The Hollyford Track begins at the end of the Lower Hollyford Road, off of 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 camp beside the huts.
You need hut tickets or a backcountry pass, available from any DOC visitor centre.
During holiday periods you could take a sleeping mat or tent in case huts are full on arrival.
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 in 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
Distance: 10.5 km
The track passes through a section of lowland ribbonwood/podocarp forest draped with colourful mosses and ferns.
It then enters tall beech forest before the climb to Little Homer Saddle, with views of Mt Madeline and Fiordland’s highest mountain, Mt Tūtoko (2723 m).
The track descends to Little Homer Falls (60 m) and continues to the Hollyford/Pyke Rivers confluence. Beyond this is Pyke River Lodge (private) and 15 minutes further on is Lake Alabaster Hut.
Lake Alabaster Hut
Lake Alabaster Hut to McKerrow Island 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.
Be aware that after heavy rain the river can flood and you may be stranded in the hut until river levels are lower and it is safe to cross. Back track from the 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. A further hour’s walk leads to McKerrow Island.
To access the hut, cross the flood channel above its entry to Lake McKerrow/Whakatipu Waitai.
McKerrow Island Hut
McKerrow Island Hut to Demon Trail Hut
Time: 1 hr 30 min
Distance: 4.2 km
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. It can be difficult underfoot in wet weather, with the track becoming slippery and with loose rocks.
Some of the stream crossings can be dangerous, so extreme care is required - using the three wire bridges is recommended. After heavy rain some streams may be impassable.
Demon Trail Hut
Hokuri Hut to Martins Bay Hut
Time: 4-5 hr
Distance: 13 km
Thirty minutes walk from Hokuri Hut is Hokuri Creek. In low river conditions cross near the creek mouth, otherwise use the three-wire crossing 20 minutes upstream.
Follow the lake shore past the bay where the settlement of Jamestown once stood.
After a further 1.5 - 2 hour's walk, the track leaves the lake and continues for another hour to the Hollyford Airstrip and Martins Bay Lodge (private).
Martins Bay Hut, situated at the mouth of the Hollyford River/Whakatipu Ka Tuka, is a further 1.5 - 2 hours from Martins Bay Lodge. Take care when crossing Jerusalem Creek as it is prone to flooding after rain.
Martins Bay Hut
There is also another airstrip and private baches in this area.
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.