St James Walkway and the Lewis Pass Tops

December 4, 2020
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St James Station, after which the St JamesWalkway was named, was acquired by the New Zealand Government in 2008 and incorporatedinto a wider St James Conservation Area. The Lewis Pass Tops are just on theother side of State Highway 7, in Lewis Pass National Reserve. (DOC graphics,from press release 'St James Station', 8 October 2008.)


THE St James Walkway is named afterthe former St James Station upon which most of the walkway’s sixty-sixkilometres is located.

By New Zealand standards the St James Walkway is acomparatively easy tramp, though there is a lot of exposure to Alpine weather.Most of the distance is tramped on river flats, but nowhere is below fivehundred metres of elevation and the highest point, the Anne Saddle, is overeleven hundred metres up. There are eight huts along the way.

The St James is in one of my favourite parts of New Zealand,the Lewis Pass / Muruia Valley area in the middle of the northern half of theSouthern Alps.

The St James Walkway is reached by means of State Highway 7,which zigzags through the area. There are numerous other tramps off to the sideof State Highway 7 in the Lewis Pass / Maruia Valley area, such as the LakeDaniell (formerly lake Daniells) tramp, Lake Christabel, the Lewis Tops Track,and others.

The Maruia Valley is also famous as the place where a keydocument of the modern conservation era, the Maruia Declaration, was firstsigned in 1975. Circulated as an ultimately successful petition against thelogging of native forests, it gained 340,000 signatures by 1977, which at thetime meant that over one New Zealander in ten signed it and a still higherproportion of adults.



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