Introduction

This difficult tramping track between Lake Hauroko and Lake Manapouri offers huge lakes, gushing rivers, vast forested valleys and lots of mud for experienced and well equipped trampers.

Highlights

  • It crosses three major valley systems and two mountain ranges.
  • Offers fantastic views over a vast Fiordland landscape.
  • Is difficult but rewarding.

Track overview

84 km one way

Walking and tramping

8- 10 days Advanced: Tramping track

Seasonal restrictions

During winter, the track is often impassable and dangerous due to snow, ice and avalanches 

Dog access

No dogs

About this track

Description

The Dusky Track can be walked in either direction - from Lake Hauroko to Lake Manapouri (as described below), or the other way. It also offers a two day optional detour to Supper Cove in Dusky Sound.

The track is reasonably well marked, but you need to know that:

  • There are 21 three-wire bridges to cross. 
  • You can expect tree falls, knee-deep mud, river crossings, tree roots and some rough terrain.
  • Some sections often become impassable due to flooding after heavy rain.

Lake Hauroko to Halfway Hut, 4 hr - 6 hr

Lake Hauroko is the deepest lake in New Zealand (462 m) and the boat journey across it provides a spectacular start to the trip.

The first 40 minutes from Hauroko Burn Hut (10 bunks) is flat, with attractive views of the river. If there has been heavy rain, there is a three wire crossing about 100 m downstream from the track. This is signposted as an emergency crossing.

The track then climbs at a gentle grade to a gorge, before descending to a walkwire over the Hauroko Burn, prior to its meeting with the Gardner Burn.

The track steepens, then descends to the river, with flat terrain to Halfway Hut (12 bunks).

Hauroko Burn Hut

Hauroko Burn Hut

Category: Standard
Facilities: 10 bunk beds, heating, mattresses
Bookings not required - first come, first served
Halfway Hut, Dusky Track. Photo: ©Dave Quested.

Halfway Hut

Category: Standard
Facilities: 12 bunk beds, heating, mattresses
Bookings not required - first come, first served

Halfway Hut to Lake Roe Hut, 3 hr - 5 hr

The track follows an easy grade crossing the Hauroko Burn just before the top forks. Keep an eye open for birds such as yellowheads (mohua) and kaka in this section.

From the forks the track climbs steeply to above the bushline. Snow poles show the direction to Lake Roe Hut (12 bunks), sited at the northern end of Lake Laffy on Furkert Pass.

Lake Roe, set among massive granite outcrops, is 20 minutes due east, above the hut.

Lake Roe Hut, Fiordland National Park.

Lake Roe Hut

Category: Standard
Facilities: 12 bunk beds, heating, mattresses
Bookings not required - first come, first served

Lake Roe Hut to Loch Maree Hut, 5 hr - 7 hr

If there has been continual rain it is recommended that you wait for more favourable conditions before completing this section, as the Seaforth River can be impassable due to flooding.

In a westerly direction snow poles mark the track around the outlet of Lake Horizon and along the open tops of the Pleasant Range. This section is the scenic highlight of the track, with spectacular views of Dusky Sound and the surrounding mountains.

From the end of the Pleasant Range the track descends very steeply to Loch Maree. Trampers can usually cross the Seaforth River just downstream of the walkwire, which is provided for use only when the river is running high.

Loch Maree Hut (12 bunks) is a few minutes from the walkwire. If river levels restrict access to the walkwire, there is an open shelter adjacent to the track where trampers can wait until the crossing can be safely made.

Loch Maree Hut. Photo: Brian Dobbie.

Loch Maree Hut

Category: Standard
Facilities: 12 bunk beds, heating, mattresses
Bookings not required - first come, first served

Loch Maree Hut to Supper Cove Hut, 6 hr - 8 hr

The track climbs around Loch Maree and then descends to the Bishop Burn. After heavy rain, low-lying parts of this section can flood.

From the Bishop Burn to the Henry Burn the track is flat and follows that cut by West Coast miners in 1903. From the Henry Burn the track gets rougher as it sidles the slopes overlooking the Supper Cove.

Supper Cove Hut (12 bunks) is visible on a small terrace just south of the Hilda Burn.

Supper Cove Hut.

Supper Cove Hut

Category: Standard
Facilities: 12 bunk beds, heating, mattresses
Bookings not required - first come, first served

Loch Maree Hut to Kintail Hut, 6hr - 8 hr

From Loch Maree Hut the track heads along the Seaforth River to Deadwood Creek. This section is rough underfoot and prone to flooding. It can be very difficult in wet weather.

Between Deadwood Creek and the Kenneth Burn the track gets easier as it passes through several clearings. Watch out for track markers on the opposite forest edge of the clearings. This section
also crosses several deep guts which can fill with water and are difficult to cross if river levels are high.

After crossing the Kenneth Burn walkwire the track becomes rough as it climbs through the gorge to the outlet of Gair Loch. From here the track leads up river to a walkwire across the Seaforth River. This section is relatively easy apart from a swampy area at the top of the Loch.

Kintail Hut (12 bunks) is five minutes along a side-track, signposted just before the walkwire.

Kintail Hut.

Kintail Hut

Category: Standard
Facilities: 12 bunk beds, heating, mattresses
Bookings not required - first come, first served

Kintail Hut to Upper Spey Hut, 5hr - 7hr

From the hut backtrack five minutes to the walkwire over the Seaforth River. From here the track crosses a large slip which destroyed several hundred metres of track in 2008.

Orange markers indicate a new route up the true right of the Kintail Stream to the walkwire. The steep climb to Centre Pass (1051m) traverses forest then herbfields and provides breath-taking views of Gair Loch, Tripod Hill and the Seaforth Valley.

If the weather is fine it is worth leaving packs at the pass and climbing to the summit of Mt Memphis for some spectacular views (2 hrs return).

From Centre Pass the track is marked by snow poles as it descends steeply through tussock and alpine shrubland to the head of the Warren Burn. It is a short steep descent from here to Upper Spey Hut (12 bunks).

Upper Spey Hut, Dusky Track. Photo: ©Dave Quested.

Upper Spey Hut

Category: Standard
Facilities: 12 bunk beds, heating, mattresses
Bookings not required - first come, first served

Upper Spey Hut to Wilmot Pass Road, 4hr - 5hr

The track crosses a large swampy clearing and descends to a walkwire over the Spey River, about 40 minutes from the hut. It then follows the true left of the river through beech and ribbonwood forest to the Dashwood Stream. Two walkwires span the stream.

From here it is a short walk to the Wilmot Pass Road.

Wilmot Pass Road to West Arm, Lake Manapouri, 45 min

From the track end (sign posted on the left hand side of the road, 20 minutes past the Mica Burn) follow the Wilmot Pass Road to West Arm, Lake Manapouri. West Arm Hut (6 bunks) is sited half an hour along the road.

West Arm Hut.

West Arm Hut

Category: Basic/bivvies
Facilities: 6 bunk beds, mattresses
Bookings not required - first come, first served

Getting there

Take the right gear on your tramp.
Take the right gear on your tramp

To start from the north end (Lake Manapouri), the Dusky Track can be reached by a daily boat service on Lake Manapouri. 

To start from the south (Lake Hauroko), a scheduled boat service on Lake Hauroko leads to the start of the track at the head of the lake.

It is also possible to fly in to or out from Supper Cove (Dusky Sound) or Lake Hauroko by float plane or helicopter.

For transport options contact the Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre.

Nature and conservation

Loving the Dusky Track adventure. Photo copyright: Dave Quested.Loving the Dusky Track adventure

You will enjoy stunning views of Dusky Sound from the open tops of the Pleasant Range (between Lake Roe and Loch Maree Huts).

From Centre Pass and Mt Memphis (between Kintail and Upper Spey Huts), amazing views of Gair Loch, Tripod Hill and the Seaforth Valley.

Know before you go

Safety information

The Dusky Track is only recommended for experienced, well equipped groups with high levels of fitness.

Plan properly for your trip and ensure your party has a capable, experienced leader.

Be prepared for lots of mud and water! Photo: Sarah Murray.
Be prepared for lots of mud and water!

  • We strongly recommend that you carry a Personal Locator Beacon or a Mountain Radio, and topographical maps for navigation. The following Topo50 series map sheets cover the Dusky Track: CE05 Cooper Island, CE06 Lake Roe and CD06 Deep Cove.
  • Take adequate food, clothing and equipment, portable stoves and fuel. Allow food and time for possible delays (being stranded for 2 days is not uncommon).
  • Take care with river crossings. Sections of the Dusky Track flood easily. If in doubt, sit it out. Common flood areas are just before Loch Maree (an emergency shelter exists on track from Lake Roe), and along the route to Supper Cove and from Loch Maree Hut to Kintail Hut.
  • Keep to the tracks. If you become lost - stop, find shelter, stay calm and wait for searchers to arrive. Do not move away from the area unless absolutely sure of direction and location.
  • Check at the Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre for conditions before you go.

Before you go into the outdoors, tell someone your plans and leave a date to raise the alarm if you haven't returned. To do this, use the New Zealand Outdoors Intentions process on the AdventureSmart website. It is endorsed by New Zealand's search and rescue agencies and provides three simple options to tell someone you trust the details about your trip.

Back to top