The St James Walkway combines diverse scenery, wildlife and vegetation on an undemanding trail through sub-alpine conservation and reserve areas.
Located partly within the Lewis Pass National Reserve, the track winds through St James Conservation Area and Lake Sumner Forest Park. It's suitable for all levels of fitness and walking experience. The track is well signposted and marked, including stretches of open farm land where cairns and markers indicate the route. It's designed to take 5 days to walk so walkers can enjoy the sub-alpine scenery at a leisurely pace.
Day 1, Lewis Pass entrance > Cannibal Gorge Hut > Ada Pass Hut, 17km
The track leaves the picnic area on the Tarn Nature Walk across a natural open bog. It then enters the bush, descending in a steep zig-zag into Cannibal Gorge on the Maruia River.
A swing bridge crosses Cannibal Gorge to the true right bank. From here it is about 6 km to the Cannibal Gorge Hut. Past the hut the track follows an easy grade alongside the Maruia River, through beech forest and open alpine fields (prone to avalanches) to the Ada Pass Hut (3 km - 30 minutes).
Day 2, Ada Pass Hut > St James Conservation Area > Christopher Hut, 10.5km
From the hut, the track leads through bush over Ada Pass into the Ada valley. Beech forest gradually gives way to open areas of tussock with tongues of mountain beech.
Orange triangles at the clearing edge indicate the start of the track through bush areas, following the true right bank of the Ada River.
At the confluence of the Ada and Christopher rivers, the track passes a historic hut. The Christopher Hut is 10 - 15 minutes’ walk from this point, close to the edge of the bush, about 350 metres from the Ada River.
Day 3, Christopher Hut > Anne Hut, 13km
From Christopher Hut the route goes down the valley along the true right bank of the Ada River to where the open flats converge with the river and toe of the hill, about 1.5 km above the Ada homestead. The track eventually joins a vehicle track for some distance to the Henry / Waiau valley confluence. From here it passes through matagouri thickets and some open rolling and swampy ground and rejoins the vehicle track (up till now the track is on the true left bank of the Henry River).
After crossing a suspension bridge over the Henry River the track follows close to the true right bank, rejoining the vehicle track through to the Anne Hut.
Day 4, Anne Hut > Boyle Flats Hut, 17km
The track crosses a footbridge over the Anne River to gain access to the true left, and 2 km upriver it crosses another footbridge back to the true right. The track continues up and over the Anne Saddle into the Boyle Valley. Orange pole markers indicate the route over the Boyle Flats. The true left bank is followed to a suspension bridge over the Boyle River, 100 metres from the Boyle Flat Hut.
Day 5, Boyle Flat Hut > Boyle Settlement, 14.5km
After re-crossing the footbridge to join the walkway route on the true left bank, follow markers to the start of the track through the gorge.
A suspension bridge crosses the Boyle River, and then the track follows the true right bank to another suspension bridge. A vehicle track is joined and followed down the valley to the shelter and car park at State Highway 7 (Lewis Pass Road), by the Boyle Settlement.