Trip Ideas

Brewster Hut
Green Lake
Mt Titiroa
Hopkins Valley
Tautuku Biv
Staircase Hut
Brodrick Hut
Glade/Dore Pass
Mueller Hut
Luxmore Hut
Copland Hot Pools
Long Beach Rock Climbing
Big Hut
Routeburn Falls
Gertrude Saddle
Canyon Creek
French Ridge Hut

Brewster Hut (Mt Aspiring National Park)

Grade: Easy – Moderate

Time of year: All year round, but beware of winter snow conditions

Accommodation: 12 bunk, serviced hut, no fireplace but very nice. $15.30pp/night or an Annual Backcountry Hut Pass

Friday night: Camping at Cameron Flat on SH 6 just past Makarora, toilet facilities and running water, $6.10pp/ night an Annual Backcountry Hut Pass

Route: 3 hour tramp straight up 900 meters. The trip starts with a river crossing (2minutes in) but it is sometimes possible to keep your feet dry. The track to the hut is easy to follow but there is some exposure above the bush line.

Directions: South on SH1 until just past Milton, turn right onto SH 8 and follow through Alexandra and on until just past Cromwell, turn north onto SH 6 and continue through Wanaka and on towards Haast until you reach the car park (just over Haast Pass), which is on the right side of the highway at Fantail Creek. Takes around 4.5 hours.

Related trips:

Mt Armstrong: behind Brewster hut, a good beginner mountaineering trip will need to use ice axe and crampons in winter (sometimes in late autumn through to early summer).

Mt Brewster: more advanced mountaineering trip. Check a guidebook for advice and route.

Green Lake Hut (Fiordland National Park)

Top of the page

Grade: Easy

Time of year: All year round (but Borland Road often closed during the winter months)

Accommodation: 12 bunk standard hut, with a fireplace. Situated on the lakefront. $5.10pp/night or an Annual Backcountry Hut Pass

Friday night: Camping at Lake Monowai at the end of Lake Monowai Road, toilet facilities only, water from lake (although supposedly there is a water tap there), $5 pp/ night or an Annual Backcountry Hut Pass

Route: From Borland Road: 2.5 hours undulating through bush and tussock flats (may be muddy at certain times of the year). Does involve a section of reasonable uphill and then downhill to the lakeshore.

From Lake Monowai: 6 hours total. The track follows Roger Inlet Track and is relatively flat for 1 hour before the turn off onto the Green Lake Track. From there it is about 4 hours of gradual uphill (with some steeper sections) to the saddle, followed by half an hour of steep downhill to the lakeshore, then another 30 minutes around the lake edge to the hut.

Directions: South on SH1 until Gore (2 hrs and a good takeaway stop), turn right onto SH 94 towards Milford Sound and follow through Lumsden and Mossburn. There is a shortcut road on the left at The Key called Blackmount-Redcliff Road, which will take you straight to the Lake Monowai/ Borland Road turn- off. If you miss that, there is a turnoff to Lake Manapouri just before Te Anau onto Hillside-Manapouri Road. Turn left onto this and then left onto Weir Road (which turns into Blackmount-Redcliff Road). If you find yourself in Te Anau, don’t worry; turn left onto SH 95 (the Manapouri-Te Anau Highway), which will take you to Manapouri. Then take Hillside-Manapouri Road, Weir Road and onto Blackmount-Redcliff Road. The Lake Monowai/ Borland Road turnoff on the right is well sign-posted (Note: road becomes gravel). If you reach Blackmount or Wairaki, you have gone too far. If you stay on Lake Monowai Road, it will take you to the Lake and car park. If you are using the Borland Road entrance, the turnoff is on the right about 10 minutes down Lake Monowai Road. It will take an additional 30 minutes to get to the Borland trailhead (it is recommended that this is not done in the dark). Takes around 4.5-5 hours.

Related trips:

Mt Burns Tarns: 45 minute side trip from Borland Road up to the tarns below Mt Burns, great views, potential to continue along ridge line or up to Mt Burns

Mt Eldrig: 4-5 hr return trip from Borland Road, track less well marked, muddy in places, fantastic views over Green Lake and Fiordland, nice camping spot above bush line on gravel

Rodger Inlet Hut: Leaves from Lake Monowai, 6 hrs, see DOC website for more information

For more trip ideas see:

Mt Titiroa Area (Fiordland National Park)

Top of the page

Grade: Summit = hard, campsite = moderate, Garnock Burn = easy

Time of year: You’ll need a full summers day to summit, but the terrain is fine year-round. Axe and crampons are required in winter and spring.

Accommodation: Hope Arm Hut, 12 bunks, $5.10 pp/ night or an Annual Backcountry Hut Pass

Friday night: Princhester Hut, just off SH94 that you can drive right up to (6 bunks, $5.10 pp. night or an Annual Backcountry Hut Pass). But those looking for a longer day would be better to camp at Pearl Harbour (Lake Manapouri) or even on the track across the Waiau River.

Route: To cross the Waiau River you’ll need to arrange to hire a boat from Adventure Manapouri (approx. $30 for the weekend). On the other side, follow the track for 2.5 hours to reach Hope Arm Hut. A party travelling further will need to camp. The track continues on for another 2 hours to Garnock Burn, which has excellent camp sites and would make an awesome and relaxed weekend trip. The route up Mt. Titiroa crosses the fallen tree over Garnock Burn and climbs directly up the steep, but very open bush. Reasonable navigation is required here. A broad, sandy saddle at the bush line is the best campsite on route to the summit. There are no streams beyond this point. The summit is about 2-3 hours further up the ridge.

Directions: Take SH1 to Gore (about 2 hours) and then turn right onto SH94. The turnoff to Lake Manapouri is well marked about 2 hours further. When you arrive in Manapouri, follow the main road to Pearl Harbour.

Related trips:

Titiroa Traverse: From the summit, continue south dropping to the west into the North Borland Burn when feasible. Good navigation required. You’ll need to park a car at the Borland car park and arrange to be ferried across the Waiau instead of hiring a boat. Requires a long second day from the campsite.

Garnock Burn: As described above (easier grade)

Hopkins Valley (Ruataniwha Conservation Park)

Top of the page

Grade: Easy – Moderate

Time of year: All year around but Dasler Pinnacles could be dodgy under snow

Accommodation: Monument Hut, 6 bunks, $5.10 pp/ night or an Annual Backcountry Hut Pass; Red Hut, 12 bunks, $5.10 pp/ night or an Annual Backcountry Hut Pass; Dasler Biv, 2 bunks (could squeeze 5 people if necessary), free; Elcho Hut, 12 bunks, $5.10 pp/ night or an Annual Backcountry Hut Pass; Culler’s Hut, 4 bunks, $5.10 pp/ night or an Annual Backcountry Hut Pass

Friday night: Takeaways in Oamaru, spend the night at the Temple Valley Shelter (tent, fly or stay on the concrete floor of the shelter) where there are toilets and running water (river).

Route: There is an unlocked gate at Ram Hill and you can continue several kilometres further up the valley by car. 4WD vehicles can make it to Monument Hut and possibly beyond. It is approximately 2 hours by foot from the Ram Hill gate to Monument Hut. The Huxley confluence is a little way up valley, with a swing bridge allowing access to the upper Hopkins valley if the Huxley is too high to cross. From here, a sparsely poled route up the true right of the Hopkins leads to the Alpine Club’s Elcho Hut (4hrs from Monument Hut), and dingy Culler’s Hut is another half an hour across Elcho Stream and up Apricot Flat. If Elcho Stream is uncrossable, there is a swing bridge but it takes an hour-long detour upstream. All travel in the valley is easy (euphemism: ‘pleasant’), and a weekend trip to Elcho Hut may be a bit unfulfilling. The best country in this area is another day’s travel upstream. As for the true left, historic Red Hut is two hours walk across the valley and up from Monument hut, but you’ll need low river levels to wade the Hopkins. An hour north of Red Hut is the Dasler Biv turn off, and the Biv itself is another two hours up a steep bush track. There are some campsites above the bush line. The Dasler Pinnacles look intimidating but can be scrambled on the north side (reasonable topographic map navigation is required here). Apart from the Huxley, this is probably the best weekend trip in the region.

Directions: Travel north on SH1 through Oamaru, and then turn inland towards Kurow on SH83 (about 1.5 hours to the junction). Drive to Omarama (a further 1.5 hours) and turn right to head onto SH8. Turn left at the Ohau turn off – there is a huge “Ohau Skifield” sign; you’ve missed it if you reach Twizel. The Ram Hill gate is some distance beyond Lake Ohau, probably another hour or so from Omarama. The Temple Valley turn off is found on the left hand side a short distance before the gate (as you head in) among farm buildings.

Related trips:

Temple Valley Loop

Maitland Valley

Freehold Creek

Huxley Valley

Clears Hut/ Tautuku Biv. (Catlins)

Top of the page

Grade: Easy

Time of year: Any

Accommodation: Clears Hut, 4 bunks (room for 3-4 extras on the floor), free, and set in a beautiful location in a natural tussock clearing in the largest area of native forest in the East of the South Island. The hut has a reasonable stock of cookware (rough pots, plates, and cutlery), so just take the bare essentials in case some idiot has removed the hut’s stocks.

Friday night: It’s easiest to leave Saturday morning (after the Silverpeaks and Big Hut, the walk to Clears Hut is one of the closest and therefore cheapest trips around). If you decide to leave on a Friday night, there is a great DoC campsite at Purakaunui Bay (about 20 minutes off-route, most likely $5.10 pp/ night) or alternatively there is a good free campsite at the Tautuku Bay car park (2 minutes off-route).

Route: Walking time is 1.5-2.5 hours. Follow the well-graded track towards McLeans Falls for about 50m until you reach a point where there is a gap in the vegetation on the left, and you can look through to a fenced farm- paddock. You will notice that the grass here is slightly trodden down. This is the start of the track to Clears Hut. Follow the fence along to your right until you reach either orange, triangular track-markers or a sign warning you about pest control involving firearms. Don’t worry about this sign. From here, the route to the hut is a well-marked but fairly rough track. The first half-hour of track climbs to a bluff from which you can see the sea on fine days, and from here you follow a flat, gentle ridge for around an hour before descending to the hut, which is situated in a clearing on the north side of this ridge. There is no fireplace inside the hut, but the outdoor fireplace is great for cooking on and there is plenty of manuka firewood available. If you have reasonable route-finding skills and a map and compass, it is worth spending 3-4 hours wandering to the next two tussock clearings, which you will see on the map, to the northeast of the hut. To reach the first of these, head to the most downstream end of the hut clearing and follow the various bits of coloured blaze tape that lead to the next clearing. The route can be a bit confusing, due to several parties having marked their own tracks. If you make sure you start heading left and downhill from near the really big rata tree, you should keep to the right route. Time: 15-30mins. To reach the next, and largest clearing, cross the creek at the far (north) end of the second clearing where there is a gap in the scrub beside the creek. If you look around for a few minutes on the far side, you should pick-up the start of another blaze tape trail. The time to the large clearing is 20-30 minutes. The tussocks in this clearing are huge, make great lunchtime armchairs, and are great for hide-and-seek.

Directions: Driving time is 2 hours. Drive south from Dunedin on SH1 until Balclutha, where you take the turn-off to the Catlins. Follow the main road through the Catlins, passing through Owaka, MacLennan, and Papatowai. 10-15 kilometers south of Papatowai, you will reach the turn-off to McLeans Falls, on your right – don’t get confused by Matai Falls, 25km earlier. Follow the gravel road to the McLeans Falls car park, where you will leave your car.

Related trips:

It is possible to make a crossing right through Tautuku forest to the farmland on the Tahakopa Valley. This could probably be done in no more than eight hours. The route would take you through a fourth clearing and then down onto a farm belonging to Marty and Adrian Stott. Call them on (03) 418 4646 to gain permission to access/ cross their property.

Staircase Hut (Wainakarua Conservation Area)

Top of the page

Grade: Easy

Time of year: All year round, but beware of wild sheep (‘bushy’) hunters

Accommodation: 4-6 bunks (two have rat poo), open fireplace, and lots of firewood, pots, cutlery etc., free, take batteries for the radio if you like Kahu FM (optional). This is a really excellent hut that no one goes to, except the odd hunter.

Friday night: N/A. Leave on Saturday morning.

Route: 3-5 hours on a well-marked track through manuka forest. Descend from the car park to the Mid Waikakarua River. Follow UP the river (often wading) for 10-15 minutes until you see orange triangles marking a track steeply uphill on the true right (left looking upriver). Follow the undulating track to the hut. The forest is nice and similar to the Silverpeaks, but much better and wading up the river is really beautiful.

Directions: Drive north from Dunedin on SH1 for approximately 50 minutes (past Hampden). Two minutes before Herbert turn left on Mt Misery Road and follow this for 10km or so until you see a DOC car park on the left, just after the pine forest ends.

Brodrick Hut (Ruataniwha Conservation Park)

Top of the page

Grade: Moderate

Time of year: All year round, however, avalanche run out zones can reach the valley floor in the Huxley from May to November. Brodrick Hut itself is potentially in an avalanche path after heavy snowfall. Check for the latest on snow condition if in doubt.

Accommodation: Brodrick Hut, 6 Bunks, $5.10 pp/ night or an Annual Backcountry Hut Pass, has a fireplace and plenty of wood.

Friday night: There are two options depending on the condition of the road up to Monument Hut: 1) 2WD road end by Huxley Lodge where there is a gate and DoC intentions book. Pitch a tent or a fly, although this can be a pretty bleak and windswept place. For running water, a creek runs just by the south side of the lodge. One of the huts that are a part of the Huxley Lodge complex is usually left open. It is the first one on your right as you go up the driveway to the lodge. 2) Monument Hut, 6 bunks, $5.10 pp/ night or an Annual Backcountry Hut Pass, a very nice old forestry service hut about 2 hours walk from the 2WD road end. Whether one can drive to it depends on the current condition of the road. 4WD vehicles can usually get to the hut relatively easily, although navigating the last 300m or so in the dark could present difficulties as it meanders over the braided river. The hut is on the same side of the Hopkins as the road, so if you stick to the true right you should be fine. It’s set slightly back from the valley floor where the beech forest begins on your left as you travel up valley. It could be preferable to spend Friday night near Huxley Lodge, and try and drive to Monument Hut early the following morning.

Route: Starting from Monument Hut, an easy-to-follow track meanders through beech forest up the valley, 10 to 30 m above the valley floor. Once out onto the Hopkins Valley floor, continue up the valley 300m. Before the Huxley River, a DoC sign indicates the start of a track that leads to a swing bridge over the Huxley (1 hour 15 minutes to the swing bridge). Once across the swing bridge, either follow the high water track up valley on the true left, which climbs above the valley floor in places, or travel up the valley floor crossing the Huxley as required. Huxley Forks Huts (9 bunks in total, DoC category 3) are at the bush edge on the true left of the Huxley where the valley branches (Monument Hut to Huxley Forks takes 3 hours). From here, cross the swing bridge over the North Huxley and follow the track up the valley. A large washout has necessitated crossing the river on the way to Broderick Hut. This normally shouldn’t present a problem although crossing the Huxley after heavy rain could be difficult. In this case, a high sidle above the washout could possibly work. Brodrick Hut is located on a terrace 80m above the river on the true right. For more information, refer to Moir’s Guide North (Geoff Spearpoint).

Directions: T ravel north on SH1 to Oamaru. About 15 minutes or so past Oamaru, turn left onto SH83, which will take you up the Waitaki valley (if you cross a bridge over the Waitaki here, you’ve missed the turn off). Follow SH83, passing through Kurow, Otematata, and onto Omarama. From Omarama turn right onto SH8. Follow this for 30 minutes or so, where a large sign on your left should indicate the turnoff to Lake Ohau. Follow this road (it turns into a gravel road) until you reach a gate, with a DoC intentions form box 10 m to the right. This is the end of the 2WD road and Huxley Lodge is on your left. From here to Monument Hut the road is a bit rough. It can sometimes be reached with a 2WD vehicle, but really depends on the condition of the road.

Related trips:

Brodrick Pass: About 2-3 hours from Brodrick Hut. Good campsites, a large tarn for water. Mt McKenzie is a relatively straightforward climb from the pass with agreeable views across the Landsborough valley towards Mt Hooker, Dechen, and other pretty peaks on a clear day.

South Huxley Biv: In the South Huxley, 3 hours from Huxley Forks. The biv is like a chicken coup, sleeps 2, has a fireplace, and is a Doc category 4 hut, free. Getting there requires crossing the south Huxley, which after heavy rainfall can be difficult.

Glade Pass/ Dore Pass (Fiordland National Park)

Top of the page

Grade: Hard

Time of year: December- May

Accommodation: Rough camping under flys or tents

Friday night: Camp at the start of the track (in the car park)

Route: Start walking as soon as it gets light (7-8am) following the marked route up Hut Creek. Once you have come to the base of the Earl Mountains take a left and head up the only stream/gorge that is presented to you. Once you get to the bottom of Glade Pass look for the green bushes (on the left) that will lead you on the only way over the pass (green goes). Great views are seen from the top. On the way down keep to the stream for 2-4 hours until the stream (gorge) opens out and you can see Lake Te Anau, then look to the right for a path that is not well marked, and when found, head down that (20 seconds) until you get into the trees where there is good place to camp. Failing that, Saturday night is spent camping on rough ground that is clear where possible. On Sunday, go back up the path and cross the stream directly where the path comes out. Locate the path that goes directly up the hill (hard to find). Follow these markers all the way to the tussock line and then follow snow marker poles that will start traversing across to Dore Pass (poles are hard to find and you climb above the pass before you start traversing across to it) Beware of bluffs when traversing. Walk over Dore Pass head down towards the stream (the route is difficult to find but is on the left of the stream as you are going down) and follow the route that is marked on the attached picture until you see orange markers. Follow these markers that will lead you out to the Milford Road. There is a river crossing just before the road. This trip should not be attempted if there is a lot of rain reported for the weekend that you will be attempting it, or for rain in the days prior to attempting it as river levels will rise quickly especially for the last crossing. Hard trip with 6-8+ hours each day but the rewarding views are incredible.

Directions: Head south on SH1 to Gore (a good place for takeaways), which takes about 2 hours. Turn right onto SH94 towards Milford Sound and follow to Te Anau. Stay on SH94 heading north to Milford Sound for about another hour after Te Anau. The car park is on the left hand side and is signposted as the Eglington River (and potentially Mistake Creek/ Hut Creek). If you pass the Routeburn Shelter, Hollyford Road, or end up at the Homer Tunnel/ Milford Sound, you have gone way too far.

Related Trips:

U-Pass: Another difficult trip that goes up Hut Creek, up and over U-Pass and back down Mistake Creek to the car park. Requires a careful waterfall traverse up/ down steep rock/ tussock terrain, but affords excellent views and a comfy camping site above the waterfall. Shouldn’t be attempted after heavy rain (or if it is forecasted), as there are a number of river crossings.

Mueller Hut (Mt Cook National Park)

Top of the page

Grade: Easy – Moderate

Time of year: All year around, but beware of winter snow conditions. The track crosses avalanche paths (that aren’t marked), so talk to DoC first. Snow often covers hut/ toilet facilities so it would be a good idea to carry a snow shovel. Allow 8 hours return.

Accommodation: 28 bunk serviced alpine hut at 1800 m, $35.70 pp/ night (or $30.60 for NZAC members), pay at Aoraki/ Mount Cook Visitor Centre beforehand. Mueller Hut is very popular, especially from mid-December to mid-March. A place in the hut is not guaranteed.

Friday night: Camping at the White Horse Campground just past Mt Cook Village. There is a massive shelter with comfortable tables to sleep on for free if there is no DOC warden. Otherwise camping is $6 pp/ night.

Route: Follow the signs from the campground. Much of the 1000 m climb is not on a track, but up a route marked by rock cairns and orange markers. These can be hard to find if the weather deteriorates, as it can, rapidly, at any time of year. Both track and route sections are steep, demanding 3-4 hours of almost continuous climbing from Aoraki/ Mt Cook village to the hut.

Directions: Leaving Dunedin, take SH1 north to Oamaru, and then shortly after turn left onto SH83. Follow this road to Omarama, then take a right onto SH8 and follow that through Twizel. Shortly after, make a left turn onto SH80 and follow the road to Mt Cook Village. If you reach Pukaki or Lake Tekapo, you have missed the turnoff to Mt Cook.

Related Trips:

Mt Olivier (1933 m) is on the ridge up behind the hut and is a half hour rocky scramble in summer, or 20 minute snowy ascent in winter. You’ll get amazing views of Mt Cook and the surrounding area. There is also Mt Kitchener beyond this. Check a route guide for details.

Luxmore Hut, Kepler Track (Fiordland National Park)

Top of the page

Grade: Easy

Time of year: Anytime (although you may be wading in snow above the bush line in the winter months)

Accommodation: Luxmore Hut, 53 bunks, during peak season (October to April) you will need to book through DoC, either by ringing, emailing, or visiting any regional office. Price is $51.10 pp/ night (peak season), or $15.30 pp/ night (off peak season). Annual Backcountry Hut Passes can be used during the off peak season or to obtain a discounted rate during the peak season. Anyone under 18 years of age is free, but still required to book during peak season.

Friday night: You can camp at Brod Bay if you get there early enough. It is 1.5 hours from the Control Gates car park (5.6 km). Alternatives include a fly at the road end (this is illegal, so you do so at your own risk), a hostel in Te Anau, or Princhester Hut, which you can drive right up to (6 bunk, $5.10 pp/ night or an Annual Hut Pass, situated about 30 minutes drive after Mossburn along SH94, after the Mavora Lakes turn off and before The Key, at the very end of Princhester Road, turnoff is on the left, approximately 15 minutes drive on a gravel road crossing private property).

Route: Follow the well-marked track from the Control Gates along the lakefront for 1.5 hours to Brod Bay (a nice swimming/ lunch spot). The track then begins to ascend up through the bush. The climb to the bush line takes 3-4 hours. From the bush line the track follows a wide, relatively flat ridgeline to the hut.

Directions: From Dunedin take SH1 south to Gore (2 hours) then turn right onto SH94 and follow through to Te Anau (another 1.5-2 hours). As you enter Te Anau, take a left turn on SH95 and follow for about five minutes. The turn off to the Kepler Track, Control Gates car park will be on the right and reasonably well signposted. NOTE: there are two car parks for the Kepler Track – another further south at Rainbow Reach, so if you find yourself at this car park, you have gone too far (Luxmore Hut can be accessed from either car park, but the walk is 2-3 hours longer from Rainbow Reach).

Related Trips:

Luxmore Cave: the entrance to the limestone caves is situated about 10 minutes from Luxmore Hut and is well signposted, although the caves extend for a few kilometers underground. Take your head torch/ phone/ back-up light source.

Kepler Track: 3-4 day Great Walk. Requires caution during the winter months, particularly the alpine section, as it crosses a number of avalanche paths.

Copland Hot Pools (Westland National Park, West Coast)

Top of the page

Grade: Moderate

Time of year: All year round, but beware of heavy rainfall

Accommodation: Welcome Flat Hut, 31 bunks, serviced hut with fireplace, $15.30pp/night (NOTE: Annual Backcountry Hut Passes are not valid for this hut). Alternatively, camping is permitted 50-400 m away from the hut (there is a nice rock biv).

Friday night: Camping at Copeland Valley car park. Alternatively, you could camp at Cameron Flat about 30 minutes out of Wanaka and before Haast Pass (along SH6 on the right hand side of the road) if you wanted to break up the drive and get and early morning start, cost is $6 pp/ night or free with your Annual Backcountry Hut Pass (there are toilets, picnic benches, and running water).

Route: 17 km (average time is 7 hours). The track starts by crossing Rough Creek. If this creek is running high or is discoloured it is unlikely the tramp can be undertaken safely all the way to Welcome Flat Hut. Although there is a flood bridge located 45 minutes upstream from the car park, if Rough Creek cannot be crossed safely then all the other creeks on the track will also be high and it is unlikely you will be able to cross Shiels Creek, the last creek before reaching Welcome Flat. After crossing Rough Creek, the track continues at the orange marker and follows a well-formed path through the forest. The track is marked across open areas and river crossings by orange triangle markers on trees. From the confluence of the Kärangarua River to Architect Creek, the track alternates from rocky riverbed to forest, with occasional grassy clearings. There is a bridge over Architect Creek and beyond this the track climbs towards Palaver Creek and Shiels Creek. Beyond Shiels Creek the track continues through fuchsia/ ribbonwood forest then emerges into a clearing at Welcome Flat.

Directions: South on SH1 until just past Milton, turn right onto SH 8 and follow through Alexandra and on until just past Cromwell, turn north onto SH 6 and continue through Wanaka and on towards Haast then continue up the West Coast. The turn off to the start of the Copland Track is situated just north of the Karangarua River bridge at the “Copland Valley” sign on the right. The car park is approximately 150 m down a gravel road. Coming from the north, Copeland Valley is situated 26 km south of the Fox Glacier township.

Related trips:

Douglas Rock Hut: 3 hours, 7 km further along the Copland Track. The route is slightly more difficult as all streams are unbridged. Navigation may be required as the track crosses a number of slips, and you are advised to carry a map.

Copland Pass: more advanced mountaineering trip. Check a guidebook for advice and route.

Long Beach Rock Climbing (Dunedin)

Top of the page

Grade: Easy – Hard, all abilities

Time of year: All year round, but not recommended when the rock is wet (raining)

Accommodation: Small cave(s) can sleep 20+ and big cave(s) can sleep 60+ (located at the North end of the beach). Make sure you bring your own fresh water as no streams are nearby and also wood for a fire as driftwood is sometimes hard to come by. Day trips are preferable as it is only 20 minutes from Dunedin.

Friday night: Camping at Cameron Flat on SH 6 just past Makarora, toilet facilities and running water, $6.10pp/ night an Annual Backcountry Hut Pass

Route: Great climbing area with grades all levels including top roping, sport climbing, lead climbing and trad climbing. Located in the northern third of the beach, the cliffs and rocky outcrops offer a wide variety of climbs for all ages and abilities. Park at the northern most car park and take the track to the beach for the easiest access to the climbs.

Directions: Follow SH88 out to Port Chalmers. Follow the signs to Long Beach (left onto Blueskin Road, right onto Purakanui, follow through Mihiwaka, right onto Mihiwaka Road and then you reach Beach Road and the Long Beach car park). At Long Beach, turn left and follow to the car park. You’ll have to carry your climbing gear for a minute or two along the grassy track to reach the beach. Within 100 m is “The Pinnacle”, Dunedin’s best and most popular rock climbing site.

For more information and details see ‘Dunedin Rock’, by Dave Brash, which can be found in the OUTC gear room.

Big Hut (Rock and Pillar Range)

Top of the page

Grade: Easy

Time of year: All year round, but beware of strong winds and exposure, especially if the weather deteriorates quickly

Accommodation: Big Hut, 20+ bunks (bookings required for groups >10), $10 pp/ night and gold coin for day use (pay cash in envelopes to honesty box at the hut), no fireplace. As the name suggest, it is a very roomy (cold) hut, which sports a ping-pong table and amusing posters about its past.

Friday night: Leave Saturday (only 1.25 hours drive from Dunedin)

Route: A day trip or overnight. 2.5-3.5 hour trip involving a direct 900 m climb from the road end so reasonable fitness is recommended (downhill time is around 1.5 – 2.5 hours). The route is marked by orange snow poles the whole way to the hut. The last 20 minutes is very exposed. The Rock and Pillar Range rises out the Otago Schist peneplain. It is a relatively flat-topped, tussocky range, marked by its rock tohr outcrops, which are good for bouldering and make good lookout spots. Although access is through farmland, and the country is open, the Rock and Pillar Range is very exposed to weather, and blizzard conditions are frequent in southerly weather.

Directions: South on SH1 to Mosgiel then take SH87 (Pig Route) through Outram to Middlemarch. 4 km north of Middlemarch on the left side of the road (at the intersection of SH87 and McKinnon Road. The entrance is marked by a green DoC sign labelled as the access way to the Rock and Pillar range and the car park is about 2 minutes down the farm road. It is important that all gates on this farm are left as they are found.

Related trips:

Other attractions of Rock and Pillar Range are: it’s suitability for cross-country touring (there is another hut a little further along range, called Leaning Lodge) and Big Hut itself.

Routeburn Falls Hut  (Mt Aspiring National Park)

Top of the page

Grade: Easy

Time of year: Anytime. Track is usually very busy in the summer months due to its great walk status.

Accommodation: Routeburn Falls Hut, a large modern hut with flushing toilets, cooking (peak season only) and heating facilities (all-year), 48 bunks, $51.10 pp/ night during peak season, $15.30 pp/ night off peak season or an Annual Backcountry Hut Pass (hut ticket discounts available during peaks season), bookings are essential during peak season.

Friday night: Stay at the Lake Sylvan Camping Ground (5km before the start of the track, $5 pp/ night, long drop) or at the road end shelter, 500m further down the road past the track start. This is a stone building with toilets and a fireplace. “Overnight camping is prohibited – DOC.”

Route: An easy womble up the Routeburn Track on a well-graded, wide track. Start at the start of the Routeburn track and work your way up to the hut, approx 2 hours to the Routeburn Flats Hut and 3 hours to Routeburn Falls Hut.

Directions: Take SH1 south to Milton, turn right onto SH8 to Cromwell, and then take SH6 to Queenstown. Go through Queenstown, straight at the Fernhill round- about, and then follow signposts to Paradise/ the Routeburn Track. Approx 450km each way, 6 hours drive.

Related trips:

For a trip extension walk further up the Routeburn into Valley of the Trolls and beyond, with many options for exploring off-track (Lake Harris, Conical Hill, Mt Xenicus, Emily Pass etc.)

Gertrude Saddle  (Fiordland National Park)

Top of the page

Grade: Easy

Time of year: Can be done all year round but, the Te Anau-Milford road is often closed due to snow during the winter months so find out about this before embarking. The area is also avalanche prone during winter and spring. Caution is also required in very wet weather as there is a river crossing at the bottom of the valley and the rocks nearing the top of the saddle can be quite slippery.

Accommodation: Camping on the top of the ridge, there are some decent places to set up camp, with little rock barriers made by earlier trampers to shelter from the wind, it is very exposed and can get very windy on the ridge.

Friday night: Either camp in the car park at the start of the track, $10 pp/ night, or stay in the NZAC Homer Hut, located just to the side of the car park to Gertrude Valley, $25 pp/ night a night for non-members, $15 pp/ night for members, 30 bunks.

Route: Approximately 4 hours up, and 3 hours down (although it can take longer), from Gertrude Valley car park to the top of the saddle. It is an additional 2 hours up and back to Barrier Knob. The track is fairly easy walking and flat for the first 40 minutes along the river valley. Then the track climbs steeply but fairly easily technically speaking for a bit until crossing the river below the waterfall. After this time follow the rock cairns up to Black Lake, parts of this are very steep, over rocks, and good fitness is needed. A steel wire is bolted into the rock just above and below Black Lake to assist you, i.e. it is very steep! The rock slabs can also get very slippery and treacherous when wet and icy. From the head of the Valley climb up through big boulders to the top of the saddle, where you will hopefully be greeted by beautiful views down into Milford Sound. Height at Gertrude Saddle: 1460 m, and the starting height at the car park is about 800 m. Barrier Knob:  1879m. Take the same route down, again being very careful of the steepness of some of the rocks, especially down the side of Black Lake, use the steel wire for stability.

Directions: Follow SH1 south to Gore. At the main roundabout in Gore turn right onto SH94 towards Te Anau, continuing through Riversdale, Lumsden, and Mossburn. Once you reach Te Anau continue to follow SH94 on the Te Anau- Milford Road, towards Milford Sound. Follow the road for about 1hour- 1 ½ hours until the turn off to ‘Gertrude Valley, Gertrude Saddle, and Homer Hut’ on the right, just before the Homer Tunnel. If you get to the Homer Tunnel you have gone too far, but only just. Leave about 5 hours for the journey.

Related trips:

Barrier Knob: Follow Gertrude Saddle along to the North. It is a steep and steady climb up, using ice and snow skills, about 1 hour 40 minutes round trip. Snow caving possibilities, and some snow skills practice are all possibilities.

Mirror Lakes is a short 10-minute return trip just off the Milford-Te Anau highway about halfway along on the left heading towards Milford Sound. It is well signposted and a nice place to get out and stretch your legs and get some beautiful views of the Earl Mountains.

Tutoko Valley: 5 hours return trip. Continue down the Milford Road through the tunnel about 10 minutes before you reach Milford Sound, lookout for the Tutoko bridge on the left of the road. The track is fairly well marked and follows the river for 2 ½ hours, then becomes less well marked and includes river crossing, continue as far as you like up the riverbed. Return the same way.

Canyon Creek  (Ahuriri Conservation Park)

Top of the page

Grade: Easy-Moderate

Time of year: All year around in the valley, but be wary of snow and avalanche conditions from June to November (ice axes and crampons may be required on the tops or to get up to the head of the valley)

Accommodation: Canyon Creek rock biv, free, (situated at the upper head of the valley), camping in the lower valley just inside the bush, free, there is an excellent campsite with a perfect rock face for a fire, up the main Ahuriri Valley there are numerous other huts, most of which are $5.10 pp/ night or free with an Annual Backcountry Hut Pass.

Friday night: Camping and toilet facilities are located at the road-end. The 4WD road passes by Ahuriri Base Hut, relatively small, six bunks, $5.10 pp/ night or free with an Annual Backcountry Hut Pass. This hut can generally be reached in a 2WD assuming there have been no wash-outs on the road (but don’t count on it)

Route: Begins with a bit of a climb on a well-marked track through mountain beech forest and then levels out alongside the river. Backcountry tramping experience will be needed for those wishing to continue on to the Canyon Creek rock biv at the head of Canyon Creek. There is a route marked by orange poles and rock cairns that heads up the true right of the waterfall nearing the head of the valley.

Directions: Take SH1 north from Dunedin to Oamaru (good takeaway stop). Just passed Oamaru is a turnoff on the left to Omarama on SH83. If you reach the Waitake Bridge or Glenavy, you have gone too far. Continue to Omarama and turn left onto SH8. About 15 minutes further (maybe a little longer) is a right hand turn onto Birchwood Road. Continue down this road to Ahuriri Conservation Park (another 30-45 minutes). From SH8 (south of Omarama) it is approximately 45 km to the Ahuriri Conservation Park boundary, which can be negotiated by 2WD vehicles. From the boundary to the road end car park 4WD vehicles are required. However, recreationalists may decide to mountain bike instead. Total travel time is approximately 3.5-4 hours.

Related trips:

Ahuriri Valley (main): there are a number of huts only a couple of hours apart (Shamrock Hut, Hagens Hut, Top Hut)

Snowy Gorge Hut: there is a marked route up a side valley coming off the Ahuriri. It is also possible to cross over to Lake Ohau through this route. Consult DOC, as permission from the landowners is required to do the complete crossing.

Mountaineering: Mt Heim or Mt Barth – both require technical mountaineering equipment and skills. Consult guidebooks and/ or club members.

French Ridge Hut, Matukituki Valley  (Mt Aspiring National Park)

Top of the page

Grade: Moderate-Hard

Time of year: Extreme caution required in the winter months and will require crampons                                                       and ice axes, and probably skis/ snowshoes. The hut is generally the                                                                         tramping limit for most people, but you can probably go further, up to the                                                       bottom of the permanent ice of the Quarterdeck in summer.

Accommodation: Hut sleeps at least 30 people, no gas, and will cost about $25 pp/ night (less for NZAC members because NZAC owns this hut). Annual Backcountry Hut Passes DO NOT apply.

Friday night: Mt Aspiring Hut, 30+ bunks, approximately $25 pp/ night (less for NZAC members) or camp at Raspberry Flat car park that has toilets and water.

Route: 7 hours each way from Mt Aspiring Hut. From Raspberry Flat car park, walk  up the 4WD track to Aspiring Hut (Annual Backcountry Hut Passes DO NOT apply), approximately 2 hours. From Aspiring Hut, either follow the track directly across Cascade Creek below the hut, or take the bush track to the National Park boundary behind the hut (this crosses Cascade Creek on a bridge – good if the rivers are up). The tracks join up on the lightly forested hill before the bush edge. It is about an hour from Aspiring Hut to Shovel Flat, and then another 20 minutes through to Pearl Flat. Ford the river here (look for the marker on the other side). There is a bridge over the Matukituki further upstream, but this take 30 minutes, as well as across Liverpoool Stream. Take the track directly on the other side. It is 2 hours to the bush line, and is quite steep. There are several rocky sections just before the bush line that require care when icy or wet. From the bush line it is another hour to the hut, and potentially more if snowy. The track is marked with snow  poles, and you won’t see the hut until you are almost there.

Directions: Drive to the Raspberry Flat car park, where all the best trips start or end. Take SH1 south from Dunedin. Just after Milton, turn right onto SH8 to Alexandra (good takeaway stop) and on to Cromwell. From here take SH6 to Wanaka. Continue through the main street in Wanaka (following the lakeshore around to the left. This road turns into the Wanaka-Mt Aspiring Road. Stay on this road until the very end, where the car park is. NOTE: although this road is usually fine for 2WD vehicles, there are several fords along Wanaka-Mt Aspiring Road and caution is required (particularly in wet weather when the rivers are up).

Related trips:

Cascade Saddle: check DOC and guidebooks. Experience and good judgement required.

Rob Roy Glacier: a 3 hour return side trip on the way to Mt Aspiring Hut, easy grade, makes a good day trip from Raspberry Flat car park