Two gorgeous coastal sections and the chance to spot kiwi in the daytime are the highlights of the southernmost Great Walk.
Lee Bay to Port William Hut
A chain sculpture symbolising the anchor stone of Maui’s canoe starts the walk which sidles above the bay to Peters Point and around to Wooding Bay and Maori Beach. At the beach’s northern end, a bridge spans a tidal estuary and then the track climbs to a junction. Head right and descend to Port William, where the 24-bunk hut is in a sheltered bay surrounded by large gum trees. The trees date to a settlement populated by Shetland Islanders in the 1870s.
Port William Hut to North Arm Hut
Retrace steps to the track junction to begin the walk’s forest section, which follows the route of a tramline. The bush is not spectacular because much of it was milled in the early 1900s and with a lack of views, the main points of interest are the milling relics found alongside. North Arm Hut (24-bunks) is worth the forest toil – its deck and windows provide unrestricted views of the bay. Keep an ear out for kiwi calling.
North Arm Hut to Fern Gully Car Park
The track sidles around the headland from North Arm to Sawdust Bay, passing a sawmill site that was operated between 1914 and 1918. The mill was an ecological disaster – so much sawdust entered the bay it killed all marine life.
The track continues inland through forest dominated by rimu and kamahi and emerges at Kidney Fern Arm where there is a historic dam.
At Kapipi Bay, where there was once two sawmills, the track follows the former Kaipipi Road – at one time the busiest road on the island – to the end.
It’s a 2km hike along Main Road back to Oban. An alternative route is along the coastal Ryans Creek Track.
- Total Ascent
- 3 days. To Port William Hut, 3-4hr; To North Arm Hut, 6hr; To Fern Gully car park, 4.5hr
- Port William Hut (24 bunks), North Arm Hut (24 bunks), three campsites
- From Lee Bay