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The Tūātapere Hump Ridge Track

Published
January 15, 2021
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THE Tūātapere Hump Ridge Track, soon to become New Zealand’s newest Great Walk, is near the town of Tūātapere, west of Invercargill. The track is managed by Tūātapere Humpridge Track, a charitable trust set up via a partnership formed between the New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) and the local community. The trust offers a range of tour packages such as guided tours and helicopter rides, and it is well worth consulting its website, shown above, even if you are just a more ordinary sort of tramper.

A three-day loop track along the south coast of New Zealand, the Hump Ridge Track (for short) covers fifty-five kilometres of beaches, forests and subalpine terrain. The track is shown in black in the map that follows.

It’s also possible, in this area, to tramp over the Hump Ridge by quite a different course, varying from a four-wheel drive road to a poled route, to get to Poteriteri Hut on Lake Poteriteri, the biggest lake in New Zealand without road access.

The Tūātapere Hump Ridge Track (black) and the 4WD Road/Track/Route to Poteriteri Hut (grey). LINZ via NZ Topo Map, 2021. The three big lakes shown are, from west to east, Poteriteri, Hauroko and Monowai.

The night before the tramp, I stayed in Tūātapere at a backpackers’ hostel. Unfortunately, just as I was trying to get to sleep, the local youth began doing burnouts outside my window in their cars. There were people partying on the street and in the hostel until four o’clock in the morning.

After a patchy night’s sleep, I started the track and soon met a cigarette-smoking businessman from Hamilton who threw his cigarettes in the bush as he was tramping. I also met and tramped with a Dutch girl who had been tramping around New Zealand for four months. The sunset on the first night was so beautiful,and you could even see Rakiura/Stewart Island in the distance. As well as witnessing the stunning views, walkers on the track can also cross some of the world’s tallest wooden railway viaducts.

After completing the Hump Ridge Track, I returned to the same hotel in Tūātapere. The owner refunded my first night’s fees and then gave me a free night and a lift to Invercargill the next day, which was a great example of southern hospitality and more than made up for my issues on the first night.

Once in Invercargill, I met the DOC manager responsible for volunteer hut wardens, who took me shopping. Here I was to get the food I needed for my next adventure: a two-week stint at the Port William Hut in Rakiura/Stewart Island at the start of the North West Circuit Track.

Additional Resources:

TūātapereHumpridge Track: humpridgetrack.co.nz

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