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Hump Ridge Track Guided Walk

Panorama from the summit of the Hump Ridge Track

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.

History

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.

Hector's Dolphins
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. 

Track info

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.

What you need to bring for your Hump Ridge Guided Walk

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.

Essential items you will need to bring with you: 

  • Day pack with waterproof liner and cover 
  • Good waterproof raincoat with hood
  • Boots or strong walking shoes, preferably with ankle support
  • Woollen (merino) or polypropylene thermal underwear (top & bottom) – at least two sets.
  • Polar fleece jacket or top
  • T shirt for fine weather
  • Warm hat – fleece or woollen
  • Gloves
  • Pair of shorts and trousers
  • Woollen or thermal socks – three pairs
  • Underwear
  • Pair of light shoes or sandals
  • Change of clothing for the evening
  • Sunscreen
  • Blister pack and or foot fleece
  • Small personal torch
  • Personal medicine, toilet bag
  • Camera
  • Water bottle

Optional items you may want to include:

  • Sun hat
  • Swimsuit
  • Spare laces
  • Journal
  • Walking poles
  • Money for additional drinks*

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.

Fitness Level

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.

Trip Reviews

  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 4984 reviews)

    Outstanding Trip!!

    This trip was especially great because of our guides, Ben and Emma. I cannot say enough good things about those two. They were extremely patient, energetic, and very sincere.
    The trip has a wide variety of activities that allowed us to see and experience most of the South Island, keeping us away from the more congested tourist hangouts. I really felt like we saw the true South Island and not just the tourist trap attractions.
    The only reason I have not given it a 5 star rating is because my wife and I are very active and do very challenging trips that most people would never want to take on. It was not a trip of a lifetime for me only because of that. Take "trip of a lifetime" away from the 5 stars and just have excellent and I would mark that. Excellent trip!!!!
    Dave Mastolier Review Image
    – Alaska, United States
    Rimu, December 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 4984 reviews)

    2017 Oct/Nov Rimu

    My 2017 Rimu trip was fantastic! Somehow our fabulous guides Ben and Emma arranged for clear sunny skies, a great mix of travelers, and an all around fun time. Seriously though, our group of 10/11 (we had a late addition) got along well from day 1 - we learned about each other's backgrounds, played cards and dice games, and shared bottles of wine. Ben and Emma worked tirelessly to make sure our travels were smooth - often 16+ hour days for them. Emma cooked wonderful meals for us and made sure everyone's dietary requests were met. Ben drove Whina (our bus) so well for so many hours to get us to our destinations - we'll never forget the tunnel! And they both were great guides on the hikes. Thanks for all the wonderful memories!
    Jeanne Stallings Review Image
    – North Carolina, United States
    Rimu, December 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 4984 reviews)

    Rimu is Wonderful - A few tips if you plan to go...

    My husband and I took the Rimu trip in early November 2016 and had a really terrific time. I encourage everyone who is seriously considering the Rimu to go ahead and sign up. That being said, with all of the fun we had, I do wish we had known a few things ahead of time. I include these tips for you, the soon-to-be Rimu traveler, to make your trip more enjoyable. However, I can promise that even if you do none of these things, you will still have a marvelous time:

    1. Guys, if you opt to snorkel with the fur seals be sure to shave your mustache before you leave home. It seems obvious now, but it never occurred to my husband that the mask wouldn’t seal properly to his face with his mustache. Do yourself a favor and shave it off or spend the afternoon dealing with a leaky mask.

    2. I also wish I had known just how intense and challenging the 3-day multi-hike through Nelson Lakes would be. If you’re an office worker and occasional hiker like me, then I encourage you to take this trip but do lots of practice/fitness training in advance. Load up your pack and get on the stair-master or start climbing really steep hills. The hike is gorgeous and worth it, but I can promise you it will be a lot more enjoyable if you’re in good shape for it. Also, there are no showers at the huts and only latrines (port-a-potties) for toilets, so bring baby wipes for exactly the same reason you would use them on a baby (wink wink). And also bring hiking poles! I know it says optional on the gear list, but I really found them to be essential. As for the water bottle – leave that at home and invest in a good water bladder system (a “Camelback” or similar). We found the water bottle to be a hassle to take in and out of the bag (forcing us to stop each time), which made us want to drink less water. The water bladders allow you to keep moving and you’ll find you’re more hydrated.

    3. The sea kayaks (and, honestly, New Zealand in general) are not made for people over 6’ 2” in height (187 cm). Watch your head everywhere you go, and as for the kayaks, it may help to have the taller person sit in the front seat of the kayak instead of the back.

    4. Also, pack enough clothes for a week and then expect to do laundry. Bring some travel-sized laundry soap packets to help save money and make sure you have enough 1$ and 2$ coins for laundry before you get to the hotel (the machines are generally pretty expensive: about $3 for the washer and between $3 - $5 for 30 minutes in the dryer).

    5. Bring good cycling shorts – yes, the ones with the weird-feeling padding on the bum. It will help prevent the dreaded ‘grumpy grundle’.

    6. And finally, a heads-up to my fellow outgoing introverts (yes, we exist): this trip contains long days of social interaction (think 7:15 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.), with few breaks for introspection/solitude. If you need some down time, skip dinner or unfurl all of the emergency blankets and build your own fort at the back of the bus and hang a sign that says, “Stay Out!” (just kidding about that last one).

    A great big thank you to our guides, Rachel and Jordan, who were informative and helpful beyond measure. How they managed to remain cheerful and engaging considering they had to do all of the exertion we clients had to do, plus all of their work on top of it, is beyond me. They are the embodiment of Kiwi hospitality! We are already thinking of coming back for a North Island tour sometime soon.
    Lauren Gerth Review Image
    – Missouri, United States
    Rimu, November 2016
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 4984 reviews)

    Rimu - NZ South Island

    Our Rimu trip with Ken and Elder was truly a trip of a lifetime. The two of them were the perfect pair to lead our adventure -kind, warm, funny, and incredibly encouraging (for those of us who weren't quite sure we'd make it up the mountain!) My husband and I were fortunate to have both of our adult boys join us which made for a very memorable experience. New Zealand's South Island offered some of the most breathtaking landscapes we had ever seen. The hiking, kayaking, and biking was challenging and exhilarating. It was hard to say goodbye to the group who became like family. We have stayed in touch with some, and look forward to our next trip with Active.
    Gigi Altaras Review Image
    – Washington, United States
    Rimu, November 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 4984 reviews)

    Trip of a Lifetime!

    This was such an amazing trip! Our guides Ash and Astrid did a fantastic job. Everyday was met with amazing views and challenging activities like kayaking, biking and hiking. Two weeks felt like a month because we did so much in one day but there was still some down time to enjoy the beauty that is New Zealand. A must for anyone who wants to be active in New Zealand.
    Kilo Piedra Review Image
    – California, United States
    Rimu, March 2018

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Why travel with Active Adventures?

Above all, we aim to be amazing hosts. We're proud of our kiwi roots, and our professional, warm and relaxed style of running trips around the world is unforgettable.

We're VERY picky about who we select to work in our team, and we have people from all over the world lining up to guide our trips. So we get to hire the absolute BEST in the business.

As soon as you get off the plane, we've got all the details of your vacation covered – top notch meals, comfortable transport & accommodation, amazing guides and INCREDIBLE service.

Whether you’re new to adventure travel, or you’ve never travelled in a group before, you’ll find yourself arriving home positively different from when you left.

With our small groups (no more than 14), you'll get to know our team, your fellow travellers, and have the flexibility and freedom to do as much (or as little!) as you like.

It's all about getting there under your own steam – on foot, in a sea kayak, or by bike. What better way is there to experience mind blowing scenery? If it's your first time, no worries – our expert guides have got you covered.

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