Birding · Views
This amazing track is best done as a multi-day run with overnight stays at the Okaka Lodge and Port Craig Lodge. The route has an impressive history, incredible scenery, lush rainforests, ancient beech forests, rocky beeches, and some of the most unforgettable trails you'll get to experience on the South Island.
The track and private lodges are managed by the Tuatapere Hump Track Charitable Trust. Advance booking and payment is required for the use of the track and lodges. Permits must be picked up in advance from the Hump Ridge Track office in Tuatapere. For more information, visit the Hump Ridge Track website
Need to Know
The Hump Ridge Track huts offer basic bunk rooms in addition to private rooms with linens. Showers, food, and beverages are available for purchase at the huts and a friendly hut warden will greet you on arrival. This means you can choose how much or little you want to carry in on your back. More information about the packages available on the track can be found here
While it would be possible to do this as a long day run, it could be fun to do it as a multi-day outing since the huts are fully stocked with provisions for purchase. The boardwalks and tramway sections definitely aren't ideal trail surfaces for a run, but if you aren't trying to set any speed records and are just looking for a nice long loop this could fit the bill.
Day 1: Rarakau to Okaka Lodge
From the Rarakau car park, run south to the official start of the Hump Ridge Track. The start of the trail heads through a lowland podocarp forest, and the trail is winding and well-marked with orange triangle DOC blazes.
After this short run through the woods, the track descends a steep gully to a singletrack that winds alongside the beach to a suspension bridge that crosses a wide estuary. There is a small fisherman's hut, and you'll want to head south toward the coast to pick up the track which at this point continues along the beach.
Once you contour around the sandy promontory, the trail continues along the beach which is covered in an assortment of round rocks that have been washed smooth by the rolling waves. It is easiest to cross this section at low tide.
After about 3 km of running along the beach, look for a sign marked "South Coast Track/Hump Ridge Track". This next section can be a little confusing as there are several unmarked junctions with other roads. Generally, keeping to the most well-worn path is your best bet.
After a short and easy climb, the track will come to a junction; head right to start the climb. The next 3 km of the track are a gentle climb on alternating singletrack and boardwalk sections. Here, runners will get to see the amazing work of the Tuatapere community evidenced in the nearly 10 km of pristine boardwalk laid along the length of this private section of track.
After about 4 km of easy running, you'll come the Water Bridge Shelter which makes a great lunch stop. There is a pit toilet, and some benches that make for a nice rest stop. After this, the track crosses a bridge where you can fill up your water by means of a bucket and rope.
Next up is "the Hill", the most challenging part of the trail in terms of vertical gain. After you crest the steepest part of the climb, you'll come to Stag Point, a small clearing where you can enjoy views of the coast, the ocean, and the rolling hills and ridges that you just ascended.
The trail now levels out and heads into an ancient and pristine beech forest that will have you pinching yourself to believe it is real. Running under these beautifully twisted trees covered in moss and lichen is like stepping onto a movie set or into a fairy tale woodland realm.
A short spur trail leads from the main loop to Okaka Lodge. The well-maintained boardwalk allows access to the lodge, but also continues up to the tarns above the lodge where, on a clear day, the 360-degree views of the lakes and mountains of Fiordland are not to be missed.
Day 2: Okaka Lodge to Port Craig
After a night at the Okaka Lodge, continue on a scenic and steady descent along a ridgeline leading to the impressive Edwin Burn viaduct. The views along the ridgeline are expansive with the interior of Fiordland National Park to the west, the Te Waewae Bay to the east, and views of Stewart Island to the south.
About 5 km into this section, you'll reach the Luncheon Rock Shelter, a small dome shelter with benches and a pit toilet that makes a good place for a snack or lunch break before continuing the descent to the Edwin Burn Viaduct.
Next up is a section along the remnant of a logging tramway. You'll be following along a wide path with a few rolling hills. The main challenge of this section is to watch your footing on the slippery boards and to keep an eye open for the old railway spikes that might snag a toe.
The highlight of this section is the Percy Burn Viaduct, which at 125 m long and 36 m high is one of the largest standing timber trestle bridges in the world. The trail will eventually come to the Port Craig Lodge. Take a stroll down to the water to see the remains of the wharf and mill or explore the area around the lodge for an interesting look into the history of the settlement.
Day 3: Port Craig to Rarakau
Leaving behind the historic remnants of Port Craig, the trail continues on more rough-hewn singletrack passing Camp Creek and winding down a small hillside to Breakneck Creek. The trail will then cross Blowhole Beaches before coming to the main junction at Flat Creek. From here, simply retrace your steps along the beach and through the woods to get back to the car park.
Flora & Fauna
Mainly lowland podocarp forest, but some areas of high alpine tussock. Many birds such as robins, bellbirds, tomtits, fantails, tuī, wood pigeons, and perhaps a passing kea or kaka at the higher elevations. You may spot shags, seals, and Hectors Dolphins along the coast or possibly penguins depending on the time of year.
History & Background
Along the track, runners will get to see the amazing work of the Tuatapere community evidenced in the nearly 10 km of pristine boardwalk that has been laid along the length of this private section of track. This was a labor of nearly 13 years by a crew of volunteers and an estimated 25,000 hours of work. The track was officially opened in 2001.
The town of Port Craig was a short-lived settlement that operated to support the logging operations in the area. Take a stroll down around the Port Craig lodge for an interesting look into the history of the settlement. More information can be found on the DOC website