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The Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track is one of Southland's hidden secrets. This 55km, 3 day loop walk takes trampers along the south coast of New Zealand, up to the sub-alpine zone of the Hump Ridge, and over historic viaducts in the heart of native forest.
Only 5000 people are allowed to walk the track every year, guaranteeing peace and calm on your tramp, rather than crowds and a mad rush for bed-space.
The two back-country lodges offer a unique stopping point along the walk. The first, Okaka, is right at the top of the Hump Ridge itself, and amazing views over the Southern Ocean are to be had from the lounge balcony and short loop track.
Day 2's lodge is at the old saw-milling settlement of Port Craig and, if you're lucky, you may get to see the pod of Hectors Dolpins that live in the nearby sandy cove.
Each lodge supplies pillows and pillow slips, and the bunk rooms have a maximum of 8 beds: no sleeping with 50 other people! Hot porridge and brown sugar is given to trampers for breakfast, and the kitchen is well stocked with pots, pans, plates, cutlery and camping gas.
The lodge shops sell a range of beers and wines, as well as snacks and other refreshments. Sipping on a glass of wine while watching the sun set over Fiordland isn't too bad a way to end a day's hard tramping!
The track itself offers some of the most diverse scenery in NZ: experience golden sandy beaches, ancient podocarp forest, and glorious alpine views, all in a single day.
360 degree panoramic views of the Southern Ocean and the wilderness of southwest Fiordland are afforded from the top of the track.
Descending the Hump Ridge, trampers walk across the famous Percy Burn viaduct, the largest wooden viaduct in the world, and on to Port Craig – at the start of the 20th century, site of the most remote and technologically advanced sawmill in NZ.
A hot shower, the chance to upgrade to a private room (duvet and linen supplied!) or have your pack flown to the lodges by helicopter make each day's walk just that little bit more special.
The Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track is committed to sustainability, recycling, and green energy. Any profits from the track are returned to the Tuatapere community and used to fund local projects: the track prides itself on working closely with local communities and businesses to create a truly local product.
A variety of packages are available, from do-it-yourself Freedom Walking to fully-catered guided trips. Bookings are mandatory, so give the office a call and they'll talk you through all the options available.
More wilderness....less people. Brilliant.