This popular hike offers stunning forest, river and alpine vistas as it winds its way up the Copland Valley towards the Welcome Flat Hot Pools.
This popular hike offers stunning forest, river and alpine vistas as it winds its way up the Copland Valley, in Westland Tai Poutini National Park. Walkers usually complete this track as an overnight trip, staying in the Welcome Flat Department of Conservation Hut overnight. At the end of the first day of walking (18km/11 miles), weary hikers will love a soak in the naturally heated Welcome Flat hot pools. The hot pools are a short stroll from the hut and have stunning views of the Sierra Range.
The start of the Copland Track is located 150m inland from where the Copland Valley is signposted on State Highway 6, 26km south of Fox Glacier. The turnoff to the car park is well sign-posted on the northern side of the Karangarua River bridge. Welcome Flat Hut is accessible year-round, but summer and autumn (December through May) are great times of year to enjoy this track – snow and ice can be challenging in winter and spring.
Bookings can be completed online for the 31-bunk Welcome Flat Hut. Ensure that you check the weather with the nearest Department of Conservation office before departing.
Day 1, Carpark > Welcome Flat Hut, 18km (11miles)
Beginning with a crossing of Rough Creek, just in front of the car park, day 1 of hiking takes around 7 hours. After the creek crossing, pick up the track from the orange marker and follow the path through the forest. The track alternates from river terraces with grassy clearings to bouldery riverbed. The bridge over Architect Creek marks the halfway point of day 1. Beyond this, the trail continues through fuchsia and ribbonwood forest towards Shiels Creek before emerging into the Welcome Flat clearing.
Spend the evening soaking in the hot pools, enjoying the modern hut facilities and admiring the grand alpine views.
Day 2, Welcome Flat Hut > Carpark, 18km (11 miles)
Because this is an out-and-back track, hikers retrace their steps back to the car park on day 2.
Before setting out on this hike, it's a good idea to know the ropes of outdoor safety in New Zealand.