In this section:

Track description

These tracks can be walked in either direction. This description details the Caples then the Greenstone Track.

The Caples Track and the Greenstone Track can both be combined with the Routeburn Track.

Huts on this track are first in-first serve. They cannot be booked in advance and must be paid for with backcountry hut tickets, available at every DOC Visitor Centre.

Read the latest alerts for this track.


NZTopo50 - Sheets CB9 Hollyford, CB10 Glenorchy and CC9 North Mavora Lake.

Track sections

On this page:

Greenstone road end to Mid Caples Hut
Mid Caples Hut to McKellar Hut
McKellar Hut to Greenstone Hut
Greenstone Hut to road end

Greenstone road end to Mid Caples Hut

Time: 2 - 3 hr, 9 km

Follow the Greenstone/Caples Track from the car park. After 2–3 minutes, a stock bridge gives access to the Lake Rere Track. Don’t cross the bridge but keep to the true left—the river’s left bank, looking downstream. The track continues past the confluence of the Caples and Greenstone rivers.

Another swing bridge provides access to the Greenstone Track. The Caples Track continues on the true left of the Caples River. Along the valley floor it mainly follows the bush edge, but crosses the occasional grassy clearing. Just before the 24-bunk Mid Caples Hut, the track crosses a spectacular gorge.

Mid Caples Hut to McKellar Hut

Time: 6 - 7 hr, 22 km

Travel up the valley through bush and grassy clearings is easy—beware however of side streams on this section after heavy rain. About two hours from Mid Caples Hut, after entering the beech forest at the end of Top Flat, the recently upgraded track passes junctions with Steele Creek and Fraser/Kay Tracks before sidling steadily up towards the bush edge. The track across McKellar Saddle (945 m) gives great views and has been boardwalked to protect the fragile subalpine vegetation.

West of the saddle, the track again enters the bush and zigzags downwards for one hour to the open valley floor where a track junction is reached upstream from Lake McKellar. The 24-bunk McKellar Hut lies to the left and 28- bunk Howden Hut to the right. Both are about one hour from the junction. 

Note: Upper Caples Hut is managed by the NZ Deerstalkers' Association. Book the hut.

Lake McKellar, Greenstone Valley. Photo: Chris Smuts-Kennedy.
Lake McKellar, Greenstone Valley

McKellar Hut to Greenstone Hut

Time: 4 hr 30 min - 6 hr 30 min, 18 km

Cross the bridge in front of the hut and follow the track down river on the true left. It is a relatively easy valley walk alternating between tussock flats and bush, until the track reaches a gorge through an old land slide. Steele Creek is crossed by a swingbridge and the track veers to the right passing close to a private hut (Steele Creek Lodge) and the local Deerstalker's association Mid Greenstone Hut. The Greenstone Hut is approximately 1-2 hours away from this location.

The track then meanders down the valley past a large white terrace bank, still keeping on the true left of the river all the way down a wide open valley before entering the bush again. A junction in the track is reached shortly after this. A right turn leads across a bridge over a gorge to the Greenstone Hut (20 bunks) and the Mavora Walkway. 

Greenstone Hut to road end

Time: 3 - 5 hr, 12 km

To continue down the Greenstone Valley to the Greenstone Carpark return to the junction via the bridge over the gorge

On the Greenstone Track the valley begins to narrow sharply as the river enters a long gorge section. In winter this section of track may be prone to avalanches. Slip Flat is a large open area about halfway down the gorge. There is an emergency bridge upstream if the creek across Slip Flat is in flood.

Beyond Slip Flat the track enters the bush again and follows the river down to its junction with the Caples River. Several deep pools next to the track offer good swimming on hot days. Parts of the track cross private land and stock may be present. Continue to the confluence with the Caples River. Near the confluence is a swing bridge crossing the Caples to the true left bank. Here you join the Caples Track. Trampers wishing to walk out to the car park should follow the track downstream for 30 minutes.

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