South Coast Track History and Dramatic Beauty

South Coast Track

The South Coast Track takes four days to walk from Rarakau car park to Big River.  Track conditions can be muddy, with unbridged streams and rivers.

Rarakau car park to Port Craig School Hut:

 (7 hours, 20 kilometres)

From Rarakau car park, the track follows an old road over several suspension bridges and past beach-side baches.  Passing the Hump Ridge Okaka Lodge turnoff, the track skirts several beaches and headlands before arriving at the magnificent Blowholes Beach.  Hector’s dolphin are often seen all along this coastline.

From here the track climbs over another headland to Breakneck Creek, after which it re-enters the forest before arriving at the historic Port Craig School hut and Port Craig Lodge.

Port Craig School Hut to Wairaurahiri Hut:

 (6 hours, 16 kilometres)

The track follows an old logging tramline for 15 kilometres through regenerating native forest.  The Sandhill and Percy Burn viaducts are reached after two hours walk from Port Craig, with the Tuatapere Port Craig Viaducts Trust hut sited at Percy Burn.

The track continues and crosses both the Edwin Burn and Francis Burn viaducts.  At the end of the tramline the track enters mature bush and descends through three river terraces to a clearing on the banks of the Wairaurahiri River, and the Wairaurahiri Hut.

The privately owned Waitutu Lodge is located on the opposite side of the river, approximately 600 metres off the track towards the coast.

Wairaurahiri Hut to Waitutu Hut:

 (6 hours, 13 kilometres)

This track winds through private Māori land and bush clad coastal terraces until meeting the Waitutu River, where a suspension bridge gives access to the Waitutu hut.

Waitutu Hut to Big River:

 (5+hours, 12 kilometres)

From the Waitutu hut, the track is maintained to a marked route standard and is recommended for experienced trampers only.  Westies Hut is located in a sea cave at Prices Harbour, signposted from the track about two kilometres east of Big River.

Access:

From Tuatapere, drive approximately 28 kilometres via Papatotara Road, following the signs to Bluecliffs Beach and the Rarakau car park (7 kilometres of this road are unsealed).

More Information:

More information on the South Coast Track can be found on the Department of Conservation South Coast Track page.

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