Home / Trips

Greenstone-Caples Track, Greenstone and Caples Conservation Areas

McKellar Hut. Photo: Robyn Goldsmith
Total Ascent
3-4 days
Greenstone Hut, McKellar Hut, Mid Caples Hut
Start via Greenstone car park (86km from Queenstown) or from Howden Hut on the Routeburn
CC09, CB09
GPX File
Greenstone-Caples Track (gpx, yo 494 KB)
Your device does not support GPX files. Please try a different device.

For a slower paced four-day trip, walk the loop clockwise by heading into the Greenstone valley to Greenstone Hut on the first day, north-west up the Greenstone River to McKellar Hut on the second, up and over McKellar Saddle to the Caples River valley to Mid Caples Hut on the third, and back to the car park on the fourth.

It’s a wide, easy-going path for the three hours it takes to get to Greenstone Hut. The track largely follows the Greenstone River, which, while narrow at times, opens up into sweeping valley views, punctuated by stunning views of the sparkling blue-green river.

Following the true left, the trail mostly sidles along the northern valley slope, with impressive waterfalls dropping steeply from the upper reaches of the Ailsa Mountains, offering several opportunities to refill water bottles.

There’s a split in the main track to a side trail that leads to Greenstone Hut. It crosses over a sharply cut gorge in the Greenstone, with mammoth boulders and a roar of water cutting through the limestone below.

The 20-bunk Greenstone Hut lies on the edge of a wide clearing, offering stunning views to the south-east.

From Greenstone Hut, it’s another relatively easy walk to McKellar Hut. The track heads straight up the Greenstone valley for much of the 18km, leading through flat grasslands.

McKellar Hut lies on the border of Fiordland National Park, and just south from Lake McKellar. From the hut, the track leads up and over McKellar Saddle and down the Caples River, a 22km trip to Mid Caples Hut.

The track follows the southern edge of Lake McKellar, with a side trail leading to the lake’s shore. Just past the lake, the trail leads across the narrow head of the valley, rising up a gently graded climb to the saddle.

On the climb to the saddle, appreciate the stunning views of Mt Christina to the south-west. Once on the saddle, a raised boardwalk leads over boggy wetland before dropping into the Caples River gorge.

It’s then a steady but gentle descent through beech forest for nearly two hours, the Caples River occasionally visible to the left.

Mid Caples Hut is in an exquisite location, with incredible views up the Caples Valley.

It’s just 9km from the hut back to the road end, but the peace of the Caples Valley still offers a distinct sense of remoteness.

Support Wilderness

Since 1991, Wilderness has had one simple goal: to help Kiwis ‘See more, do more, live more’ of New Zealand.

If you value our mission, please consider subscribing. As a loyal supporter, you’ll receive these benefits:

  • New Zealand’s best outdoor journalism We’ve won multiple awards for our journalism and magazine production.
  • NZ’s best trips. Browse more than 610 trips with downloadable maps and route notes.
  • Trustworthy gear reviews. Each month we review gear we’ve been bashing and thrashing for months so you can determine if its worth your money.
  • Member benefits. Our WildCard provides discounts at more than 20 partners throughout New Zealand.
  • Your support goes a long way. Your subscription will help us fund NZ’s best outdoor journalists and writers and ensure Wilderness will be there to inspire the next generation of outdoor Kiwis.

A subscription costs as little as $7.00/month for instant access to all articles, trips, gear reviews and gear guides.

View all our subscription options and join the club.

Already a subscriber? Login Now.