84 km one way
During winter, the track is often impassable and dangerous due to snow, ice and avalanches
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 Tamatea/Dusky Sound.
The track is reasonably well marked, but you need to know that:
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 river has changed course near Halfway Hut. It must now be crossed twice in knee deep water (in dry conditions). During and after rain this section may become impassable.
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).
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.
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 Tamatea/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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
To start from the north end (West Arm on 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 to or from Supper Cove in Tamatea/Dusky Sound or Lake Hauroko by floatplane or helicopter.
For transport options contact the Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre, or see transport services in Fiordland.
The Dusky Track is only recommended for experienced, well equipped groups with high fitness level.
Plan properly for your trip and ensure your party has a capable, experienced leader.
Before you go into the outdoors, tell someone your plans and leave a date and time 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.
Enjoy stunning views of Tamatea/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), there are amazing views of Gair Loch, Tripod Hill and the Seaforth Valley.
|Te Rua-o-te-moko / Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre|
|Phone:||+64 3 249 7924|
|Fax:||+64 4 471 1117|
Fiordland National Park
Te Anau 9600
PO Box 29
Te Anau 9640
|Full office details|