The start of the track to Pakihi Hut is situated at the end of Otara Road leading from Opotiki. Take State Highway 2 to Gisbourne out of Opotiki and after less than 1 km bear left on to Otara Road. Follow this road to reach the start of the track (sign-posted). Note the last few kilometres of the road is only suitable for four wheel drive vehicles.
From the sign-post follow the easy track along the true left of the Pakihi Stream. Ignore the private swing bridge to the private settlement on the other side of the stream.
We started our tramp on a lovely sunny Saturday morning. The week had been full of beautiful clear sunny days and we were hoping the weather would carry on into the weekend. We left the car at a small parking area near the track sign-post and put on our packs and set off into the Urutawa.
The first item of interest was a private swing bridge across the Pakihi Stream to a number of houses on the other side of the stream. It looked like a lovely spot to live.
We carried along the track, which never went very far from the stream and occasionally we had lovely views along the valley. There were some fine specimens of Nikau Palms along the track side too.
There had been some bad weather recently which had caused damage on a number of tracks in the area. This track was no exception and after about an hour we reached an impassable slip on the track. After an unsuccessful attempt to skirt above and around the slip, we eventually had to drop down to the river. We found our way back up to the track some 50 metres further along past the slip.
Along the track we reached a stunning waterfall, where we had a quick lunch before progressing on to the hut.
About 30 minutes from the hut, the track drops to cross the Pakihi Stream. The track continues on the true right and just before the hut you reach a junction, the track to the right leads to the hut. The main track continues on to the Old Motu Road at Whitikau.
Although it took us almost five hours to reach the hut, with a clear track, it could be reached in about three. It's the usual standard, six bunk hut, although there is a log burner here, rather than the more commonplace open-fire.
Another tramping option would be to follow the short track from the hut down to the Pakihi Stream, then walk upstream to another track which leads up the first side-creek on the true left and over a ridge to the Te Waiti Hut. From the hut you could walk out via the Te Waiti Stream which leads back to the Otara Road. With a bit of transport shuffling you could make a very pleasant three day tramp in the area.
However, our return route was simply to retrace our steps from the previous day back to the start of the track.
We've rated this track easy-medium due to the amount of debris on the track and the big slip. However with a clear track it would definitely be a pleasant easy tramp.