Hump Ridge Track, Tuatapere, New Zealand’s next Great Walk

Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track in spectacular Fiordland National Park is on the way to becoming the 11th New Zealand Great Walk.

Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track in spectacular Fiordland National Park is on the way to becoming the 11th New Zealand Great Walk.

Southland’s 61km Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track will become New Zealand’s next Great Walk, and the 11th in the series of multi-day walks through New Zealand’s wilderness landscapes.

The Hump Ridge trail travels across some of New Zealand’s most remote landscapes in Fiordland National Park, a vast wilderness of forests, mountains and deep fiords which extends across the rugged south-eastern corner of the South Island. 

Hikers can already walk the 61km track but a New Zealand Government $5 million investment over the next three years will see the existing track upgraded to achieve Great Walk status. The three-night experience is expected to open in time for the 2022 walking season. 

Announcing the project, Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage said the new track would be “a fantastic addition to the walking network and draw more visitors to this beautiful part of the country.” 

“The Hump Ridge Track provides access to a spectacular southern coastline and forests, dramatic alpine tops and historic viaducts that offers walkers a remote and unforgettable beauty and history,” Sage said.

Development of the Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track is the result of a unique, private community-led project. Tuatapere locals have been the driving force behind the concept, development and operation of the track over the past two decades. The operation is a partnership between the local charitable trust and the New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC).  

Tuatapere itself is a small town (pop: 558) on the Southern Scenic touring route. It sits on the banks of the Waiau River and has long history that goes back to early pioneering forest workers and sawmillers. Forestry is now sustainably managed and wood chips from the local sawmill are used on the track surfaces.

From the beginning, sustainability has been a key focus in development of the tracks, and there are a variety of initiatives and programmes that are helping to reduce the environmental impact on Fiordland’s relatively untouched natural landscapes.  

Walkers are encouraged to learn about the history of the area, enjoy the wild wilderness and immerse themselves in eco-responsible ‘leave-no-trace’ tourism protocols such as taking out all non-recyclable waste.

There are two accommodations along the track. At almost 1000m asl. Okaka Lodge sits at the highest point on the walk, while Port Craig Lodge, at sea level, offers hikers the opportunity to soak weary limbs in the Southern Ocean.

Hump Ridge Track runs a volunteer project for visitors to New Zealand who, in return for 10 days accommodation on the track and basic food, work four hours each day in the lodges.

Hikers are advised on how to conduct themselves appropriately when accessing areas of significance to Tangata Whenua (the people of the land). These include Sandhill Point and the privately-owned Māori land along the South Coast track. 

The community work behind the Hump Ridge Track is a living example of the Tiaki Promise, a New Zealand-wide tourism initiative to promote caring and protection of the environment for future generations.  

Fast facts: Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track

  • The Hump Ridge Track will become the 11th walk in New Zealand’s Great Walk network.
  • It is a 3-day, 61km loop walk for hikers along the southern coast of New Zealand.
  • Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track is a private walk developed (initiated, built and run) by a community charitable trust.
  • The Hump Ridge Track is operated in a unique partnership between the Tuatapere community and the Department of Conservation (DOC). 
  • The upgrade works are expected to be completed in late 2022.
  • The NZ Government is spending $5 million on the upgrades.