IntroductionThe Hollyford Track is a 4–8 day Fiordland tramp from the mountains to the sea at Martins Bay, and can be walked all year round.
The February 2020 storm damage has been repaired enough to allow the safe opening of the track. However, only for people with moderate to high level backcountry and remote areas skills and experience.
The Hollyford Track is a great tramping adventure for those who like to be a little off the beaten track, but still, have a good track and huts to stay in.
Beginning among the sheer rock walls of the Darran Mountains in Fiordland National Park, the track follows the Hollyford River/Whakatipu Kā Tuka on its journey to the sea at Martins Bay, on the wild West Coast.
With no alpine sections, this track is rarely cut off by snow so you can tramp it in any season depending on weather.
A journey from mountains to the sea
The Hollyford Track gives you a fantastic all round experience of Fiordland National Park.
You begin at the most impressive Fiordland terrain in the Darran Mountains area, and tramp for 4-5 days down the Hollyford River/Whakatipu Kā Tuka to the sea at Martins Bay.
You will walk through lush forest, beside a mighty river, alongside beautiful lakes then out to the wild West Coast.
A tramp you can do any time of year
With no alpine sections, this track is rarely cut off by snow so you can tramp it in any season (depending on weather).
Even in the rain this valley is still lovely for day walks or tramping, unlike walks in exposed alpine areas (however flooding can sometimes affect the track so check conditions before you go).
Great track and hut facilities
The Hollyford Track has excellent, comfortable huts and a good track, but is still a backcountry experience in Fiordland National Park.
It’s a good trip for you if you are fit, and like being a little off the beaten track, but still want a good, well marked track and huts to stay in.
See coastal wildlife
Nearing the coast, you may be lucky enough to see native wildlife, including NZ fur seals, penguins, herons, and occasionally dolphins.
Many activities and adventures
Other activities in the Hollyford Track area include day walks, guided walks (day or multi-day), climbing, trout fishing, deer hunting and kayaking.
Also, if you are a skilled and experienced tramper you may like to extend your adventure to include the challenging Pyke – Big Bay Route.
The Hollyford Track begins at the end of the Lower Hollyford Road, off SH 94 Milford Road, and ends at Martins Bay on the west coast.
The track is suitable for people with good fitness and takes 4–5 days one way. You can return on the same track or arrange transport from Martins Bay.
Very skilled and experienced trampers may choose to return via the challenging Pyke – Big Bay Route.
Places to stay
All huts are on a first come basis year round, there are no reservations. There are 6 backcountry huts along the track you can stay at. You can camp beside the huts. There are fees for either option. See the individual hut pages for full information.
You need hut tickets or a backcountry pass to stay at these huts. They're available from any DOC visitor centre.
Each hut has heating, mattresses and a pit toilet. There are no cooking facilities, carry your own portable stove.
The following Topo50 series map sheets cover the Hollyford Track:
- Topo50 Map CB09 – Hollyford Track
- Topo50 Map CA09 – Alabaster Pass
- Topo50 Map CA08 – Milford Sound/Piopiotahi.
What to expect on the track
The track is reasonably well marked, but you need to know that:
- some sections of the track are rough and muddy and not well defined - orange markers will guide the way
- expect unbridged stream and river crossings. River crossings may be impassable in or after heavy rain
- there are several three-wire bridges on the Demon Trail section
- some parts of the track are prone to flooding in wet weather – know before you go.
Lower Hollyford Road to Hidden Falls Hut
Time 2–3 hr
Distance: 9 km
Cross the swing bridge over Humboldt Creek and follow the old road to the start of the track, which initially sidles along bluffs, with swampland to the left. Sections of raised boardwalk cross areas prone to flooding.
Swamp Creek has a bridge over the waterway. However, there is a dry flood channel that can be impassable during or after heavy rain. Where Swamp Creek joins the Hollyford River/Whakatipu Kā Tuka, the track follows the riverbank, with occasional views of the Darran Mountains.
At Hidden Falls Creek the track passes Sunshine Hut (private hut) then continues upstream to a swingbridge.
Hidden Falls Hut is about 15 minutes from here.
Hidden Falls Hut
Hidden Falls Hut to Lake Alabaster Hut
Time: 3–4 hr
The track passes through a section of lowland ribbonwood/podocarp forest draped with colourful mosses and ferns. It then enters tall beech forest before climbing to Little Homer Saddle, with views of Mount Madeline and Fiordland’s highest mountain, Mount Tūtoko (2723 m).
From here, the track descends to Little Homer Falls (60 m) and continues to the confluence of the Hollyford and Pyke rivers. Beyond this is Pyke River Lodge (managed by Hollyford Track Guided Walks) and 15 min further on is Lake Alabaster Hut.
Lake Alabaster Hut
Lake Alabaster Hut to Demon Trail Hut
Time: 3–4 hr
Distance: 10.5 km
This section of the track is maintained to a much lower standard than the Lower Hollyford Road end to Lake Alabaster section.
Use the orange markers on the trees to guide you. It can be muddy, rocky and wet underfoot. Tree falls may obscure the track. Unbridged streams or rives may become impassable during and after heavy rain.
Backtrack from the Alabaster Hut for 15 minutes and cross the Pyke River swing bridge.
After two hours of relatively level track, the track meets the Hollyford River/Whakatipu Kā Tuka again. There are some long sections of mud. Follow the eastern side of Lake McKerrow/Whakatipu Waitai for about 1.5 hr to reach Demon Trail Hut.
Side trip: Turn off to McKerrow Island Hut
Time: 30 min
Distance: 1.2 km
Follow the track about 40 m down the true right side of the Hollyford River (facing downstream) and then cross to the true left. The track travels through a small section of bush to the lake edge – the hut is located near the river mouth in the bush.
As there is no bridge over the river, be aware that the river can flood after heavy rain, and you may be stranded in the hut until the river level lowers and it is safe to cross
McKerrow Island Hut
Demon Trail Hut to Hokuri Hut
Time: 5–6 hr
Distance: 9.6 km
Demon Trail is a historic cattle track. This section is rocky and undulating, but there are long sections of formed, flat track in between Loose rocks can make it difficult underfoot, and the track can become slippery in wet weather.
Some of the creek crossings can be dangerous, so extreme care is required – using the three wire bridges is recommended. Some creeks may become impassable after heavy rain
Demon Trail Hut
Hokuri Hut to Martins Bay Hut
Time: 4–5 hr
Distance: 13 km
Walk for 30 min from Hokuri Hut to reach Hokuri Creek. In low river conditions, you can cross near the creek mouth, but otherwise should use the three-wire crossing 20 min upstream. After crossing the creek, follow the lake shore past the bay where the settlement of Jamestown once stood.
After a further 1.5–2 hr walk, the track leaves the lake and continues for another hour to the Hollyford Airstrip and Martins Bay Lodge, managed by Hollyford Track Guided Walks.
Martins Bay Hut, situated at the mouth of the Hollyford River/Whakatipu Kā Tuka, is a further 1.5–2 hr from Martins Bay Lodge turn off. Take care when crossing Jerusalem Creek as it is prone to flooding after rain.
The track continues on to Long Reef through wind-shorn forest and provides views of the river mouth and sand spit. From July to November, seals and tawaki / Fiordland crested penguins can be seen around the coast close by
Martins Bay Hut
The track continues on to Long Reef through wind-shorn forest and provides views of the river mouth and sand spit. From July to November, seals and Fiordland crested penguins/tawaki can be seen around the coast close by.
Beyond Long Reef, the track becomes the Pyke - Big Bay Route. This route is not as well defined and suitable only for well-equipped and experienced trampers.
The Hollyford Track begins at the end of Lower Hollyford Road, which turns off SH94 Milford Road shortly after The Divide. The turn off point is called Marian Corner, and is about 87 km along the Milford Road from Te Anau.
Allow 2 hours to drive from Te Anau to the end of the Hollyford Road.
There is limited public transportation available. For more information, contact Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre.
During summer, there is a jetboat service available on Lake McKerrow on certain days with the Hollyford Track Guided Walk. Advance reservations essential. The boat goes from Martins Bay to the Pyke River confluence.
Plan properly for your trip and make sure your group has a capable leader. Be sure you have all the necessary equipment and clothing. Physical fitness and good equipment will make all the difference to your enjoyment of the trip.
Always tell someone you trust where you are going and when you are due back.
Safety in the outdoors for more details.
What to expect on the track
Check current track conditions before you go with the Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre in Te Anau.
- Sections of the track can become impassable after heavy rain, especially along the Demon Trail area, and at the Jerusalem River between Hokuri and Martin’s Bay huts.
- Some sections are rough and muddy and not well defined. Orange markers will guide the way.
- Tree falls are possible.
River crossings and bridges
- Expect unbridged stream and river crossings particularly during and following rainfall. How to cross a river safely
- Unbridged streams or rivers may become impassable during heavy rain
- Flooding is possible on parts of the track during and following rainfall
- There are several three-wire bridges on the Demon Trail section
- Hokuri Creek is bridged but if you choose to cross it, note that it looks tame but is disconcertingly swift.
Stay on the tracks. If you become lost – stop, find shelter, stay calm and wait for searchers to find you.
What to take
Be prepared for at least one wet day on your trip – Fiordland is a high rainfall area.
During holiday periods you could take a sleeping mat or tent in case huts are full on arrival.
|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|