Showing posts with label Southland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Southland. Show all posts

Sunday, 14 July 2019

A new Great Walk for New Zealand

Humpridge Track to become the 11th Great Walk


We had some tramping news over the weekend, after two years of discussion a new Great Walk has been announced. The existing Humpridge Track will be receiving a couple of new huts and a track upgrade to bring it up to Great Walk standard. Total cost of the project will be $5 million dollars but this is likely to increase as these projects always cost more than estimated. 

Humpridge Track: sun setting from near Ohaka Lodge

This is the second new Great Walk in the last four years and is part of a wider DOC strategy to build more Great Walks around the country. There is a 30+ year gap between these two new walks and the last, the Kepler Track which was opened in 1988. 

Humpridge Track:map showing the track and local area

 It is hoped that building these new tramping tracks will stimulate the local economy while taking some of the pressure off the existing Great Walk track network. 

The Humpridge Track


The Humpridge Track is a 61km long track near Tuatapere in Southland. While the track was built by a local trust the land it sits on belongs to Fiordland National Park. The Tuatapere-Humpridge Track currently exists as a three day, two night trip with one night spent at Okaka Lodge on the crest of the Humpridge. 

Humpridge Track: Ohaka Lodge, Te Waewae Bay in distance

Your second night is spent at Port Craig after descending from the Humpridge, there is a lodge and a DOC hut at the old abandoned port. The last day features a walk along the coastal forest reminiscent of the Heaphy Track...no Nikau Palms though, they dont grow down here. 

Humpridge Track: DOC Port Craig Schoolhouse Hut


The track features a mix of regrowth native bush, lush forest, coastal track and sub alpine tussock with excellent views out to Te Waewae Bay from the crest of the ridge. There are rock tors and a series of tarns on the ridge top. There are also excellent views to the north encompassing Lake Haukoro and the southern part of Fiordland NP. 


Humpridge Track: the tarns and tors on the Humpridge


It kind of reminds me of the Kepler Track as it has a similar profile: long & flat at the start followed by a significant climb (900 meters), a long walk across the tops and then a descent back down to the finish on the coast. You cross a number of historic wooden viaducts on the way including ones over the Edwin Burn and Percy Burn.


Humpridge Track: the viaduct over the Percy Burn

I have always had this track on my tramping bucket list and was most of the way through organising a trip for December 2017. Unfortunately my marriage broke up and I was temporarily unable to complete the trip due to lack of funds. I have been thinking about the area recently but this just gives me more incentive to get down there and tramp. 

Humpridge Great Walk: looking ahead...


If the upgrade work follows the path taken by the Paparoa/Pike 29 track I would expect it to join the Great Walk roster some time in 2022. It seems to take about 2-3 years for a track to open once it has been announced. The completion of the Paparoa/Pike 29 is late as much of it is new track cut through some heinous terrain. The Humpridge currently has a tramping track so in fact it may take less time to bring it up to Great Walk standard.

Humpridge Track: in the forest on the way to Humpridge


The curent Humpridge Track has guided and unguided tramping options, I expect this will continue.  There will probably be DOC huts and private lodges co-located as on the Routeburn and Milford Tracks. As yet the information about the upgrade is slim so watch this space...


Humpridge Track: Ohaka Lodge, Te Waewae Bay in distance


I will probably wait until the new huts are completed before visiting but if the opportunity arrives to walk the Humpridge Track then I will take it.