Date: 02 May 2013
The Greenstone Caples Track is safer and more accessible to a wider range of people now a ten-year upgrade project by the Department of Conservation (DOC) nears completion.
DOC Wakatipu Works Ranger Richard Struthers said improvements to the track were aimed at attracting more family groups and novice trampers. The easy 3-4 day valley walk 86 km from Queenstown is ideal for people who don’t want to tackle anything too strenuous or who are new to tramping.
As it also links to the Routeburn Track, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, the four huts along the Greenstone/Caples are often full to capacity during peak periods (January-March), with the high numbers of trampers wanting accommodation. The McKellar and Greenstone huts have recently been replaced and this winter, the 40-year-old 12-bunk Mid Caples Hut will be demolished and replaced with a new 24-bunk hut.
Accommodation won’t be available at this site for most of the winter months during construction, but the Upper Caples hut will remain open, a 90-minute walk further along the Caples Track. Once the new Mid Caples hut is completed, the Upper Caples Hut will be decommissioned.
The section of track between the upper Greenstone and the upper Caples valley has been rebuilt over the past three summers, a major project that has involved rerouting the track to create an easier walk over McKellar Saddle. This raises this section to the standard of the remainder of the track.
The upper Greenstone bridge has been replaced and several bridges installed in the Caples Valley over critical stream crossings. The carpark at the start of the track will be upgraded and enlarged soon.
Meanwhile, on the Routeburn Track, a day shelter will be built at the Routeburn Flats Hut to accommodate the high number of day walkers to the hut (it is only a two-hour walk from the Routeburn Roadend). Construction is due to begin during the coming winter.
Two bridges on the track have been upgraded this season and the Routeburn Flats suspension bridge is currently being replaced. The track will remain open during this work but there may be short delays at the bridges.
The track between the Routeburn Flats and the Routeburn Falls huts will be upgraded, and the septic sewage system upgraded at the Routeburn Falls Hut.
Upcoming work on the Ree-Dart Track includes relocating 1.6 km of track in the Dart Valley due to damage by flooding, building a new bridge across 25 Mile Creek in the Rees Valley, and upgrading the Chinamans Bluff carpark at the Dart roadend.
DOC Wakatipu Works Ranger
Tel: +64 3 442 6487
Mobile: +64 27 632 2057