Mt Owen tracks and routes
Located in Kahurangi National Park in the Nelson/Tasman region
IntroductionAt 1875 m Mt Owen is the highest peak in Kahurangi National Park and on a fine day the views from this peak are spectacular.
Courthouse Flat to Granity Pass Hut - 8.3 km return via same track
Walking and trampingNorthern access: 9 hr, Southern access 7 hr Advanced: Tramping track
There are several ways to reach the summit of Mt Owen. The northern access is easier than the southern access, which is more demanding.
This track is classified as a tramping track to Granity Pass Hut, and from there to the summit of Mt Owen it is classified as a route.
Courthouse Flat to Granity Pass Hut, 6 hr - 8.3 km (tramping track)
There are two options for the first section of this track. Both are well signposted and take a similar amount of time.
The first option is to walk up the ridge between Granity and Blue Creeks. This is a very open track that can be hot on a summer's day. Ensure you carry plenty of water.
The second option is to walk up Blue Creek Track taking you past old gold mining relics and workings. The track follows Blue Creek for approximately 20 minutes then heads up through beech forest and joins the other track.
Where these tracks join there is a climb to a clearing offering views to the north and west. Cross the clearing and head down through the forest to a saddle. The next section, called 'The Staircase' descends steeply before sidling around marble bluffs and down into blue Creek. From here it is not long to Granity Pass Hut, follow the usually dry marble creek bed to the hut on the true left bank of the stream. There are limited sites in the tussock around Granity Pass Hut for camping, but camp near the hut to minimise the impact on the mountain.
Granity Pass Hut
Granity Pass Hut to Mt Owen, 7hr return (unmarked route)
From Granity Pass Hut follow the route through a large area of tussock grassland. There are no track markers or snow poles from this point onwards. Keep to the east of Sentinel Hill, and then walk through a saddle past several small tarns. From the other side of this saddle, a series of rock cairns lead uphill to the summit.
This route will be difficult and dangerous to follow in snow, misty or bad weather. A map is essential for navigation. Return to Granity Pass Hut the way you came.
This is the most difficult approach to Mt Owen, challenging and requiring a high level of fitness and experience.
Owen Valley East Road to Mt Owen Summit - Sunrise Peak route, 7 hr (route)
The track crosses farmland for approximately 2 km before entering the forest. The river is crossed several times before the track climbs steeply up Sunrise Ridge to the bushline.
Note: Once you leave the Owen River there is no water supply, remember to carry your own.
Above the bushline, scramble up through the thick tussock and steep scree fields to the ridge below Sunrise Peak. Continue northwards towards Mt Owen. Good visibility is essential for route finding. There are no markers or rock cairns above the bushline.
Bushline to Mt Owen summit is 3 hours.
Caution required on Dart River Ford on the Wangapeka River
Image: Ivan Rogers | DOC
If you’re planning to cross the Dart Ford by vehicle, identify suitable conditions first.
Due to ongoing gravel migration filling the ford, the river is flowing over the ford even at low water levels. The ford may be impassable after heavy rain.
Check river flow for Wangapeka at Walter Peak on the Tasman District Council website before you set off.
As a guide, if the flow indicated on the graph exceeds 40 cumecs then it is not advisable to cross. However, the river may still be unsafe to cross because:
- the flow shown on the website can be inaccurate, or
- the Dart River may be flowing higher than the Wangapeka indicates, or
- the culverts under the ford may be choked with gravel.
So you must re-assess the flow conditions once you arrive in terms of your vehicle and driving skill level. Don’t forget to check the weather forecast for your return trip too.
There are several ways to reach the summit of Mt Owen. The two most popular ways are described below. For other options refer to the Mt Owen brochure. You will need the Murchison NZTopo50-BR23 map (1:50,000) and a compass. The northern access to Mt Owen is easier than the southern access, which is more demanding.
From Tapawera, 62 km from Nelson, follow the signposts west to the Wangapeka Valley. There is a ford at the Dart River that may be impassable after heavy rain. After crossing the ford, continue up the valley to Courthouse Flat, the start of the track to Granity Pass Hut.
The Owen River East Road is accessed from SH6, 16 km east of Murchison, near the Owen River Tavern. Follow this road for approximately 13 km until you get to the track signposted to Sunrise Peak, the start of the route to Mt Owen.
Alternatively, turn left down the side road to access the route to Branch Creek Hut via Frying Pan Creek and Fyfe River.
The road crossses private land, please respect the property and leave gates as you find them. If you are planning to camp or driving up at night contact the landowners for permission. Contact DOC Nelson Lakes Visitor Centre for details.
- Trampers need to be experienced, well equipped, fit and self-sufficient. Carry and confidently know how to use a map and compass, or GPS for navigation.
- Poor visibility can make route finding and orientation difficult.
- There are no track markers above the bushline.
- Some rivers do not have bridges and may become impassable after heavy rain.
- The karst landscape is full of shafts.
- Snow may linger on the mountain well into summer.
- Climbing skills and equipment may be necessary.
It's not recommended trampers travel alone. Remember your safety is your responsibility.
Stay safe in the outdoors
- Take the right gear for your trip: Walking and tramping gear lists.
- Tell a trusted person your plans and when to raise the alarm if you haven’t returned. Send them the information directly, or use the Outdoor Intentions form or Plan My Walk.
- Follow the five essential steps of the Land Safety Code.
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