Timaru River Track

Image: DOC


From Lake Hāwea the track follows the Tīmaru River, crosses Mount Martha Saddle and descends into the Ahuriri Valley. It's a demanding tramp for experienced parties.

Track overview

38 km one way

Walking and tramping

Advanced: Tramping track

Mountain biking

Advanced: Grade 4

Dog access

No dogs

About this track


The Timaru River Track follows the river to the head of the valley. It crosses 1,680 m Mount Martha Saddle to descend into the Ahuriri Valley and Conservation Park.

It passes through mānuka, kānuka, matagouri and briar on the valley floor and in the upper sections, mountain beech/taumaka forest and tussock.

The lower section, on the Lake Hawea side, has a loop track for day walkers and also access to both Corner and Dingle Peaks.

The track is also a section of the Te Araroa Trail - The Long Pathway - the national walking trail from Cape Reinga to Bluff.

Tīmaru River carpark to Top Timaru Hut

Time 10 - 11 hr

The marked track starts on the river's true left and crosses it several times during the first hour.

It then crosses open flats near Junction Hut (private). The going becomes more awkward, but the track is clearly marked. It progresses through heavily gorged sections around side streams, and along scree slopes.

A slip on a section of track 50 m downstream from the Timaru River/Breast Hill track junction requires care when crossing, as it is a bluffy section with a vertical drop on one side. From the treeline, it's an hour of open travel to Top Timaru Hut.

Top Timaru Hut to Mt Martha Saddle

Time 1.5 - 2 hr

This straightforward section uses the farm track above the hut. It runs to the head of the valley and climbs to the 1,680 m saddle.

Mount Martha Saddle to Ahuriri Valley

Time 3 - 4 hr

The track descends into the Avon Burn catchment and passes Tin Hut (private). This is a pleasant walk above the burn, leading to the carpark on Birchwood Road.

Timaru River Loop Track

Time 4 - 5 hr return

A high river track, signposted 50m along the road leads to a 4WD track above the Tīmaru River.  Follow this undulating track to Deep Spur Creek near Junction Hut (1.5 km), cross the river and return via the way of the Lower Timaru River track. 

River crossing skills required; loop track may not be possible after heavy rain.

Corner Peak Route (side trip)

Track category: Route
Distance: 10 km return from Timaru High River Track junction

This is a route, signposted off the high river track. This is a long, full day route that should only be attempted in good conditions, as it becomes dangerously slippery in wet weather. As the route is only marked to the Hāwea Conservation Park boundary, navigation skills are required.

Mt Prospect Track (side trip)

Track category: Tramping track
Distance: 12 km return from Top Timaru Hut
Time: 5 – 6 hrs, with multi-day option

Follow Timaru River track 1 km downstream from Top Timaru Hut to reach the start of Mt Prospect Track.

The track steadily climbs for 5 km to reach Mt Prospect at 1770 m. For the last 1 km to Mt Prospect there is no track so follow the fenceline passing the junction with Mt Melina track on your left. Return the same way. This track is mostly an unmarked old 4WD road. Good navigational skills are required.

Be aware there are several stream crossings that can become uncrossable in heavy rain.

For a multiday tramp requiring a high level of back country skills: Continue from Mt Prospect for a further 5 km on the Mt Prospect track down the other side into the Lindis area to join the Melina Ridge Track.

Mountain biking: Grade 4
Alternatively Mt Prospect Track can be biked from the Lindis area via Melina Ridge Track. There is no biking on the Timaru River Track so bikers need to return via the Melina Ridge Track.

Getting there

The carpark at the start of the Timaru River Track is 10 km from Lake Hāwea Township, on the unsealed Timaru River Road.

Know before you go

Adverse weather: The weather can change rapidly in New Zealand. Hypothermia is a real risk even in summer. Be prepared by having warm, windproof clothing and the appropriate footwear. Whiteout conditions caused by snow or low cloud may be present.

Unbridged rivers: There are river and stream crossings that become hazardous in heavy rain or snowmelt. Be prepared to turn back.

Be avalanche alert: This area has terrain that can produce avalanches that cross the track, usually from May into November. View avalanche information.


Tititea / Mount Aspiring National Park Visitor Centre
Phone:   +64 27 629 1012
Email:   mtaspiringvc@doc.govt.nz
Address:   1 Ballantyne Road
Wanaka 9305
Postal Address:   PO Box 93
Wanaka 9343
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