South Coast Track, Fiordland, NZ, Della’s Version:

Day one was totally passive, involving a jet boat ride over the beautiful Lake Hauroko and then helter-skelter down the fast-running Wairaurahiri River to the sea. There we stayed overnight in lovely wilderness accommodation and prepared our packs for the big walk ahead.

Our jet boat waiting. Lake Hauroko was like a mill-pond:


Lake Hauroko from the jet boat:


Speeding down the Wairaurahiri River. Pretty exciting!


Nearly at the sea. The walk-wire we will cross later in our travels.


South Coast Track, Fiordland, NZ, days 2 and 6.

I have grouped the 2 days together (there and back again) from the Wairaurahiri River to the Waitutu Lodge. After a couple of hours along the coast, the going was mainly through the Waitutu Forest, which has never been logged and belongs to the Maori. This was the hardest piece of walking, about 10 hours with minimal breaks each time, and much hard going through deep mud, treacherous tree roots and stream gullies. Still, the scenery was wonderful. Strangely, we didn’t take any pics of the nasty, hard bits…just too busy getting through them, I guess!

The mouth of the Crombie River, Steve with Pete (and his pig dog, Sophie), caretaker of the Waitutu Lodge who accompanied us on part of the walk.


There is always a friendly robin to help with the lunch stops in Fiordland.


Steve in a drier section of the track.


Ain’t this just beautiful!


The coast at the Waitutu Hut where we spent the nights of day 2 and day 5.


That’s me negotiating a walk wire over the Crombie.


Five minutes after setting out. The first mud!


Day 3 South Coast Track, Fiordland, NZ. On this day we set out from the Waitutu Hut heading for Westies Hut, an advertised 6 hours away. This destination was the big one of the trip, as we had failed to make it in 2015 due to a knee injury on my part. Very few people seem to have been there, as we could glean only a little hearsay of the track conditions, most of which suggested very wet and muddy going. We set out in light drizzle which cleared by mid-morning. The track was a little muddy at the beginning, but as we climbed gently it became lovely, dry, open forest. Sadly, around lunchtime, we were stopped in our tracks by a flooded river with no safe crossing apparent. The water appeared to be at least chest-deep, and with heavy packs it presented a dangerous obstacle. We knew that some people walked along the beach around the headlands, but the high tide was not conducive to that either. Fortunately we came across a comfortable hut hidden in the forest so we reviewed the situation overnight and with tide times supplied by Matt via our satellite phone planned to skip around the headlands at low tide the next day. Westies Hut was still accessible, we hoped!

White moss made the ground look snow-covered.


Some muddly sections, but isn’t this white moss amazing!


Steve in the more open forest section.


No go across this river. Someone had tied rope, but this little black duck was not about to wade chest deep!


The cliffs we needed to walk around….tide is too high at this stage, but maybe in the morning…


Days 3 and 4 Fiordland South Coast Track, N.Z.: Finally to Westies Hut and back again!

Well, the tide was low enough around lunchtime to skirt the 2 big headlands on the beach. The beach walking was lovely and Steve managed to beat a path along pig and deer runs back to the walking track afterwards. The walk to Westies was delightful and descending the cliff to reach our final destination almost a piece of cake. Westies consists of some privately owned huts nestled in a huge complex of sea caves. The huts were comfortable and the scenery breathtaking. The lashing of the sea all night was a bonus! Not too many people venture out as far as Westies, and we saw no-one on our travels, but it was well worth the effort! Finally we made Westies in our second year of trying!

Not a bad place for a lunch stop!


A view of Westies coastline from the track.


The final descent. The rope was helpful!


Westies huts in the main cave. There were many more caves to explore, including a separate one for the outhouse!


Heading back to the Waitutu Hut , Day 4. Steve got to practise using his new knuckles on this rope!


Our walk around the cliffs at low tide


Last of the Fiordland pics today, covering days 8-11. At the end of Day 6 we arrived back at the Wairaurahiri Lodge for much-needed washing of ourselves and our muddy clothes. After a day’s rest, we set off for the 2 day walk to our waiting car. We walked this section last year, and so didn’t pause for many photos this time. The first day to Port Craig is along the old logging tramway and is easy walking. After a night spent in the quaint old Port Craig school-house, we set off in the steady rain for a wet slog to the carpark. The scenery on this section is lovely too, but our cameras were trying to stay dry in our packs. Much of our waterproof gear failed us on this last day: Steve’s waterproof hearing aids, our ” Event” fabric raincoats and Steve’s waterproof camera, not to mention his very absorbent new hiking shoes. Part of the problem was the warmth and humidity which worked against the breathability of some of the items. Anyway, we have no pix of this last day but plenty stored away from 2015. Finally, we spent the last 2 days doing some tourist stuff: a touch of shopping for me as well as revisiting the drive to Milford Sound and discovering the Mount Aspiring National Park. There are some appealing walks around Mount Aspiring for another visit!

Setting out from the Wairaurahiri Lodge: clean and re-energised!


The tramway track en route to Port Craig.


The amazing viaduct over the Percy Burn.


Mount Aspiring National Park


Mount Aspiring National Park: Waterfall with rainbow.


For more detailed information about sections of the track see also:

2 Responses

  1. Paul Roff

    Hi Guy’s a good read, I’m Roffy your Jet Boat operator who took you down the Wairaurahiri River, I have just put up a facebook page on the South Coast Track (South Coast Track Southern Fiordland) Feel free to add anything to it you wish will always be looking for stuff to put up, let me know your thoughts.
    Kind Regards Roffy

    • admin

      Thanks Roffy. We really enjoyed the trip and will be back again some day. We have still not seen Long Point, the Big River or the Slaughter Burn for example – and Westies Hut deserves much more than the overnight stay we had there. Your Jet Boat provides truly great access to the astonishing part of the world. You should check out our other posts (links at the end of Della’s article). Feel free to use any of our photos. Say ‘Hello’ from us to Rose and Pete at the wonderful Waitutu Lodge. Hope to see you again on the Wairaurahiri! Cheers, Steve & Della Jones.PS: We also have a Facebook Page: Maybe you would like to go to it and like it as your page – you will find that option in the three little dots next to ‘Recommend’. I have already liked your page as the Ultra Light Hiker’s Facebook Page.

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