Two hidden valleys in rugged Otago
Keen to explore a lesser-known track close to Queenstown? If you want to embrace what this region has to offer but want to avoid the high prices and long queues, then consider this exciting route.
Join me on this multi-day Adventure connecting the Greenstone and Caples Valley via the sub-alpine McKellar Saddle.
We’ll walk over open valley flats filled with tussock and beech forest, before climbing up to vast views and hiking along a boardwalk over fragile vegetation.
- Stay in 3 backcountry huts
- Traverse native bush, swing bridges and glacier-fed rivers
- Hike through two World Heritage valleys
- Experience one of the world’s most beautiful locations close up and personal
Starting with a pleasant hike through the Greenstone Valley, we can warm-up for the climb to the McKellar saddle at 945m. Turquoise water pools, chasms and dense forest are only some of the features along the way, also including Lake McKellar. After crossing the saddle, we’ll descend into the narrower Caples Valley with big cliffs, gorges and swing bridges.
You’ll get a bit of everything on this trip, which makes it such a great getaway – and you’ll likely have the views to yourself for the majority of it.
I have been going into the hills since the age of 5, following in my father’s footsteps. I was captured by the beauty of the Southern Alps and moved here 30 years ago. Since then I have spent all my spare moments climbing, hunting and hiking in New Zealand's Southern Alps. I want to share with you some of what I feel is the finest walking in the world. I am a local and passionate about the mountains I love so much. I want to share my knowledge and help impart to others a rich personal experience by showing what it feels like to walk amongst the wild places of New Zealand. The Southern Alps are a unique wilderness that deserves an introduction in words, but a good bushman will know that often words fall away. Silenced by the grandeur and majesty of the land we walk upon, and the land will speak directly to you. Now your own story in this land starts as we walk these special places. [embed]https://youtu.be/T87RBizWDYM[/embed]
- Shaun's ship was hit by an Exocet anti-ship missile in the Persian Gulf in January 1986. He was one of 7 from his crew of 25 to survive uninjured
- Firearm familiarisation
- Bushcraft survival
- Hunting and trapping, tracking skills general bush-craft
A getaway for beginners and experts alike
Located close to Glenorchy, the start of the circuit allows us to hike it in either direction.
We’ll head to Greenstone Hut for our first night and can stop at the water pools on the way for a quick (cold) dip, before exploring more of the area.
There are multiple swing bridges along the whole track and we’ll mostly follow open valley flats for the first section. Native bush and tussock make this a paradise for our native birds. Lake McKellar marks the beginning of our climb to the saddle and we can take our time up there to enjoy the views and the unique vegetation.
The snow-capped mountain ranges make this especially beautiful in the colder months, with a fire waiting in the serviced huts at the end of each day. Once we’ve descended towards the Caples Valley, a hike past cliffs, gorges and dense beech forest awaits. The Mid Caples Hut is our last accommodation before we make our way through bush and grassy clearings back to the car park.
Get away from it all
This Adventure is designed for even the busiest/stressed individual to completely re-energise and clear their minds. There is simply nothing better than getting deep into the backcountry, spending time climbing and beating the elements while connecting with our wonderful country. It’s no walk in the park, but it’s a comfortable challenge making those huts all the more special when we reach them.
If you’re a group or family who wants something truly unique and memorable, doing this trip will tick the boxes, and I can accommodate.
I’ve grown up in this region and spent many, many days exploring everything it has to offer – ever since Dad first took me out. This isn’t just a guided hike, it’ll be educational where I can fill you in on the geological features, the native wildlife who are sure to follow us, and the history of the tracks.
All tours require the proper gear to ensure you’re having the time of your life, and are well prepared if things go south. It’s the real and rugged New Zealand out there!
1.5L water container
Cutlery, bowl & cup
Lighter / Matches
Pack Cover / Liner
Sunscreen & hat
Toiletries & Underwear
Top & Bottom Base layer
Torch & Batteries
Warm hat & gloves (March to October)
Warm hiking layer
Cooker & gas/fuel
Personal First Aid Kit
There are add-on extras for this tour. These are the little things that’ll either make your Adventure easier to organise or more rugged - your choice. You can add these during the booking process.
Book a Lensman
Want your Adventure captured in stunning, professional photos? We’ve got a Lensman (like Bushmen but with cameras) who will join you and capture all the best moments so you don’t have to. These professional stunning photos are so good, our Visitors have them framed in their homes. Leave your camera at home and let us capture the moments.<br />+ $350 NZD
Q & A
Your Bushman has added a couple of answers to questions other Visitors have asked in the past to help you with your booking plans. Once you book a tour, you'll be in direct contact with your Bushman for more support.
Where are we staying?
We can either stay in the serviced backcountry huts along the way or camp out next to them. The huts have basic facilities like bunk beds, fireplaces, drop-down toilets, cooking benches and water tanks.
How steep are the climbs?
While the section to McKellar saddle is a bit of a climb, the track is mostly easy-going over valley flats and through sheltered beech forest. The distance is the main reason why it’s classed as intermediate. It’s a great introduction to multi-day hiking and makes for a relaxing getaway.
What kind of clothing should I wear?
It can get a bit cold on top of the McKellar saddle, so I recommend bringing a rain jacket and some warm layers of breathable clothing. Have a look at our minimum requirements for this trip if you’re unsure what else to bring.
Here’s a few answers to the more general questions about the whole journey. You can visit our help and support area for any further information or contact us via the chat function.
What is the refund and cancellation policy?
Bushman Tours sets a standard cancellation policy that can be found via our Terms & Conditions. This is globally set at 48 hours notice. However, Bushmen may add to this depending on the requirements for the Adventure (e.g. - hiring gear and renting equipment on your behalf). The final policy will be located at the bottom of the checkout, or you can reach out to us to check.
What happens if the tour is cancelled due to weather?
In most cases, the Bushman can arrange another day to run your tour, but this also comes down to when you're available if travelling through New Zealand. We recommend ensuring you have insurance for cancellation of any tours. If the Bushman has to cancel due to a health risk, we will call you to arrange another option.
What gear do I need?
Although we have a minimum requirement of gear, you will need the right equipment and gear that is relevant to the Adventure you're booking. This is usually found at the bottom of each tour page, but for our minimum, please visit our FAQs & blog page.
Can I hire gear/equipment?
In some circumstances, your Bushman will have equipment for you to hire. This is available to browse and book through the checkout. We may also have options through our checkout. Although you may be able to borrow gear during the tour, it's important to reserve it now.
What food shall I bring?
Depending on the length, this can vary. Your Bushman will advise on the tour page what is recommended for this particular Adventure, but typically, what we offer at checkout via the add-ons section is what you'll need. Keep it lightweight and nutritious if you buy your own.
Where do I meet my Bushman?
We always try to pick the closest iSite (Visitor Centre) to your Adventure's location. Instructions on precisely where to meet are sent after the booking is made. However, you can also message your Bushman and arrange another location as long as it's close enough to the region.
How much extra is it to add family/friends onto the booking?
If you book and find that more people want to come with you, we can arrange to add them onto the booking (this is dependant on the Bushman's preference to the number of people to take out). The more that book on the original checkout option, the cheaper the fee for each individual - so spread the word before you go to book! Please note, you cannot add or bring extra people 48 hours before the tour starts.
Can I talk to my Bushman before the Adventure?
Absolutely! Once you book, you will be able to login and chat directly to your Bushman through a private, secure chat. Here you can arrange some extras you would like to do, timings for pick up and much more.
Need more help?
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