Moeraki River, seen from the Haast Paringa Track
Image: Ian Harrison | ©
Walking the Haast to Paringa Cattle Track is a three-day journey and you will need to be prepared to stay in huts along the route.
It is an easy 1.5 - 2 hours walk to Blowfly Hut. The Moeraki Valley track junction is about 15 minutes before the hut. Follow the main track past the junction, cross the Moeraki River swing bridge and on past the Maori Hut junction sign to Blowfly Hut.
From the Maori Saddle junction it is a 5 - 6 hours climb to the Maori Saddle Hut. Expect windfalls and some diversions where slips destroyed the original track.
Time: 7 - 9 hr
This longest section of the track is downhill most of the way. Follow the markers on the other side of diversions where vegetation is overgrown and at windfalls and slips especially at Slippery Face near Robinson Creek where the track crosses the alpine fault line.
Eventually the track swings to the north and follows a fence-line towards Coppermine Creek where the DOC hut is on the “true right” of the creek and the furthest of the three huts. It is another two-hour walk to the highway.
Access to the north end of the track is signposted approximately 40 km northeast of Haast on SH6 at the Windbag Saddle. There is a small parking area on the side of the road (the sign is labelled Haast - Paringa Cattle Track).
The sound end of the track is marked by a gate just south of the Waita River Bridge about 11 km north of Haast Junction.
In 1875 pioneer farmers at Haast constructed the cattle track. Stock from farms in the Landsborough and Cascade Valleys were driven to sale yards at Whataroa, a two-week journey at best.
In mobs of around 200, the cattle were grazed overnight on flats near Coppermine Creek. It took around 14 hours to make the 17 km journey to Blowfly Hut next day. From there the cattle were herded across the Moeraki River and on to Lake Paringa.
It is thought that nearly 50,000 cattle travelled the route throughout its history, with a maximum of about 700 per year in the 1940s. In 1961 the last mob was driven through to Whataroa and the track condition deteriorated. In 1965 the route through the Haast Pass (SH6) opened. In 1981 the old Cattle Track reopened as an historic walk in the Te Wahipounamu South West New Zealand World Heritage Area.