Pyke - Big Bay Route, Fiordland
Image: Ray Salisbury | ©
This challenging tramping route (88 km) is a real adventure for those with a high level of skill and experience (see notes in Know before you go, below).
The route traverses parts of Fiordland and Mount Aspiring National Parks, and Pyke Forest, which are included in the Te Wähipounamu - South West New Zealand World Heritage Area.
For details see Hollyford Track.
From Lake Alabaster Hut, follow the lake shore to Alabaster Creek at the head of the lake (2 - 4 hours).
Note that you will encounter knee deep water towards the Alabaster Creek end of the lake during normal lake levels. After rain this becomes very difficult and slow travel. Alabaster Creek is normally crossed via a gravel bar at its mouth. However, after rain this becomes a deep and dangerous crossing. From the head of the lake follow the orange, triangular pole markers through the open areas of flax and tussock until a marked route enters the forest.
The route goes through aptly named ‘Black Swamp’, then follows an overgrown track up the true left of the Pyke River, through beech forest, flax wetlands and river flats to the Olivine Hut (12 bunks).
Use the cage to cross the Olivine River. The route follows the old stock route which, though marked, can be difficult to follow due to overgrown vegetation. Open areas of flax and tussock wetlands are encountered between the Diorite and Barrier Rivers.
Both rivers are unbridged and can be impassable after rain. The route continues through tall beech forest to Lake Wilmot. Travel round the lake is difficult, especially if the water level is high.
From here the route continues through beech forest, flax flats and along the river to the Pyke Airstrip and the Pyke Crossing. Markers in the area can get damaged due to flooding, making the route difficult to follow. There are good areas to camp here.
A crossing of the Pyke River can normally be made just downstream from Paulin Creek. However, after rain it becomes impassable.
The route follows Paulin Creek and through the forest to the dry Awarua River, where an old prospecting road leads to the mouth of the river at Big Bay. In normal conditions this can be crossed at low tide, otherwise follow a track 15 minutes upstream to a swing bridge.
Big Bay Hut (9 bunks) is at the southern end of the village area. Please respect the private dwellings located here.
This section initially follows the sandy beach from Big Bay to McKenzie Creek, located at the southern end of the bay.
After crossing the creek (take care as McKenzie Creek can often be impassable and extremely dangerous after rain), a short track leads to the coast.
Follow the coastline to Long Reef, before joining the track to Martins Bay Hut (24 bunks) and the Hollyford Track.
The route between Martins Bay Hut and Big Bay Hut near Long Reef is overgrown and has a small slip on it making it difficult to navigate. It's recommended that trampers walk around the coast, but this can only be done 2 hours either side of low tide and with calm sea conditions. Be aware there may be seals in this area.
The Hollyford Track then follows the true right of the Hollyford River/Whakatipu Kä Tuka, and after about an hour’s walk, reaches private dwellings and two airstrips.
For details see Hollyford Track.
This track starts either on the first part of the Hollyford Track (end of the Hollyford Road), or at Big Bay on the West Coast.
To get to the Hollyford Road from Te Anau, turn off from the Milford Road (State Highway 94) at Marian Corner, a few minutes towards Milford Sound from The Divide. Marian Corner 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.
To get to Big Bay you can either walk along the Hollyford Track, or access this area by light aircraft.
Topo50 series CA09 Alabaster Pass covers this area and is available for purchase from the Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre.
The route near Lake Wilmot does not follow the alignment on the NZTopo map CA09 (printed before 2017). Visit NZ Topo Map or contact the Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre for information on the realignment.
Before you go into the outdoors, tell someone your plans and leave a date to raise the alarm if you haven't returned. To do this, use the New Zealand Outdoors Intentions process on the AdventureSmart website.
|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|