Moeraki Valley Track
Located in Haast, Paringa and Moeraki rivers area in the West Coast region
IntroductionThe Moeraki Valley offers good tramping for the fit and experienced. The U-shaped valley is typical of those carved out by glaciers during repeated glacial periods.
This route is suitable for well-equipped and experienced backcountry trampers and climbers only. The best seasons to go are summer and autumn.
The track crosses numerous small creeks and the main Moeraki River. These flood quickly during rainfall. Do not attempt to cross flooded rivers and side streams – wait until river levels have dropped before proceeding.
SH6 to Horseshoe Flat Hut tramping track
Time: 4 hr 30 min
The track up the Moeraki valley initially follows the Haast – Paringa Cattle Track. The first section of track detours from the original Cattle Track to avoid the lowland swampy landscape around Windbag Creek, but soon picks up the original track line. The flat, well-benched track then follows the Moeraki (Blue) River to the Moeraki Valley Track junction, just before the swingbridge to Blowfly (Blue River) Hut. Turn left at the junction, following the sign for Horseshoe Flat Hut.
The track meanders through mixed beech and podocarp forest on the true right of the river. The track then follows a branch of the Moeraki River before emerging onto the first of a series of swampy clearings with groves of ribbonwood and scrub. Be careful to follow the track markers through this area.
In general the track leads along the base of the hill and doesn’t follow the meandering course of the river. However, at one point where the track has been eroded, it is necessary to follow the riverbank until markers are found again. Shortly before the hut, the track comes out onto the gravel riverbed. Horseshoe Flat Hut will soon come into view on a grassy flat.
Horseshoe Flat Hut
Horseshoe Flat Hut to Middle Head Hut route
Time: 2 hr
Follow the markers through the bush until the route emerges onto grassy flats. Follow the flats upstream until a suitable crossing of the river can be found.
The river will be impassable during and after moderate to heavy rainfall. Do not attempt to cross in these conditions or if rain is forecast while you are further up the valley, as you will be unable to return to Horseshoe Flat Hut.
If it is safe to do so, cross the river and continue upstream over the gravel flats until markers indicate the beginning of the route through the bush again. From here the route climbs through open beech forest.
There is a short section of scrub before a crossing of a creek flowing from Zelian Saddle. Middle Head Hut is located near the confluence of this creek and the Middle Head branch of the Moeraki River.
Middle Head Hut
Middle Head Hut to Middle Head Basin route
Time: 2 hr
The side-trip into Middle Head Basin from the hut is worthwhile. The route continues from just above the hut and descends to the Moeraki River.
Cross the river (impassable during and after rain) to the true right and follow a marked route uphill through beech forest. Continuing past a rock biv, the route eventually drops down and emerges into the scrub and finally tussock of Middle Head Basin. The route ends here.
Access to 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).
- Check the latest conditions at the Westland Tai Poutini National Park Visitor Centre in Franz Josef or Haast Visitor Centre before leaving – conditions can change rapidly.
- Carry a personal locator beacon.
- The time given is a guide only and will vary greatly with fitness and weather conditions.
- Tramping in this area is very demanding and you should allow plenty of time to reach your planned destination.
- True left and true right refer to the side of the valley or river when facing and looking downstream.
Maps: NZTopo50: BY13 Lake Paringa
Hazards: Flooded rivers, rockfall and steep grades. This trip should not be attempted when it is raining, rain is forecast or the river is running high.
If you are travelling beyond the snowline then make sure you check avalanche conditions, are sufficiently equipped and experienced to assess the conditions, and choose a safe path through avalanche terrain.
Stay safe when crossing rivers
If you plan to cross unbridged rivers, know how to cross safely and be prepared for if you cannot cross.
Do not cross if the river is flooded, you cannot find safe entry and exit points or are unsure it’s safe. Turn back or wait for the river to drop. If in doubt, stay out.
Stay safe in the outdoors
- Take the right gear for your trip: Walking and tramping gear lists.
- Tell a trusted person your plans and when to raise the alarm if you haven’t returned. Send them the information directly, or use the Outdoor Intentions form or Plan My Walk.
- Follow the five essential steps of the Land Safety Code.
|Awarua / Haast Visitor Centre|
|Phone:||+64 3 750 0809|
Corner SH6 and Jackson Bay Road
PO Box 50
|Full office details|