Cameron Mountains Fiordland / About

I had been going to New Zealand every year for a few months during the late 1990’s and the early 2000’s as my work as an abseiler on the oil rigs dried up during the Northern Hemisphere winter months. During these months in the New Zealand summer I had walked all the “Great Walks” (some a few times) and done many other lesser known tramps. To me the SW corner of the South Island was God’s Own Paradise and I counted down the months each year before I returned.


In 2003 I had the idea to put a few of the walks together into one unbroken journey. The result was a stunning two week trip:

  • I started at the Greenstone Station by Glenorchy on the west side of Lake Wakatipu and initially walked up the Greenstone Track for a couple of days until I met the Routeburn Track at lake Howden, where I spent the night in the hut.
  • Then walked north along nearly all the Routeburn track in a day to Routeburn Falls Hut which had space. From here I walked to the end of the Routeburn Track and then north on a on a faint path to the rustic Rockburn Hut.
  • On my 5th day I swam over the River Dart and spent the next two day walking up the Dart Track to the Dart Hut. On the 7th Day I tramped over the snowy Cascade Saddle to Aspiring Hut.
  • Then I spent a beautiful day heading through farmland and bush to camp at Junction Flat in the East Matukituki. The next day was an arduous day through bush to camp at Ruth Flat and then to the foot of Rabbit Pass.
  • The 10th  day was a tremendous day up over Rabbit Pass, (which involved some scrambling)  and down Waterfall Face (which required extreme caution even in the dry) and on to the Top Forks Hut in the Wilkin Valley. The next day I walked down the Wilkin River, waded it and headed up to Siberia Hut.
  • On the 12 Day I hiked over Gillespie Pass to the Young Hut and on the final Day 13 I walked down the Young River, waded over the Makarora River to Makarora township where I finished.


Bright Eyed and Bushy Tailed I returned to my base at Te Anau and started to look at longer trips in heart of Fiordland. I went down to the DOC office a few times and slowly won their trust. In particular a ranger called Ken Bradley was extremely helpful and steered me away from the steeper landscapes further north around the Milford and George Sounds area and advised me look at southern Fiordland and recommended the Cameron Mountains. Here I could break out above the treeline and follow ridges. He explained this area was extremely remote and once I had left the notoriously inhospitable Dusky Track I would be in total wilderness for about 2 weeks until I reached the remote South Coast Track. I would have to be totally self-reliant as there would be no one else down there. He advised me to take a radio, but to reduce weight I did not.


Had I not already had some history of trips in difficult terrain with poor weather, also and some confidence in my own resilience and determination I would not have been comfortable undertaking this trip. Even with the recent “warm up” in the previous 2 weeks I would be pushing myself, not least because I would have to start with a near 30 kg backpack and push through thick bush up steep slopes with it. So it was with a fair amount of trepidation when I eventually got my 25 days worth of food packed and set off.


Ken Bradley was right. Once I left Supper Cove I saw no one for about 2 weeks and heard nothing of the world. I was on a complete wilderness journey with no distractions to muddle my appreciation. I was able to savour it and to this day it is one of the best trips I have ever done. I was fortunate I had an exceptional spell of weather and in the 17 days only had one wet day and even then it was just drizzle. There were many rivers to cross and heavy rain could have blocked me for a day or three on many occasions, but I was lucky and reached the South Coast Track relatively unscathed.