Lewis Pass National Reserve

 

Short Walks

Lewis Pass Information

Visit Lewis Pass National Reserve

Looking for information about walks and activities you can do in the Lewis Pass area?
 

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Lake Sumner and Lewis Pass Brochure (PDF 167k)

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Alpine Nature Walk

Time: 20 mins loop track
Distance: 800 m

This is a loop track at the start of the St James Walkway. It leads through an alpine wetland, with views of Gloriana Peak and the Spenser Mountains. Picnic tables make it a great spot to stop while on a longer drive.
The Alpine Nature Walk can be accessed from the St James Carpark 400 m east of the Lewis Pass on SH7 (Lewis Pass Highway).

Lewis Tops Track

Time: 1.5 hr one way
Advanced: Tramping track

This track starts opposite the St James carpark. It soon enters beech forest and climbs to the open tussock tops. Superb views of the surrounding mountains are available and several picturesque tarns soon come into view with further (unmarked) travel along the ridge.



Day Walks

Lake Daniell Track

8.4 km one way
3 hr
Intermediate: Great Walk/Easier tramping track

Lake Daniell Track begins from the Marble Hill camping area located 5km east of Springs Junction on the Lewis Pass Highway. Turn off the highway onto a gravel road and drive several hundred metres till you come to a shelter on the left hand side.

This is a great walk for families with young children or those people new to tramping. The track is a well formed bench track that can also be completed as a day walk.
From the shelter, the track enters the trees and soon crosses the Maruia River over a deep, narrow gorge called the Sluice Box. From the Sluice Box the track continues up the Alfred River. The track passes through spendid red beech forest until it reaches the lake edge and the Manson Nicholls Memorial Hut (sleeps 24).There are two bunk rooms in the Manson Nicholls Memorial Hut which can cater nicely for families with young children. Camping is possible on the grass surrounding the hut or a little further around the lake in the open forest.
In front of the hut small jetty juts out into the shallow waters of the lake. The lake is shallow and the water is warm enough to swim in during the summer months. There is also excellent trout fishing in the lake.

Manson Nicholls Memorial Hut
Category: Serviced
Facilities: 24 bunk beds, heating, mattresses
Bookings not required - first come, first served

On the track to the lake you may encounter tomtit, rifleman, robin, tui, fernbird, silvereye, grey warbler, bellbird, and even kaka or kakariki.
Lake Daniell is within the Maruia Waka Huia special biodiversity area which is a time capsule of what New Zealand once was. Keeping the many rare wildlife and plant species of the Maruia area safe from introduced predators requires a massive conservation effort.
You may encounter some of the many predator traps along the way that are part of this effort.

Rough Creek Track

5 hr 30 min - 6 hr
Advanced: Tramping track

The track leads up to the bushline, from where snowpoles mark the way through open tussock tops over the Rough Creek Saddle. The poles meet the track down the upper right hand branch of the Blue Grey River above Lake Christabel.
Lake Christabel can also be accessed from the west - see Lake Christabel Tracks
Access the track from Speargrass Flat, 10 km west of Lewis Pass on SH7.

 


 

Multi Day

Lewis Pass - Waiau Pass - Blue Lake Route

Waiau Pass is an alpine crossing suitable for experienced parties only, linking Lewis Pass and Nelson Lakes National Park.

52.5 km
4 - 5 days
Expert: Route

Brochure: Lewis Pass - Blue Lakes route guide (PDF, 1,005K)

From Lewis Pass to Cannibal Gorge Hut

Time: 3 hr 30 min
Distance: 7 km

 From Lewis Pass to Ada Pass Hut

 Time: 5 hr
Distance: 10 km

The track begins from the Tarn Nature Walk, across a natural bog, then enters the bush, descending 150 metres in a steep zigzag to Cannibal Gorge and the Maruia River.
A swing bridge crosses Cannibal Gorge to the true right bank. From here it is about 6 km to the Cannibal Gorge Hut.

Cannibal Gorge Hut
Category: Serviced
Facilities: 20 bunk beds, heating, mattresses
Bookings not required - first come, first served

Past the hut, the track follows an easy grade alongside the Maruia River, through beech forest and open alpinefields (prone to avalanches) to the Ada Pass Hut.

Ada Pass Hut
Category: Serviced
Facilities: 14 bunk beds, heating, mattresses
Bookings not required - first come, first served

Ada Pass to Christopher Hut

Time: 4 hr 30 min
Distance: 10.5 km

This section of the track is on St James Station. From the hut, the track leads through bush over the Ada Pass and into the Ada Valley.
Beech forest opens to areas of tussock with patches of mountain beech.
Orange triangles at the clearing edge indicate the track through bush areas, following the true right of the Ada River.
At the junction of the Ada and Christopher Rivers, the track passes the historic Christopher (Ada) Cullers Hut. The Christopher Hut is a 10 - 15 minute walk from this point, close to the
edge of the bush. The hut sleeps 14 and has a wood stove.

Christopher Hut
Category: Serviced
Facilities: 14 bunk beds, heating, mattresses
Bookings not required - first come, first served

Christopher Hut to Caroline Bivvy

Time: 7 hr 30 min
Distance: 20 km

Cross the Ada River below the Christopher Hut and follow the 4WD track into the Waiau Valley.
This area is private property (St James Station). Please leave gates as you found them and keep away from the Ada Homestead.
Follow up the Waiau River on the true right bank over mainly broad, grassy flats. Two old, bush-covered terminal moraines are crossed further up the Waiau as the valley starts to narrow.
As this crosses private land, permissions must be obtained from the owner of St James Station.

Caroline Creek Bivvy
Category: Basic/bivvies
Facilities: 2 bunk beds, heating
Bookings not required - first come, first served

Caroline Bivvy to Upper Waiau Forks

Time: Approximately 3 hr
Distance: 5 km

Continue up the true right of the Waiau River until it veers left near the forks. Take care as the track may be overgrown in places. Cross the river and follow up a natural open area and past a good camping spot in the last stand of beech, before emerging into an area of mixed scrub.

Upper Waiau Forks to Waiau Pass

Time: Approximately 3 - 5 hr (depending on snow conditions)
Distance: 2 km

The track now crosses the east branch of the river, then climbs through scrub, where a few cairns and remnants of track lead well up the valley of the west branch to a tussock ridge. Climb this to reach the foot of low bluffs.
Ascend up easy ledges and tracks, then cross several tussock terraces, still climbing until spaced steel marker poles lead the way up a steep rocky ridge. At the top the route leads left on easy going to Waiau Pass.

Waiau Pass to Blue Lake Hut

Time: Approximately 3 hr
Distance: 5 km

Follow the poles down the pass, then turn right along a prominent terrace before descending scree slopes to Lake Constance.
Bluffs on the left (west) side of the lake block your route, so climb steeply for 150 metres before edging above these bluffs.
Stay at the same altitude until near the lower end of the lake where you can descend onto rubble slopes. From here you will soon pick up a track crossing the vegetated moraine wall. This descends to Blue Lake Hut a short distance below.

Blue Lake Hut

Category: Serviced
Facilities: 16 bunk beds, heating, mattresses
Bookings not required - first come, first served.

Waiau Pass is an alpine crossing suitable for experienced parties only. Snow craft experience is required and equipment taken should include at least an ice axe. Weather conditions can deteriorate rapidly and icy snow conditions can be experienced at any time of the year.

Note: True right and left banks of a river are determined when facing down stream.

St James Walkway

This track passes through pastoral land, beech forest and sub-alpine regions, and is a great introduction to multi-night tramping.

66 km one way
5 days
Advanced: Tramping track

Description

 

The St James Walkway is commonly done over 5 days / 4 nights. It's suitable for both beginners and experienced trampers.
For family groups the descent into Cannibal Gorge provides an invigorating shorter walk along a well formed, boardwalked track.

 

Places to stay

 

There are five Serviced huts on the walkway: Cannibal Gorge, Ada Pass, Christopher, Anne and Boyle Flat huts.
In addition trampers can also stay in Magdalen and Rokeby huts.

 

Note: During the summer it is recommended that you carry a tent as accommodation within the huts is limited and available on a first come basis.

 

This description covers the walk beginning at the Lewis Pass picnic area and ending at the Boyle shelter. The walking times are average for a reasonably fit and experienced adult tramper.

 

Note: True right and left banks of a river are determined when facing downstream.

 

Lewis Pass - Cannibal Gorge Hut - Ada Pass Hut

 

Time: 3 hr 30 min to Cannibal Gorge Hut, 5 hr to Ada Pass Hut
Distance: 7 km to Cannibal Gorge Hut, 10 km to Ada Pass Hut

 

The track leaves the picnic area on the Tarn Nature Walk across a natural open bog. It then enters the bush, descending in a steep zig-zag into Cannibal Gorge on the Maruia River.
A swing bridge crosses Cannibal Gorge to the true right bank. From here it is about 6 km to the Cannibal Gorge Hut. Past the hut the track follows an easy grade alongside the Maruia River, through beech forest and open alpine fields (prone to avalanches) to Ada Pass Hut (3 km - 30 minutes).

Cannibal Gorge Hut
Category: Serviced
Facilities: 20 bunk beds, heating, mattresses
Bookings not required - first come, first served

Ada Pass Hut
Category: Serviced
Facilities: 14 bunk beds, heating, mattresses
Bookings not required - first come, first served

Ada Pass Hut - Christopher Hut

Time: 4 hr 30 min
Distance: 10.5 km

From the hut, the track leads through bush over Ada Pass into the Ada valley. Beech forest gradually gives way to open areas of tussock with tongues of mountain beech.
Orange triangles at the clearing edge indicate the start of the track through bush areas, following the true right bank of the Ada River.
At the confluence of the Ada and Christopher rivers, the track passes the historic Christopher (Ada) Cullers Hut. The Christopher Hut is 10 - 15 minutes walk from this point, close to the edge of the bush, about 350 metres from the Ada River.

Christopher (Ada) Cullers Hut
Category: Basic/bivvies
Facilities: 4 bunk beds
Bookings not required - first come, first served

Christopher Hut
Category: Serviced
Facilities: 14 bunk beds, heating, mattresses
Bookings not required - first come, first served

Christopher Hut - Anne Hut

Time: 4 hr, 30 min
Distance: 13 km

From Christopher Hut the route goes down the valley along the true right bank of the Ada River to where the open flats converge with the river and toe of the hill, about 1.5 km above the Ada homestead.
The track eventually joins a vehicle track for some distance to the Henry / Waiau valley confluence. From here it passes through matagouri thickets and some open rolling and swampy ground and rejoins the vehicle track (up till now the track is on the true left bank of the Henry River).|
After crossing a suspension bridge over the Henry River the track follows close to the true right bank, rejoining the vehicle track through to the Anne Hut.

Anne Hut
Category: Serviced
Facilities: 20 bunk beds, heating, mattresses
Bookings not required - first come, first served

Anne Hut - Boyle Flat Hut

Time: 7 hr 30 min
Distance: 17 km

The track crosses a footbridge over the Anne River to gain access to the true left, and 2 km upriver it crosses another footbridge back to the true right. The track continues up and over the Anne Saddle into the Boyle Valley. Orange pole markers indicate the route over the Boyle Flats, past the basic Rokeby Hut. The true left bank is followed to a suspension bridge over the Boyle River, 100 metres from the Boyle Flat Hut.

Rokeby Hut
Category: Basic/bivvies
Facilities: 3 bunk beds
Bookings not required - first come, first served

Boyle Flat Hut
Category: Serviced
Facilities: 14 bunk beds, cooking, mattresses
Bookings not required - first come, first served

Boyle Flat Hut - Boyle settlement

Time: 5 hr
Distance: 14.5 km

After re-crossing the footbridge to join the walkway route on the true left bank, follow markers to the start of the track through the gorge.
A suspension bridge crosses the Boyle River, then the track follows the true right bank to another suspension bridge.
30 mins from the 2nd Boyle River bridge is Magdalen Hut.

Magdalen Hut
Category: Standard
Facilities: 6 bunk beds, heating, mattresses
Bookings not required - first come, first served

A vehicle track is joined and followed down the valley to the shelter and car park at SH7by the Boyle settlement.

Both ends of the track are on SH7 (Lewis Pass Rd) - one end is near the top of Lewis Pass, and the other end is at Boyle Village.

What to expect

It is well signposted and marked, including stretches of open farm land where cairns and markers indicate the route.
The walkway is not difficult but the climate can be extreme. It should not be attempted during winter months unless you are an experienced tramper.

 

Be prepared

 

While the St James is not a difficult walk, its location in a sub-alpine area with erratic weather conditions necessitates safety precautions:

Travel with a group: Never travel alone. In the event of an accident, there is a better chance of prompt help. Four is a safe minimum.

 

Advise your intentions: Inform friends or relatives of your intended route and completion date for the walk. Also sign the record books in both the Boyle and Lewis Pass shelters and huts. If you are overdue, search and rescue action can be taken promptly and effectively.

 

Map: You will require the St James Walkway - NewTopo map. This details the route including the location of huts.

 

Clothing and footwear: Be prepared for the worst - bad weather is a possibility regardless of season. Carry warm clothing and include waterproof parka and over-trousers. Sturdy, comfortable boots are essential, as is a good pack and a sleeping bag with waterproof cover. On half day trips strong shoes and a parka are minimal equipment.

 

Note: All parties should be self-sufficient in case of an accident or huts being full.


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