Length: from 5.0 up to 9.0 days
Distance: 86.5 km (51.5 DOC hours) - Unmarked route, clear - Moderate terrain
Altitude: 448m to 1868m. Gain: 7659m. Loss: 7688m . Gradient: 10 deg (Steep)
Skills: Prolonged scrambles (4/7) - Prolonged rivers (4/5) Winter - Snow/ice underfoot, avalanche risk (3/7)

A very scenic 100km tramp down the middle of the South Island, from St Arnaud to Lewis Pass.

Most of the tramp is remote and sections are dangerous, particularly in poor visibility. Take a PLB and/or Mountain Radio. Described here from North to South, the tramp can be done in either direction. Maps, compass and GPS are necessary.

From St Arnaud, the high Robert Ridge and scenic Angelus Basin are a taste of things to come. Descending steeply to the Sabine River precedes a longer gradual climb to it's source and a steep scree ascent to Waiau Pass.

Descend to the valley then climb again to Lake Thompson at 1800m elevation and a tricky route-finding sidle, high above the head of the D'Urville Valley.

Descending into the Matakitaki Valley, the route follows the east branch then climbs back to the tops along the west branch, to Three Tarns Pass.

Finally, the last major descent and onto the St James Walkway and Lewis Pass.


Distance: 11.5 km (6.0 DOC hours) - Tramping track - Moderate terrain
Altitude: 882m to 1775m. Gain: 1472m. Loss: 698m . Gradient: 11 deg (Moderate)
Skills:
GPX info source: Drawn on map

From the Robert Ridge carpark, the initial climb is steep but on a wide benched track. At first under beech, the track pops out into the open and zig-zags up to Mt Robert, with a couple of brief returns to the beech.

Once on the ridge, the track is poled. However, the footpad is obvious (in good weather) as it rises and falls along the ridge. The track from Speargrass Hut joins from the north, 1km before the Angelus. A short climb reaches a saddle and a cairn overlooking the lake and the hut.

Continue south along the ridge and follow the poles down to the hut.

Created by: Bernieq on 2015-06-21. Experienced: 2013-02-12
Last updated by: Bernieq at 2015-06-28 22:55:01. Experienced: 2013-02-12

Distance: 7.0 km (6.0 DOC hours) - Tramping track
Altitude: 448m to 1806m. Gain: 268m. Loss: 1474m . Gradient: 15 deg (Steep)
Skills:
GPX info source: Drawn on map

This track has two sections - from the Angelus Hut to Mt Cedric and the treeline is exposed, some bouldering, some tussock. Cairns and poles define the route

The descent from the treeline to Sabine Hut is under beech, very steep and slippery.

Some maps incorrectly label this route as 'Cascade Track' (which actually runs from Angelus Hut to the Travers River)

Created by: Bernieq on 2015-06-21. Experienced: 2013-02-13
Last updated by: Bernieq at 2015-06-28 22:40:45. Experienced: 2013-02-14

Distance: 13.9 km (5.0 DOC hours) - Tramping track - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 450m to 686m. Gain: 544m. Loss: 319m . Gradient: 4 deg (Gentle)
Skills:
GPX info source: Drawn on map

Being part of the Travers-Sabine loop, the track is well defined.
The only significant climb/descent (approx 100m) is upstream of the fixed bridge, 2km from Sabine Hut. Otherwise, it's an easy tramp beside the Sabine River, mostly in the forest but occasionally traversing grassy flats (suitable for camping if needed).

To gain access to West Sabine Hut, the new (2013) swing bridge is just upstream of the hut.

Created by: Bernieq on 2015-06-21. Experienced: 2013-02-14
Last updated by: Bernieq at 2015-06-28 22:46:13. Experienced: 2013-02-14

Distance: 6.7 km (3.5 DOC hours) - Tramping track - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 675m to 1189m. Gain: 551m. Loss: 37m . Gradient: 5 deg (Moderate)
Skills: - Streams (2/5)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

Crossing to the TL at the swingbridge, the track remains close to the river as it heads upstream.

Mostly gently rising, there are two short sharp climbs as the track approaches Blue Lake. Some lengths of boardwalk assist with dry boots and signal that the hut is very close.

Created by: Bernieq on 2015-06-21. Experienced: 2013-02-14
Last updated by: Bernieq at 2015-07-10 06:20:21. Experienced: 2013-02-14

Distance: 5.9 km (3.0 DOC hours) - Marked route - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 1182m to 1866m. Gain: 1075m. Loss: 391m . Gradient: 15 deg (Moderate-hard)
Skills: Occasional scrambles (3/7) - Streams (2/5)
GPX info source: Uploaded from GPS

From Blue Lake, the route is poled all the way to Waiau Pass (and on to the valley floor).
Initially gently rising and open, once to the trees the track steepens. A rising track leads to the true left of Lake Constance brings you to a steep scree climb then a traverse to the mid-point of the lake.
Although there have been recorded deaths above the lake, the track is straight forward. However, take care if you choose to approach the top of the bluffs as the fall to the lake is sheer.
The poled route leads to a steep descent in a gut and to the lake shore – then along to the lake head and across the valley floor (good campsites 100m before the start of the climb) and up up up to Waiau Pass.
It’s steep but the initial section on larger rocks is stable. The track moves onto a grass tongue until an obvious footpad angles up, across the scree, towards a grassy shelf. A useful tarn at the base of the final ascent to the pass means less water needs to be hauled up from the valley.

Created by: Bernieq on 2015-06-20. Experienced: 2006-02-01
Last updated by: Bernieq at 2015-06-21 02:41:34

Distance: 1.6 km (1.0 DOC hours) - Marked route
Altitude: 1300m to 1868m. Gain: 24m. Loss: 590m . Gradient: 23 deg (Moderate-hard)
Skills: Prolonged scrambles (4/7)
GPX info source: Uploaded from GPS

On the map, this route looks steep and risky - in wet or icy weather it would be. However, poled all the way, in good weather this is a simple descent on good, grippy rock.

Created by: Bernieq on 2015-06-20. Experienced: 2013-02-15
Last updated by: Bernieq at 2015-06-21 02:42:16. Experienced: 2013-02-15

Distance: 2.7 km (2.5 DOC hours) - Unmarked route, clear - Moderate terrain
Altitude: 1306m to 1791m. Gain: 510m. Loss: 29m . Gradient: 12 deg (Moderate-hard)
Skills: Occasional scrambles (3/7) - Streams (2/5)
GPX info source: Uploaded from GPS

Crossing the river to the TR, we tried to cut the corner but travel was easier closer to the stream.

Crossing back to the TL involved a scramble down and up out of the stream. Then a stiff climb to the gut (and fault line) that runs up to Lake Thompson. We traveled in the gut but travel would also be good on the ridgetop. From Lake Thompson, it's a short climb to Thompson Pass, first on a grassy tongue, then on rock.

Created by: Bernieq on 2015-06-20. Experienced: 2013-02-15
Last updated by: Bernieq at 2017-10-12 07:20:34. Experienced: 2013-02-15

Distance: 3.3 km (2.5 DOC hours) - Unmarked route, clear
Altitude: 1655m to 1825m. Gain: 523m. Loss: 507m . Gradient: 18 deg (Moderate-hard)
Skills: Prolonged scrambles (4/7)
GPX info source: Uploaded from GPS

From the Pass we climbed to the east (there is an obvious grassy ramp back from the middle of the pass) and picked our way through the rocks (occasionally spotting cairns) to descend to a bit of a ledge, initially at the 1800m contour and then at 1700m. Rather than traverse below the final bluffs, we climbed a steep shallow gut – a very easy approach to D’Urville Pass.

You need good visibility for this route.

Created by: Bernieq on 2015-06-20. Experienced: 2013-02-16
Last updated by: Bernieq at 2015-06-21 02:43:22. Experienced: 2013-02-16

Distance: 0.0 km (2.0 DOC hours) - Unmarked route, clear - Moderate terrain
Altitude: 1250m to 1815m. Gain: 19m. Loss: 584m . Gradient: -70 deg (Moderate)
Skills: Alpine weather (2/7) - Streams (2/5)
GPX info source: Uploaded from GPS

Descending from the pass, there is good scree for slide-stepping to the obvious tarn in quick time. Then move left of the tarn to the top of the gut descending SW to the Matakitaki Valley floor. Initially steep, it starts to look like bluffing out but it’s a simple boulder-hop to the bottom.
Once down, progress is easiest on the rocks in the river until almost the treeline. 1km from the bushedge the 'V' chute descending from Davids Saddle can be seen joining the valley from the north.

Created by: Bernieq on 2015-06-20. Experienced: 2013-02-16
Last updated by: Madpom at 2015-08-24 17:31:55. Experienced: 2013-02-16

Distance: 0.0 km (3.0 DOC hours) - Unmarked route, clear - Moderate terrain
Altitude: 896m to 1247m. Gain: 172m. Loss: 523m . Gradient: 456 deg (Moderate)
Skills: - Prolonged rivers (4/5) Winter - Snow/ice underfoot, avalanche risk (3/7)
GPX info source: Uploaded from GPS

From the point where the Davids Saddle route joins the Matakitaki valley downstream, there are intermittent footpads, requiring frequent river crossings to pick up easier travel on the grassy flats. Just 2km from the hut, on the TL, is a benched cut 1km track, initially climbing away from the river and then back to the flats. 1km above the hut, we crossed to the grassy flat on the TR, crossing back to the TL at the hut.

Created by: Bernieq on 2015-08-20. Experienced: 2013-02-16
Last updated by: Ellya at 2018-04-10 20:39:07. Experienced: 2018-04-01

Distance: 4.9 km (1.5 DOC hours) - Tramping track - Easy terrain
Altitude: 719m to 897m. Gain: 163m. Loss: 333m . Gradient: 6 deg (Flat)
Skills:
GPX info source: Uploaded from GPS

All on-track and in the trees, from the hut, follow the obvious markers on the true left. There are a few boggy sections but nothing serious. Shortly before the west river branch walkwire there is a sign to the east branch walkwire and access to downstream Matakitaki river, the gorge and Downie's Hut.

Depending on time of year, beware of European wasps in this section.

Created by: Bernieq on 2015-06-21. Experienced: 2013-02-17
Last updated by: Bernieq at 2015-06-21 02:44:22. Experienced: 2013-02-17

Distance: 3.3 km (2.0 DOC hours) - Tramping track - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 726m to 852m. Gain: 304m. Loss: 186m . Gradient: 9 deg (Moderate)
Skills: - Occasional rivers (3/5)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

Having crossed to the TL on the 3-wire bridge, there is a short sharp climb to the 800m contour. Then, rising and falling, is a well defined track, under beech for a little over 2km before breaking out into a clearing.

At the other end, 1km away, is Bobs Hut. We kept to the TL and crossed easily at low water levels directly opposite the hut.

This crossing would be problematic following heavy rain.

Created by: Bernieq on 2015-06-21. Experienced: 2013-02-17
Last updated by: Bernieq at 2015-06-21 04:12:31. Experienced: 2013-02-15

Distance: 5.0 km (1.5 DOC hours) - Unmaintained track - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 837m to 1108m. Gain: 292m. Loss: 28m . Gradient: 4 deg (Flat)
Skills: - Prolonged rivers (4/5)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

A short distance from Bobs Hut, the track crosses the river to the TR (not possible in higher flows) and stays on the TR whilst under the trees. The side streams make for quite a few boggy sections.

Once at the clearing (from 1070m contour) pick your way across the grassy flat, crossing and recrossing the stream. In high flow, keeping to the TR would be OK but would take longer.

Created by: Bernieq on 2015-06-22. Experienced: 2013-02-18

Distance: 4.9 km (4.0 DOC hours) - Unmarked route, clear - Moderate terrain
Altitude: 1108m to 1857m. Gain: 864m. Loss: 115m . Gradient: 12 deg (Moderate-hard)
Skills: - Streams (2/5)
GPX info source: Uploaded from GPS

The route from the cairn is uncomplicated – cross to the true left and climb (steeply) away from the river to an obvious saddle, avoiding the Spaniard grass. Then gradually descend back to the river, below a major gut on the true left. From here, stay in the river, boulder-hopping, until just below the final climb to the tarns – easy travel.

For the climb to 3 Tarns, we exited the river to the TL at the 1400m contour - in hindsight, it would probably be better to continue in the stream to the 1600m contour.

Created by: Bernieq on 2015-06-21. Experienced: 2013-02-18

Distance: 4.5 km (3.0 DOC hours) - Unmarked route, clear - Moderate terrain
Altitude: 979m to 1857m. Gain: 124m. Loss: 983m . Gradient: 14 deg (Moderate)
Skills: - Streams (2/5)
GPX info source: Uploaded from GPS

Descend from the pass on a sizeable boulder-field to the obvious tarn and continue south straight over the edge (rather than seeking a route down to the east of the tarn). More boulders/scree makes a simple, quick descent to the creek (just 30 min from the tarn).

After reaching the creek, it’s a cairned route (mostly) to the treeline (NZTM 1555288 5317043) and a marked track from there to the St James Walkway, turning left for Ada Pass Hut.

Created by: Bernieq on 2015-06-21. Experienced: 2013-02-19

Distance: 3.9 km (1.5 DOC hours) - Tramping track - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 896m to 1007m. Gain: 82m. Loss: 183m . Gradient: 4 deg (Gentle)
Skills:
GPX info source: Drawn on map

Part of the St James Walkway, this is a well defined track.

A short distance from Ada Pass hut along the track through the grassy flats is a fixed bridge that crosses to the TR of Maruia River (right branch).

Never far from the river, the walkway continues gently downstream to Cannibal Gorge Hut.

Created by: Bernieq on 2015-06-29. Experienced: 2013-02-19

Distance: 5.6 km (2.8 DOC hours) - Tramping track - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 725m to 908m. Gain: 482m. Loss: 654m . Gradient: 12 deg (Moderate)
Skills: - Streams (2/5)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

From the hut, the track heads downstream crossing the clearing and entering the bush and crossing a bridged side-stream.

Now the track enters Cannibal Gorge and, with some ups and downs, is usually well above the river.

A steep, zig zagging descent arrives at the swing bridge that crosses to the TL.

Created by: Bernieq on 2015-06-29. Experienced: 2013-02-20

Distance: 1.8 km (0.7 DOC hours) - Tramping track - Easy-moderate terrain
Altitude: 720m to 864m. Gain: 190m. Loss: 54m . Gradient: 8 deg (Moderate)
Skills: - Streams (2/5)
GPX info source: Drawn on map

Having crossed to the TL of Maruia River (right branch), the track climbs steeply, zig zagging to ease the gradient, to Alpine Tarn and the Lewis Pass trailhead.

Created by: Bernieq on 2015-06-29. Experienced: 2013-02-20

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