Percy Burn viaduct
Image: Stephen Patience | DOC


This project seeks to develop the Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track into a Great Walk.

In 2019, it was announced that the Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track would become Aotearoa New Zealand’s next (11th) Great Walk.

The track opened in late November 2001, as a multi-day hike, and is run privately on behalf of the Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track Charitable Trust.

It will be a stunning addition to the Great Walks network. Located in Te Wāhipounamu, the south-west corner of the South Island, the track journeys through spectacular and diverse landscapes, including seascapes, sandy beaches, native forests and an alpine environment with soaring limestone tors.

About the Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track

The Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track is a 3-day, 61 km loop walk, that takes trampers along the south coast of western Southland, up to the sub-alpine zone of the Hump Ridge and over historic viaducts (bridges) surrounded by native forest.

The idea for this track came in 1988 as a response to the loss of NZ Forestry Services from Tuatapere, after the ban on native logging in the mid-1980s. The Tuatapere & Districts Promotions Group suggested the construction of a tramping track would be an opportunity to support the community, with jobs and the income brought into the area from the visiting track walkers.

The idea was embraced, and the community provided numerous volunteer hours, skills, tools and resources from 1994 to 2001 to create the track.

It opened in November 2001 and is operated by a not-for-profit business, Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track Inc., on behalf of the Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track Charitable Trust.

The track currently begins at the Rarakau carpark, which is located about 30 km from Tuatapere. It traverses several South Island Landless Native Act (SILNA) blocks before it crosses into Fiordland National Park. The southern section of the walk follows the DOC-managed South Coast Track.

This area has a rich history. The stories of mana whenua/iwi and the forestry heritage, including the viaducts and Port Craig, will be part of the Great Walk experience.

About the project

The goal of this project is to develop the Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track into a Great Walk.

The aim is for it to be a world-class visitor experience that reflects the significant cultural and heritage values of the area and inspires increased conservation advocacy.

Information about the Great Walk selection process can be found on the Selecting new Great Walks webpage.

Although the Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track has been operational as a multi-day hike for more than 20 years, work is needed to bring it to the Great Walk standard. This includes upgrades to the track surface, structures and carpark, as well as the interpretation and storytelling package.

There are several challenges to be addressed for this project to succeed. These include:

  • bringing the South Coast Track up to Great Walk standard, including fixing drainage
  • ensuring legal access across all private land that the track crosses
  • ensuring safety concerns on and around the track are addressed
  • ensuring the viaducts can be managed and maintained for long term public access
  • developing a long-term management strategy for the Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track Charitable Trust to manage the track effectively and safely.

Working with others

The DOC Strategic Projects Team leads the project with oversight from a Governance Group that includes mana whenua, namely Te Rūnanga o Ōraka-Aparima, the Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track Charitable Trust and the track operating business, the Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track Inc.

The project team are also working with the various stakeholders that have a relationship to the Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track, including SILNA representatives, Rowallan Alton Inc., Southland District Council, Heritage New Zealand and Port Craig Viaducts Charitable Trust.

The track crosses land managed by DOC and Southland District Council, SILNA blocks, as well as areas owned by Rowallan Alton Inc. and other private individuals or groups. Good representation and cooperation from all parties will ensure the project is successful.

At the conclusion of the project, the Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track Charitable Trust will continue to manage and operate the upgraded track and facilities as a Great Walk.

Community benefit

The project is expected to benefit the local area – through additional employment, business opportunities and the increased tourism/visitor spend.

The closed borders and loss of international tourism due to COVID-19 restrictions has resulted in a substantial increase in New Zealanders visiting the great outdoors – especially during the summer season and public holidays.

There has already been an increase in usage of the Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track since the 2019 Great Walk announcement.

Project progress

The project set-up and the detailed supporting work started in 2020. The project’s track construction phase will happen across 2022-23 with the project forecast for completion in late 2023.

The 61 km track has been divided into sections. This will allow the construction contracting teams to undertake the track upgrade work concurrently. 

Hump Ridge Track upgrade map (3,722K)

Timeframes and key tasks 

June 2019 – September 2021

  • Announcement of the decision to make the Hump Ridge Track a Great Walk.
  • Project team stood up.
  • Development of relationships with partners and key stakeholders.
  • Background work started - including governance, legal, financial, compliance, land access, asset management, track and structures assessment, historical and heritage evaluations etc.

October 2021

  • Community information day in Tuatapere to share the latest project news.
  • Completion of the scoping of the construction work required to bring the track up to Great Walk status.
  • Launch of project webpage and project newsletter.

December 2021

  • Request for Tenders (RFT) for the track upgrade (excluding Section D) released on the Government Electronic Tender Service (GETS) (This is the process used to inform and invite registered contractors to tender for work.)
  • Initiation of the plan for upgrading Track Section D. (This work is separate to the tender process due to the track being in very poor condition and needing urgent repair.)

January – June 2022

  • RFT for the Track Upgrade continued with:
    • interested contractors attending a pre-tender meeting and on-site visits – these sessions were designed to inform the contractors about the project outcome and level of work required to complete the upgrade works
    • submission of tenders by interested contractors
    • evaluation of tenders by the project team
    • discussion with contractors about their tenders
    • notification to contractors of outcomes of tenders for all sections of track.

February 2022

  • Waharoa development meeting with Oraka Aparima and Rowallan Alton Inc.

April 2022

  • A Whakatau te whenua held by mana whenua mana moana of the rohe Ōraka Aparima Rūnaka. (A ceremony to settle the land, bless the track and clear the way for track construction work to begin).
  • The contractor begins the upgrade work at Track Section D. (The work was expected to take 8-10 weeks however final completion was been affected by weather and resourcing issues).
  • Distribution of the second project newsletter.

June 2022

  • Approval of the detailed business case that confirmed the project budget and expected work.
  • Key details are:
    • The project capital expenditure costs will be $7.9m
    • The project will deliver a Great Walk at the Hump Ridge location by upgrading the track surface and structures
    • This includes a new swing bridge at the Edwin Burn to bypass the Edwin Burn Viaduct. Note: the viaduct is not being removed or is it unsafe - this bridge will provide an alternative crossing should the viaduct become unusable
    • The work listed also includes an extension of carparking at Rarakau and an entrance waharoa (gateway), shelter and additional toilets
    • The high-level experience design, which includes storytelling and interpretation, is approved for detailed development
    • The work on the detailed assessment for the protection of the heritage and cultural values/impacts for the track and environs, including a conservation heritage plan for Port Craig
    • The main construction phase will begin mid-late 2022 and continue well into 2023
    • The project is forecast for completion in late 2023.

August 2022

  • The contractual agreements, planning and scheduling of all approved project works with successful contractors completed.
  • Rarakau car park design works completed.


  • The detailed development of the experience design plan for the storytelling and interpretation packages.
  • The work on negotiating legal easements with landowners to secure public access.
  • Sharing of project news via regular newsletter.
  • Updating this webpage as the project develops.


If you want to know more about the project, or be added to the distribution list for the project newsletters, email

This is a shared project mailbox that is monitored regularly and one of the project team will get back to you.

Project updates

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