The Haast to Hollyford Coastal Walk - 10 days

Fiordland Coast Walks Haast to Hollyford


With untouched Te Wahi Pounamu wilderness coastline and one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, the Hollyford Track, this walk is without doubt one of New Zealand’s best. We are running three walks this season and invite you to join us. This is the first time ever that guided walks have been offered on this route.

The Haast Hollyford coastal route has long been known as a route between the West Coast and Southland regions. It is spectacularly scenic. It is remote. It will leave you spellbound.


- The route is overland, generally from north to south, and does not involve heli flights.
- Some gear and provisions are flown ahead.
- The route involves the Forgotten Coast walk, Big Bay and finally the Hollyford Track.
- The itinerary allows for flexibility and rest days.


The Basics



10 days, 135 km.

November 2014 Tuesday 11th
January 2015 Saturday 10th  
March 2015 Thursday 19th


Group size:

$2,895.00 per person

Maximum 6 people plus guide.
Minimum 3 people plus guide.

Difficulty: Moderate. A higher degree of fitness is required due to the length of the walk and gear carrying requirements.
Equipment: Camping gear and provisions are generally carried by all in the group, in addition to personal gear. Some provisions are flown ahead.

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Day 1: Queenstown to Barn Bay
We depart early from Queenstown for the scenic drive through Wanaka and Haast Pass to the untouched wilderness of the West Coast. We take a short drive into the Cascade Valley and to the road end;  from there we begin. We hike across some of the West Coast’s southern most farming operations, cross the stunning Cascade River and then hike around the bush-clad foothills, keeping New Zealand’s largest wetland, the Hermitage Swamp, to our right. The final stretch alongside the Hope River takes us to our first night in the cosy fisherman’s hut at Barn Bay, where offshore islands, a beach, lagoon and a reef make for a spectacular setting.

Distance 18 km (6 hours walking time)
Accommodation Fisherman’s hut, or camping.
Difficulty Easy – mostly track.

Day 2: Barn Bay to Spoon River
We cross the Hope River and hike around the coast past Little Cascade Bay. This stretch hosts the endangered tawaki (Fiordland crested penguin) and if we are lucky we may spot some. After passing an old unknown shipwreck slowly being grown through by the coastal vegetation, we follow an old trail over Sandrock Bluff. Kaka are sometimes enountered at the top. Coming out onto an empty sandy beach we cross Callery Creek and head along to our campsite at the mouth of remote Spoon River, a place for wandering and exploration.

Distance 10 km (5-6 hours walking time)
Accommodation Camping
Difficulty Moderate – morning is mostly boulder-stepping and stone beach, and the afternoon is track and sandy beach.

Day 3: Spoon River to Gorge River
Heading south from Spoon River we pass Fork River and a place of mystery, Browns Refuge, along sandy beaches and more sheltered bays.  These gently curving coves are easy and attractive. The coastline from here to Gorge River is beautiful sculpted gravel beaches. We pass the shipwreck Empress, still protruding from the shore, and shortly after arrive at spectacular Gorge River for our third night. Early afternoon allows time for exploring this special location. Gorge River has a peacefulness and depth that inspires and invigorates.

Distance 8 km (3-4 hours)
Accommodation DOC hut at Gorge River, or camping
Difficulty Easy. Mostly sand and gravel beach.

Day 4: Gorge River to Hacket River
In the morning we walk south along a rock and boulder-strewn coast, brilliant in its untouched state, to Longridge Point for lunch. Tawaki (the endangered Fiordland crested penguin) inhabit this stretch and can be heard and, if lucky, seen in the fringe coastal bush or sunning on the rocks. Next a long empty wild sandy beach leads us towards Ryans Creek and more curved and rarely visited beach and rocky coastline to a place of magic, the Hacket River.

Distance 12 km (6-7 hours)
Accommodation Camping at Hacket River.
Difficulty Moderate. Morning is boulder-hopping. Afternoon is sandy beach and rocky coastline walking.

Day 5: Hacket River to Big Bay
We have a bouldery morning walk along this north-facing stretch of coast towards Awarua Point. Awarua Point juts into the deep blue Tasman Sea and has long views up and down the coast as well as inland to the Fiordland mountains. It has also been the source of some of New Zealand’s largest pounamu boulders. On some of this coast an early attempt to take bulldozers for inland prospecting can still be seen and actually makes for a walking track at times. Following lunch at the point we continue around past Crayfish Rock and over the wandering Awarua River to the hut at Big Bay.

Distance 10 km (5-6 hours)
Accommodation DOC hut at Big Bay
Difficulty Moderate. Rock and boulder-stepping

Day 6: Big Bay to Martins Bay
The morning begins with a fine walk along the broad sandy beach of Big Bay towards McKenzie Creek, named after some of the early pioneers who lived in the area. The afternoon walk around the numerous coves and beaches of this north-facing sheltered coastline is a delight. Paua (abalone) can be found along here and sometimes makes for a pleasant addition to the evening meal.

Distance 14 km (7-8 hours)
Accommodation DOC hut at Martins Bay, or camping nearby.
Difficulty Easy to moderate. Sandy and stony beaches, some rock-stepping.

Day 7: Martins Bay to Hokuri.
We leave the rivermouth and coast heading upstream towards Lake McKerrow, a beautiful long lake formed by past glaciations. The coastal vegetation gives way to tall podocarp forest of giant ancient rimu, totara and kahikatea. Over vibrant streams, such as Jerusalem Creek, and on past the bay where the long abandoned pioneer settlement of Jamestown once stood to the hut at Hokuri Creek for the night.

Distance 13 km (4 – 5 hours walking time)
Accommodation DOC hut at Kokuri Creek or camping nearby.
Difficulty Easy to moderate. Formed and partly formed track.

Day 8: Hokuri to Demon Trail
This is a shorter day with alternating easy and more difficult sections of track. Otherwise it is another day in Fiordland paradise – pristine rainforest, mountains reaching for the sky, lively creeks and streams, enchanting birdlife, a sparkling lake and, finally, a warm and inviting hut at the end of the day.

Distance 9 km (5 – 6 hours walking time)
Accommodation DOC hut at Martins Bay, or camping nearby.
Difficulty Moderate. Alternating flat and undulating track

Day 9: Demon Trail to Lake Alabaster
The morning takes us up to the head of Lake McKerrow and McKerrow Island followed by a stretch of lower lying track where gorgeous mosses and wetlands remind us of primeval times. We follow the Hollyford River, one of Fiordland’s largest catchments, to the Pike River confluence and then over the swing bridge and a short distance further to the hut at Lake Alabaster.

Distance 14 km (6 – 7 hours walking time)
Accommodation DOC hut at Lake Alabaster, or camping nearby.
Difficulty Easy to moderate track.

Day 10: Lake Alabaster to Hollyford road-end and Queenstown
After heading the short distance back to the Hollyford River, we follow the valley up to Little Homer Falls then up and over the Little Homer Saddle. From here and further along, there are views of Fiordland’s tallest mountain, Mt Tutoko, and the sky-scraping Darran Mountains. The track passes along beautiful alternating moss and fern-draped podocarp forest and tall beech forest, then finally to the road-end. Our comfortable transport then takes us for the very scenic drive back through Te Anau to your accommodation in Queenstown.