hill Creek. This section is fairly confined and involves frequent river crossings but these are straightforward in normal flows.
The track departs Round Hill Stream near the Logan Stream confluence and ascends towards Clent Hills Saddle (1480m). On a clear day the saddle affords great views of the Longman Range, Ricki Spur and the wider Lake Heron Basin.
The walk down from the saddle towards Double Hut follows marker poles and takes 3 or more hours. Double Hut has 6 bunks and is in reasonable condition.
The track returns to cross the Swin River gravel flats and descends gently on the true right bank towards Lake Hill and the carpark, which is at the end of a metalled side road leading off the Hakatere Heron Road.
Te Araroa Double Hut to Lake Emily