The Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track is a unique partnership between the Tuatapere community and the Department of Conservation, it's a private walk operated by a Charitable Trust, and for this reason it is not currently included in any of our adventure itineraries. Don't sweat it though, there are over 500 incredible hiking trails down here in New Zealand, so you're spoilt for choice.
The Hump Ridge track is a 3 day loop trail at the very bottom of the New Zealand. This track takes you over 33miles (53km); from sea level up to the sub-alpine area of the Hump Ridge, and then over historic viaducts and past ancient villages in the midst of native beech forests, and returns to the start along the south coast beaches of Fiordland National Park. This track is New Zealand’s newest guided walk (until the new Pike29 memorial track opens on the South Island's West Coast) so you don’t have to carry a heavy backpack, just your clothes for the day and your lunch, as everything else is taken by helicopter from lodge to lodge for you. The lodges are new too, with all linen, hot showers, and meals provided. Summer is the perfect time to hike the Hump Ridge track, as Southland has the longest daylight hours in New Zealand.
Port Craig was once a major port for the South Coast. A small logging town that started in 1916 it boomed to over 200 hardy bushmen and their families in it’s prime. The Marlborough Timber Company planned to log one of the last significant coastal forests here, so they built a large sawmill and an extensive tramway system, along with a town and port facilities, however this was all shut down in 1929 in the face of a looming depression. Now, you can follow the Heritage trail around this once prosperous township and feel the sense of Port Craig as it once was.
Trains and viaducts
Percy Burn Viaduct is the largest surviving wooden viaduct in the world. A former logging tramway the viaduct was built in 1923 to allow logs to be carried using steam engines from Waitutu Forest through to Port Craig for milling. The Percy Burn stream cuts a deep gorge beneath the viaduct, which is 36 metres high and 125 metres (410 feet) long. Unfortunately, the timber here was not of high quality and proved costly to log, so together with falling timber prices the Port Craig operation was abandoned. As the viaduct was considered to be a magnificent feat of engineering, it was restored in the 1990s and included as part of the new Hump Ridge walking track.
Fred and Myrtle
Legend has it that Fred and Myrtle met when they were living in Port Craig, a remote port town on New Zealand's south coast. Fred and Myrtle were both working for the Port Craig Timber Company when they got married and went away for a short honeymoon to celebrate. Upon their return home they discovered that their town had packed up and ceased to be overnight (literally) and they now had no jobs, no friends and no livelihood - eek! Fred and Myrtle Flutey decided to move to Bluff, where Fred collected Paua (Abalone) shells for a hobby and polished them, so Myrtle decided to hang these on the walls of her house. Fred and Myrtle hosted an open home every day for 37 years, and until year 2000 more than a million visitors from all over the world came to Bluff to see the Paua House.
One of the smallest marine dolphins in the world, Hector's dolphins grow to no more than 1.5 metres in length. Only found in New Zealand's waters, this is the most easily recognised dolphin in New Zealand as being a distinctive grey colour with black and white markings and a round dorsal fin. Named after Sir James Hector who was the curator of the Colonial Museum in Wellington, now Museum of New Zealand & also known as Te Papa.
A pre-departure briefing starts 5.30pm the evening prior at the track office with drinks and nibbles. A track guide explains the details of the track, and arrange storage for any surplus luggage.
Day 1: After breakfast at your hotel in Tuatapere you’ll take a short helicopter ride over Te Waewae Bay to the start of the walk. You will then wander along boardwalks through the dense forest and then hike up the Hump Ridge to the top. When you arrive at Okaka Lodge you’ll have spectacular views in every direction – of Lakes Poteriteri and Hauroko, and the many mountain ranges of Fiordland National Park . If you still have energy then a detour to the summit rocks, tors and tarns a bit further on is a definite must (or you can pop out before breakfast tomorrow morning instead).
Day 2: After breakfast you wander down the Hump Ridge all the way to the sea – pausing a while at every viewpoint to make out Solander Island further south, and Stewart Island just behind that. After lunch at the track junction you’ll walk along the old tram line and over the mighty wooden viaducts to the historic Port Craig village. Once you’ve arrived to your lodgings at Port Craig, meander down the side track to the beach and check out the Hector’s dolphins that live at the old wharf poles in the surf.
Day 3:For this last day you will first walk out along coastal forest trails, then along beautiful beaches (if the tide is right, otherwise we’ll stick to the inland track!) to the point that we started at a few days ago, and then back in to Tuatapere for a celebration of our 3 day journey.
At the pre-departure briefing in Tuatapere there are day packs, hiking poles, gaiters and raincoats available for your use if you require, or you can bring your own.
A special feature of the Hump Ridge Guided Walk is the provision of the daily helicopter flights to transport your luggage. You will need a large pack or sports bag for this (soft bags, not hard suitcases as these do not transport well in helicopters), however there is a maximum weight of 15kg per person. Excess luggage may be left in the office while you're away.
We do not recommend that you walk in cotton garments, jeans or silk thermals. Perspiration means you are likely to feel damp and cold inside the best raincoat. We recommend you place all your clothing inside your pack liner for added rain protection. Keep your pack as light as possible while still taking the essentials.
Each day you will carry your day pack with packed lunch and personal items that you may require throughout the day, eg water, camera, hats, warm layer, medications, etc.
* 3-course evening meals and New Zealand wine is provided each evening, as well as breakfast and picnic lunches (which you carry). There are additional NZ wines and beverages available for sale at both lodges.
A moderate to high level of fitness is required to complete this walk. The first day of the walk you climb over 800 metres, so staircase or hill climbing is strongly recommended as part of your pre trip walking regime, and wearing hiking boots which provide firm ankle support when hiking over rough terrain of rocks and tree roots. If you are not a regular walker we suggest you begin a daily walking regime 6-8 weeks prior to departure, gradually increasing the distance you walk, carrying a backpack.
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