Little Criffel Track

Image: Krista Brutane and Rochelle Richardson | DOC


This track is in the Pisa Conservation Area which lies between Wanaka and Cromwell.

Track overview

Walking and tramping

6 - 8 hr Advanced: Tramping track

Mountain biking

Advanced: Grade 4

Seasonal restrictions

Via the Larches Carpark, the Cardrona River to the Little Criffel section of track is closed annually for lambing from 10 October till 10 November inclusive.

Dog access

No dogs

About this track


Little Criffel circuit: 6 - 7 hr return, 19 km
Avalon car park – Little Criffel Summit: 3-4 hrs, 9 km
Little Criffel Summit - The Larches car park:  3-4 hrs, 10 km

The route up to 1,341 m Little Criffel from Avalon car park is on a steep and unformed track providing a good opportunity for fit, experienced walkers to enjoy extensive views over the Upper Clutha Basin and a spectacular panorama of the Southern Alps/Kā Tiritiro o te Moana.

From the car park, cross the Cardrona River and follow the markers and stiles up the hill to the summit of Little Criffel.

The marked route from the Larches car park to the summit of Little Criffel is mostly on a 4WD track apart from where it crosses through the Larches Conservation Area; a small pocket of shrubland dominated by kanuka, matagouri and native broom.

A special lease area provides access between two sections of the Pisa Conservation Area – there are no marked tracks in this section to follow.

Mountain biking

Mountain biking is permitted on the Larches track.This is an advanced level rated cycle track which involves some steep climbs and poor traction. Some sections will require riders to get off their bikes and walk.

Getting there

Access to/from the route is signposted from either the Larches car park (9.5 km from Wanaka) or the Avalon car park (12 km from Wanaka); Cardrona Valley Road.

Know before you go

  • In summer very hot and dry conditions are common. Carrying an adequate supply of both drinking water and sun protection is essential.
  • Alpine conditions may be experienced at any time of the year, with the higher country being subject to snow during the winter months.

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

  • The steep section of the track before you enter the conservation area may be subject to avalanche danger in winter.
  • Unbridged rivers: There are river and stream crossings that become hazardous in heavy rain or snowmelt. Be prepared to turn back.

    Take extreme care when crossing the Cardrona River, especially after rain.
  • Private property: This track crosses private land. Respect the landowner's livestock and property: stay on the marked track until you reach the conservation land, leave gates as you find them and use stiles where provided. Livestock can be unpredictable – keep your distance at all times/go around if necessary. 

    No camping until the conservation area boundary.


    Tititea / Mount Aspiring National Park Visitor Centre
    Phone:   +64 27 629 1012
    Address:   1 Ballantyne Road
    Wanaka 9305
    Postal Address:   PO Box 93
    Wanaka 9343
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