What You Need to Know About the Hump Ridge Track
Hike among a UNESCO World Heritage Area in the glorious Fiordland National Park, away from the crowds and immersed in pure wilderness. The Hump Ridge Track is a 62km (38.5-mile) 3-day loop track in the southern reaches of the Fiordland National Park. The nearest town is the western Southland town of Tuatapere. We’ll guide you through the trail in this complete guide to the Hump Ridge Track.
The Hump Ridge Track is a little different to your standard multi-day hiking trail in New Zealand. Instead of simple Department of Conservation (DOC) huts, the accommodation on the trail is well-appointed lodges. Instead of booking your accommodation through the DOC, your hike is organised with the Tuatapere Hump Ridge Charitable Trust, which has an office located in Tuatapere.
[Update: The Hump Ridge Track is set to become a New Zealand Great Walk by 2022 receiving a NZ$5 million upgrade. We will endeavour to keep this article updated as changes occur].
What to Take on the Hump Ridge Track
Equipment to Take on the Hump Ridge Track
- 40-60L backpack (see How to Choose a Good Backpack)
- Sleeping bag (3-4 season)
- First aid kit (see Health Tips For Travelling in New Zealand for what to include)
- Survival kit (survival blanket, whistle, paper, pencil and high-energy snack food)
- 1-2L drink bottle
- Matches or lighter in a waterproof container
- Toiletries (don’t use soap in lakes and streams)
- Rubbish bag (you must take all rubbish out with you)
- Tickets and ID (for use of the huts and transportation)
- Earplugs (for hut bunk rooms)
Clothing to Take on the Hump Ridge Track
- Hiking boots (check out How to Choose a Good Pair of Hiking Boots)
- Wool or polypropylene socks
- Hiking pants/shorts (quick-dry material)
- Wool or polypropylene under-layers for top and bottom
- Mid-layers (wool or polar fleece)
- Waterproof and windproof raincoat
- Waterproof and windproof overtrousers
- Hat and gloves (in colder months)
- Sunhat and sunglasses
Food to Take on the Hump Ridge Track
- High-energy snacks (muesli bars, biscuits, nuts, etc.)
- Breakfast meals (firm bread, honey, etc.)
- Lunch meals (fruit, sandwiches prepared before the trip)
- Dinner meals (pasta, rice, dried vegetables, fruit, cheese, freeze-dried meals) and utensils to eat it with like a knife, fork, container, cleaning kit, (and your own gas burner in winter when fuel is not provided).
For a more in-depth guide, take a look at How to Prepare for a Great Walk in New Zealand.
Accommodation on the Hump Ridge Track
There are two lodges on the Hump Ridge Track – the only accommodation to stay in during the 3-day/2-night walk.
As most hikers walk the track anticlockwise, the first hut to stay in is the Okaka Lodge and the second is the Port Craig Lodge.
- Bunk rooms – pillow and pillowcase provided
- Private double rooms
- Gas-heated lounge and dining area
- Hot showers (fee applies)
- Flush toilets
- Kitchen with cooking gas, crockery, cutlery, pans and utensils
- Hot porridge and brown sugar for breakfast
- Lodge manager
- Lodge bar and shop
Lodges Do Not Include
- Power sockets
Call into the Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track office to pick you your lodge pass, sign onto the track and receive a briefing. The office is located on 31 Orawia Road, Tuatapere, open 7.30am-5.30pm. Your lodge passes are bought as packages, the Freedom Walk package gets you into a bunk room. Upgrades are available for private double rooms, amongst other perks. After the walk, visit the office to return your lodge pass and sign out from the track.
While you’re in Tuatapere, check out 7 Amazing Things to Do in Tuatapere.
Transportation to the Hump Ridge Track Great Walk
The Hump Ridge Track is located in southern Fiordland National Park on the South Island. The closest town to the track is Tuatapere, which makes a good base at the beginning and end of the trail. See 7 Amazing Things to Do in Tuatapere for more ways to spend your time there.
Driving to the Hump Ridge Track
The Hump Ridge Track is an easy trail to get to for both those with and without their own transport. If you have your own vehicle, it’s possible to park in the Rarakau Car Park where the trail begins and ends. The Rarakau Car Park is 21.5km (13 miles) from Tuatapere and takes around 30 minutes to drive there. Note that part of the road is unsealed leading up to the car park.
Shuttles to Tuatapere and the Hump Ridge Track
Alternatively, shuttle services provide a convenient way to get between the Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track office and the Hump Ridge Track. Shuttles depart daily in summer and run on a schedule in the shoulder seasons. The shuttle must be booked in advance and can be booked when buying your lodge passes.
A Quick Track Description of the Hump Ridge Track Great Walk
The Hump Ridge Track is a well-formed trail with signage to follow along the way, making it difficult to lose your way. While there may be small streams to cross, waterways have a bridge to cross to get over safely. The three-day walk has some steep sections and a few parts with more rugged terrain so a reasonable good fitness is required to do this walk comfortably.
As for the views, hikers can expect glorious sub-alpine landscapes scattered with limestone tors, combined with a mix of ancient forest and coastal scenery. History is woven into the landscape too through the form of viaducts long forgotten in the Fiordland forest.
Hump Ridge Track Great Walk Overview
Distance: 61km (38 miles)
Time: 3 Days
Day 1: Rarakau Car Park to Okaka Lodge (21km/13 miles, 7-9 hours)
Day 2: Okaka Lodge to Port Craig Lodge (21km/13 miles, 7-9 hours)
Day 3: Port Craig Lodge to Rarakau Car Park (20km/12 miles, 5-7 hours)
See below for a day-to-day description of the track.
Day 1 – Rarakau Car Park to Okaka Lodge
Distance: 21km (13 miles)
Time: 7-9 hours
Rarakau Car Park to Waikoau River – 3km/1.9 Miles/30 Minutes
The Hump Ridge Track starts from Rarakau car park, which is located down a narrow gravel road, 21km (13 miles) drive from Tuatapere. The track is signposted about 200m (218 yards) before the car park.
The track begins by taking you through the forest and across the clifftops before descending down the to the shoreline to meet with the Waikoau River and swing bridge.
Waikoau River to Track Burn – 4km/2.5 Miles/1 Hour
Pass fisherman huts before walking alongside the sweeping Bluecliffs Beach. This section of the walk is about 3km (1.8 miles) until you reach Stoney Creek. You can either cross the creek on foot or use the footbridge (about 20m/22 yards inland) at high tide or during flood. Continue along the coast where you’ll rejoin a 4WD track above the beach. Markers show you the way to the Track Burn River and a swing bridge.
Track Burn to Flat Creek – 3km/1.8 Miles/45 Minutes
From the swing bridge, follow the signs to a track entering the Fiordland National Park. This section follows the coast for approximately 45 minutes before reaching Flat Creek with a high swing bridge across the stream. Across the bridge, follow the sign to Okaka Lodge.
Flat Creek to Water Bridge – 4.5km/2.8 Miles/1h15mins
The track steadily ascends through forest and over boardwalks crossing one swing bridge and two wooden bridges. The second bridge is Water Bridge where a billy (bucket) is located to refill your drinking water. There is also a toilet and shelter signposted 50m from the bridge.
Water Bridge to Stag Point – 5.5km/3.4 Miles/2h30mins
It’s now a steep and steady climb to Stag Point through lush forest and above the bushline (treeline). Native parrots called kaka and kakariki can often be seen or heard along this section of the track. From Stag Point, enjoy views across Te Wae Wae Bay, out to Stewart Island and even get a glimpse of Okaka Lodge.
Stag Point to Okaka Lodge – 2km/1.2 Miles/1 Hour
The track sidles around a spur to reach a junction on the summit ridge. Turn right at the junction and follow the boardwalk to Okaka Lodge and an optional loop walk.
Okaka Lodge Loop Walk – 45 Minutes
This boarded loop walk among tors and tarns features expansive views of the Fiordland National Park. It’s common to spot kea parrots on this trail.
Day 2 – Okaka Lodge to Port Craig Lodge
Distance: 21km (13 miles)
Time: 7-9 hours
Okaka Lodge to Luncheon Rock – 5.7km/3.5 Miles/2h30mins
Backtrack along the boardwalk to the summit ridge junction. This time, take the signed track to Port Craig. This section of the track is undulating along the Hump Ridge until you reach Luncheon Rock. This exposed area of the track can be difficult to walk in high winds so take care. Luncheon Rock has a toilet, drinking water and a shelter.
Luncheon Rock to Edwin Burn Viaduct – 6.1km/3.8 Miles/2 Hours
After enjoying the views from Luncheon Rock, continue along the track which starts to descend into the forest. This part of the track is steep and can be slippery. The trail brings you closer to the coast and emerges at the Edwin Burn Viaduct.
Edwin Burn Viaduct to Percy Burn Viaduct – 1.7km/1 Mile/30 Minutes
The trail becomes an old tramline, crossing the Edwin Viaduct to the Percy Burn Viaduct. The Percy Burn Viaduct is the largest wooden viaduct in the Southern Hemisphere. You will not be crossing this viaduct.
Percy Burn Viaduct to Port Craig Lodge – 7.2km/4.5 Miles/2 Hours
Instead of crossing the viaduct, follow the tramline track to Port Craig. This part of the walk features the old Port Craig school. Continue past the school and follow the signposts to Port Craig Lodge.
Port Craig Heritage Walk & Mussel Beach – 10 Minutes
A leaflet is available at the lodge with information for a heritage walk signposted nearby. Alternatively, head down a 10-minute track to Mussel Beach with relics from the sawmilling history of the area, as well as the opportunity to spot wildlife like penguins and Hector’s dolphins.
Day 3 – Port Craig Lodge to Rarakau Car Park
Distance: 20km (12.4 miles)
Time: 5-7 hours
Port Craig Lodge to Flat Creek – 10.2km/6.3 Miles/2h30mins
Continue along the trail from Port Craig to Flat Creek, taking you through the forest for about 1h30mins until you emerge at the coastline at Breakneck Creek. The track climbs over the headland and drops back down to the coast onto Blowholes Beach. Walk along the beach to a post marked with a colourful buoy to indicate where the track picks up again. The track takes you over another headland to the next beach. Cross this beach where the track picks up then drops you off at a small cove. At the cove, follow the track up onto a coastal terrace to the junction to Okaka Lodge and Flat Creek. Follow the track to Flat Creek.
Flat Creek to Track Burn – 3km/1.9 Miles/45 Minutes & Track Burn to Rarakau Car Park – 7km/4.3 Miles/2 Hours
Retrace your steps from Day 1, crossing the Flat Creek swing bridge back to the Rarakau car park.