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The Leslie-Karamea Track is one of the region’s premier semi-wilderness experiences, situated in the middle of Kahurangi National Park. It is a 3-4 day link through the earthquake-torn Karamea Valley, between Flora car park and the Wangapeka Track; 6-9 days are needed to get from road end to road end.
The Leslie-Karamea is classified as a tramping track. It is marked but not benched, and quite rough in places. Many of the streams along the track are not bridged and flood-prone. Strong footwear, backcountry experience and a good level of fitness are required for any trip into this area.
Flora car park to Salisbury Lodge
Time: 4 hr 30 min
Distance: 13.2 km
From the car park at the road end (36 km from Motueka), the track leads over Flora Saddle, past Flora Hut and up to Salisbury Lodge on the Tableland. Just beyond the lodge is the sign where the Leslie–Karamea track itself begins.
Salisbury Lodge to Karamea Bend Hut
Time: 6 hr
Distance: 18 km
From the sign, a line of poles runs to the bush edge at the top of Leslie Hill and begins descending to the Leslie River. After about one hour downhill, Splugeons Rock Shelter is reached.
Beyond the shelter the track drops steeply to the Leslie River and crosses it on a swingbridge. It then follows the true left bank down to Karamea Bend Hut.
Karamea Bend Hut to Crow Hut
Time: 3 hr 30 min
Distance: 9.7 km
The track heads up the Karamea on the true right bank, crossing Slippery Creek and a clearing, the Little Backwash and the Big Backwash. Just over the Crow River swingbridge is Crow Hut. When the Karamea River is low, it is possible to follow the riverbed from Karamea Bend almost to the Crow.
Crow Hut to Venus Hut
Time: 2 hr
Distance: 5.9 km
The track continues on the true right bank for about one hour to a bridge across the Karamea River. Across on the left bank the track sometimes scrambles around the riverside but mostly stays on forested terraces alongside the river to Venus Hut
Venus Hut to Thor Hut
Time: 2 hr
Distance: 5.7 km
This section follows the river terraces, sometimes merging with the riverside and riverbed. Mercury Creek, about 30 minutes above Venus Hut, is a major side stream spanned by a swingbridge. Near Atlas Creek the track hugs the cliffs above the river and is fairly narrow. Thor Hut is just across Thor Creek, on the edge of a slip caused by the 1929 Murchison Earthquake.
Thor Hut to Trevor Carter Hut
Time: 3 hr 30 min
Distance: 9.5 km
Upriver from Thor Hut the track climbs and makes a long sidle, crossing several earthquake-triggered slips where care is needed. One of these slips, which came down Apollo Creek from Mt Kendall (1762m), dammed the Karamea River forming Moonstone Lake. The lake backs up for almost three kilometres and some of the trees drowned during its formation still stand as naked trunks.
At the head of the lake continue on the true left of the Karamea River to Kendall Creek, which divides into several streams near its mouth and is dangerous when in flood. The track rounds a granite spur and crosses a grassy flat to the old Trevor Carter Hut site (hut removed in 2003). Cross the swingbridge onto the true right of the Karamea River, walk downstream for 15 minutes to Trevor Carter Hut.
When the Karamea River is running low, an alternative track is signposted to Trevor Carter Hut on the main track before reaching Kendall Creek.
Trevor Carter Hut to the Wangapeka Track
There are several options, depending on the weather, river levels and fitness. The usual, and most direct, are up Lost Valley Creek or the Karamea River itself: the former follows Lost Valley Creek up to a saddle and then drops back down to the Karamea River, crossing it to Helicopter Flat Hut (Trevor Carter Hut to Helicopter Flat Hut, 1 hr 30 min). The latter follows the true right of the Karamea River, crossing below Saxon Falls and climbing to the Wangapeka Track at Tabernacle Lookout (Trevor Carter Hut to the lookout, 1 hr).
Alternatively, it is possible to join the Wangapeka Track at Taipo swingbridge by following the true left bank of the Karamea River (swingbridge to Taipo bridge, 45 min). In flood conditions this may be the only option.
Lastly, a marked route leads from Trevor Carter Hut over Biggs Tops, joining the Wangapeka Track at Wangapeka Saddle (Trevor Carter Hut to Wangapeka Saddle, 5 hr).
back to top
Exit to the east
Alert: Wangapeka Track closed See Nelson/Tasman alerts for more information
Tabernacle Lookout to Rolling Junction road end (Wangapeka Track)
Time: 2 days
Follow the Karamea River upstream, past Helicopter Flat Hut to Wangapeka Saddle (1010 m). The section between Helicopter and Stone Huts can become impassable after heavy rain. From Wangapeka Saddle follow the Wangapeka River all the way to the road end.
Exit to the west
Helicopter Flat Hut to the West Coast (Wangapeka Track)
Time: 2 days
Head down the Karamea River to Tabernacle Lookout and around a ridge to the Taipo swingbridge. The track goes up the true left of the Taipo River to just above Taipo Hut, where it crosses the river and climbs steeply (past an emergency shelter) to Little Wanganui Saddle (1110 m). Over the saddle the track drops into the Little Wanganui, following it to the road end.
Other entry points
Cobb Valley to Salisbury Lodge
Time: 4 hr
From the head of the Cobb Reservoir a track climbs up to Cobb Ridge and then heads on to Lake Peel, Balloon Hut and Salisbury Lodge.
Baton road end to Karamea Bend Hut
Time: 8 hr
A tramping track follows the Baton upstream for three hours to Flanagans Hut (8 bunks), from where a marked route climbs to Baton Saddle (1370 m). On the Leslie side a tramping track descends to Wilkinson Creek and follows it to the Leslie River, down to the Karamea Bend Hut.
Flora car park
Roads from Nelson and Motueka meet the Motueka River at Ngatimoti where a bridge crosses to West Bank Road. The unsealed Graham Valley Road climbs steeply to Flora car park where there is a toilet and information shelter.
Wangapeka Track (eastern end)
From Tapawera follow the signposts west to the Wangapeka Valley. While there is a swingbridge for foot traffic, the Dart River may not be passable by vehicles after heavy rain. There is an information kiosk and public telephone at Prices Creek, just before the track entrance.
Wangapeka Track (western end)
From the West Coast road, turn off at Little Wanganui and drive inland on Wangapeka Road to the car park where the track begins.
A bus service runs from Nelson to Tapawera. From Nelson, Motueka, and Tapawera, on-demand services run to the entrances of the track. Similar services run from the Karamea end, and an air service can take you back to your starting poin
South Island ▷ West Coast ▷ Karamea
One week of sunny weather, rivers, forests, mountains around..... just wilderness.