• Manakau
  • 2608 m
  • Primary factor 1798 m
  • New Zealand, South island.
  • Location: South 42.22502, East 173.61731 (GPS on the summit)
  • Difficulty: YDS class 3
  • Climbed January 2. 2015.


How to get there:
From Christchurch, drive north on Hwy. 1 to the tourist village of Kaikoura. Continue a short distance further north on Hwy. 1 and turn left (signed) to Hapuku River car park. This is the trailhead, location S42.30463, E173.69157, elevation about 120 meter.
This is a quick summary and reference to climbs made on this trip.
Route description:
To Barratts Bivvy.
The trail immediately descends to the river. An alternative is to follow the road a short way, fork right, cross a smaller river on stepping stones and arrive at the main river crossing (more stepping stones). The route follows the river upstream, first on the right hand side. Also, for a while, one may follow a section that short-cuts a bend following a branch that stays largely dry (except when the river floods). Higher up, the route crosses to the opposite side, if lucky one may find a place where one may hop across suitable boulders.
Finally, the route enters a more distinct gorge and here one will need to cross the river twice. These crossings are non-trivial, the best and safest approach is to get wet and cross safely without any risky jumps.
Follow the trail that climbs steeply up from the left side of the river (when looking upstream). This trail crosses a hill and then descnds to a trailfork with good signs. Go left and descend to a fork of the river. Next, proceed downstream to the next fork and turn left. The route is partially marked with cairns, but involves several crossings that may be tricky. Care is absolutely important. There is a cairn that shows a shortcut (going left) a bit before the river fork. Cross over and descend to the river which now must be followed upstream. There are several cairns, but also some degree of variation. The route involves several crossings, partially very difficult terrain, some scrambling across big boulders and overall terrain that requires stamnia, balance and persistence. Finally, one arrives at the arera from where one may see Stace Saddle up on the left, while continuing upstream, bending right along the right hand side of the river. The remaining distance to Barratts Bivy is now quite short and the trail is generally better and easier to follow than most of the way to this point. The location S42.24389, E173.67159, elevation about 770 meter, is some open grass right next to the two huts that are somewhat hidden among the trees. The huts are pretty miserable, unless you have heavy rain, then staying out on the grass is likely better.
Summit climb.
From Barratts Bivy return, this is quite a (super) long summit day. One should really establish camp higher up, but lack of water is an issue. Earlier in the season is perhaps better with snowpatches that may be used to melt water.
From Barratts Bivy, first return back down along the river, you will soon see the scree that runs down the hillside from the distinct Stace Saddle. Ascend here, the footing is easier on the left hand side. From Stace Saddle, location S42.24772, E173.65927, elevation about 1050 meter, follow a pretty good trail up the ridge (right). The route turns into more scree and shorter stretches with pretty loose, rocky terrain higher up, after a steepish step with tall, possibly slippery grass. Manakau is now very visible off to the left, that is, the route makes a big left turn higher up. Stay on the ridge and gain a flat plateau with some larger boulders at S42.23355, E173.65227, elevation about 1960 meter. This is obviously a good place to camp if there is still some snow left (before Chistmas?).
Continue uphill on more gentle slopes and cross over the next local top, then to the saddle behind. From here, one may do a traverse left (pic: looking back) aiming for the (low) saddle on the ridge that will eventually lead to the summit of Manakau. This is a bit loose and fairly steep, caution should be exersized. It may pay to aim for a reasonable point higher up (right) on the target ridge, then descend to the saddle from there (easy scrambling).
From this key saddle (location S42.22302 E173.64624, elevation about 2110 meter), the remaining route follows the top ridge to the summit. This ridge is rougher with many local spires and gendarmes. There are some obvious (local) bypass options, but basically, the route stays close to the top ridge. This section has several spots with (YDS) class 3 climbing, but the difficulties remain within this class on the correct route. Finally, one passes a nice and prominent local top (easy scrambling), then a more gentle and smooth ridge is what remains in order to reach the true summit.
We drove from Christchurch and had a nice lunch in Kaikoura. Thus it was 1420 when we started our hike. Quite a tough hike, getting soaked in an unsuccessful attempt to jump the river down by the gorge. I think most everybody were tired when reaching the Barratt Bivy site at 2035. The hut was occupied and did not look very appealing, we slept outside in the grass.
The next morning, we were on our way at 0720. The day should turn out to be longer and harder than anyone really expected. The day turns out to be sunshine and blue sky, quite hot, this is bad news for our water supply. Gaining elevation above Stace Saddle, the valley is already far below us. I normally do a long summit day with one litre of water, not in this terrain and with this heat. We gained the flat plateau where one may camp earlier in the season, when there is still some snow to be found. Pushing onwards, we crossed over the next hump, traversed left on loose ground and finally hit the ridge that would get us to the summit. Still, a long way to go. We gained a more level section of the ridge and fortunately, spotted some snow. This a snow patch very high on the mountain, supplied a drizzle of water that På:l collected with some patience.
We make the 1950 plateau by 1145, what remains is a very long way and we understand that this will indeed be a tough day. We make the summit at 1550, there is, in fact, a high probability that it will be dark before we are off the ridge. However, progress is quite good on the return hike. We follow the same route (more or less), then have a long scree run below the 1950 plateau that gets us off to the right hand side. A tiny ledge connects back to the ridge as we continue, now on the tiny trail. The evening light is nice and the views are good, will we get back down before dark? We are back down at the bivy site at 2100, just as the sun sets!
The next morning, we start at 0825 and pick a slightly better route down along/across the river. We are back at the car by 1355. This climb is indeed quite long and when we did it, a main issue is the lack of water above Barratt Bivy.