Hiking the Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track

Deep in Southern New Zealand lies the Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track, a unique hiking experience that provides a fascinating blend of nature and heritage.

You’ll walk through wild, beautiful New Zealand on this multi-day hiking adventure. The Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track incorporates a portion of the Fiordland National Park with panoramic alpine ridges, ancient forest and deserted coastline. Along the way, you’ll stumble across historic viaducts, listen to the melody of native birdsong and spot Hector’s Dolphins swimming off the coastline. A 55 km loop walk, the track follows the south coast of the South Island and allows hikers access to real backcountry New Zealand.

Rare Dolphins on Day One

Hector’s Dolphins are the smallest and rarest marine dolphins in the world – there are only a few thousand that remain; many of which like to feed in the waters off Te Waewae Bay, a beach walkers cross during their first day on the track. Hector’s Dolphins are easy to identify by their small, 1.5m-long bodies, as well as the distinctive black markings on their fins, tails and flippers.

Heritage & History

The track is dotted with fascinating historical sites and old viaducts (bridges), remnants of the region’s early logging history. The Port Craig Sawmill is particularly interesting – during its operation between 1916 and 1938, it was the most productive mill in New Zealand, featuring all stages of the timber industry. More than 150 men were employed who processed the local coastal forest, shipping it directly to offshore markets. Logs were carted to the mill aboard a tramway which incorporated four viaducts to carry the tram lines over valleys and ravines.

Hikers walk across these viaducts as part of the Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track – it’s easy to imagine the area abuzz with the logging activity of the early 1900’s. Hikers reach the Port Craig Sawmill on day two of the walk, and today remnants of the baker’s oven, the first mill, and the Port Craig School remain. It’s a fascinating place to explore, and the school has been transformed into a Department of Conservation hut – so hikers can even sleep the night there.

Located at the very bottom of the South Island, the Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track is a great way to experience some of New Zealand’s most wild, untouched country before heading north to the alpine lakes, mountains and waterfalls found inland from Christchurch. New Zealand Trails offers fully guided, small group walking tours throughout this part of the country; itinerary highlights include Fox Glacier, the Milford Track, Queenstown and Aoraki Mount Cook.

Combining a few days of independent walking on the Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track with a guided walking tour of the central South Island is the perfect way to make the most of New Zealand’s unique southern backcountry as well as the spectacular alpine beauty found further north.

We’d love to help you combine an experience on the Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track with one of our central South Island New Zealand walking tours – please contact us now. For more information about our tours, please visit our website.

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