Features: Birding — Views
Dogs: No Dogs
The boardwalks have a lot of steps which could turn this into a bit of a stair stepper workout, and the section climbing the ridge is steep and would involve a bit of scrambling. Also, this part of the Hump Ridge Track
is private so be sure to get a permit to spend the night at Okaka Lodge or if you are ambitious and planning to run the full loop, you'll still need permission to run this part of the track.
This section of the Hump Ridge Track
climbs steadily through a verdant and pristine podocarp forest before climbing "the Hill" to an otherworldly landscape of ancient beech trees and outstanding views of the coast and the expansive mountains of Fiordland National Park.
The first 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.
There are some roots and rough sections to navigate, but the easy-going running on the boardwalks more than makes up for the sections where you have to watch your footing. The undergrowth is a carpet of ferns; in sections, they are nearly waist high. Other sections are carpeted with many varieties of moss that grows on the everything from the rocks, roots, fallen trees, and living trees.
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 break. After this, the track crosses a bridge where you can fill up your water by means of a bucket and rope (the stream is a long ways down).
Next up is "the Hill", the most challenging part of the trail in terms of vertical gain. Some sections will require using your hands to climb up very steep slopes aided by some roots that provide a welcome foot or handhold. This steep climb up the ridge will well-reward you for your efforts.
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 gnarled beech trees which are covered in moss and lichen is like stepping onto a movie set or into a fairy tale woodland realm. The trail continues to climb gradually until coming to a junction with the Hump Ridge: Okaka Hut Track
Lowland podocarp forest to ancient beech woods to 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.