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Nelson Lakes Five Day Travers Sabine Circuit

The Travers Sabine is a challenging 5 day journey through some of the most spectacular country that the Nelson Lakes has to offer. Ancient beech forests cloak even older glacial valleys. Large scree slopes surround you in the upper basins of the valleys, and as you gradually climb to the pinnacle of the walk at ~1800 m, the Travers Saddle offers you breath-taking views east into the Travers Valley and west into the Sabine Valley.

This hike is designed for guests who have a good level of fitness, and have experienced multi day walks before. More challenging than the Heaphy Track and Abel Tasman Coastal Track, the Travers Sabine has sections that follow a ‘poled’ route over rocky terrain, rather than constantly following a formed track.

While the walk is challenging, it offers a unique opportunity to travel into the Southern Alps in relative comfort. With your guides leading the way and carrying the bulk of the food and equipment, you can relax with a relatively light pack; all your meals organised and cooked for you, and your guide on hand to bring your surroundings to life!


Day 1 – Lakehead to John Tait Hut (5 hours)

Pick up at accommodation in Nelson and transfer to St Arnaud and Nelson Lakes National Park. The briefing and final gear check is done the night before departure so that we can get underway in good time. A water taxi will transfer us to the southern end of Lake Rotoiti and we begin walking up the river flats of the lower Travers Valley. We follow the track through forest and clearings until reaching the Travers Swing Bridge. The valley soon narrows with glimpses of Mt Travers as the track nears Hopeless Creek. The track gradually climbs through beech forest until John Tait Hut (30 bunks) is reached on a grassy clearing.

Day 2 – John Tait Hut to Travers Hut  (4 hours)

The track continues to climb for 1 km until we pass a sidetrack to the Travers Falls. The 20 metre falls drop into a sparkling clear pool and are well worth a visit. From the falls, we continue onward towards our destination – the 30-bunk Upper Travers Hut. The track climbs steeply to Cupola Creek chasm, leaving the river in its gorge below. Finally we emerge from the trees on to an extensive, tussock-covered flat where Upper Travers Hut nestles beneath the east face of Mt Travers.

Day 3 – Upper Travers Hut to West Sabine Hut  (6-9 hours)

Travers Saddle is an alpine pass and today we cross this stunning divide. We cross the Travers River near the hut and follow the snow poles through dense alpine shrubs. Leaving the boulder-strewn valley, the route steepens and zigzags up a scree slope before continuing more gently to the saddle with panoramic views. From the saddle (1787m), the descent is steep, crossing tussock and scree, through stunted beech forest before emerging into an avalanche gully. Finally we descend to the East Sabine valley floor and head to its junction with the west branch where West Sabine Hut (35 bunks) is located.

Day 4 – Rest Day or Optional Side Walk to Blue Lake  (7 hours)

This is a worthwhile day walk from the main circuit. Head upstream from West Sabine swing bridge. After two hours, the valley broadens and the track passes through forest destroyed by an avalanche in 1980. We climb steeply in two stages to a high basin containing the enchanting Blue Lake. As we return to West Sabine Hut the same evening, this walk can be completed with a light day pack.

Day 5 – West Sabine Hut to Sabine Hut   (5 hours)

Our final leg! Crossing the West Sabine River on a swing bridge we turn and follow its true left bank. The track sidles down the valley following the river and crosses three long, open flats. We leave the river behind where it enters a gorge in the lower valley, climbing then descending to rejoin it just 40 mins of easy walking from the Sabine Hut. Located on the edge of Lake Rotoroa this is the end of our walk and from here we are collected by water taxi to transfer down the lake where our van will be waiting to transport us back to Nelson.

Arrive back in Nelson at approximately 6 pm on Day 5.

Includes four night’s hut accommodation in Department of Conservation huts, all meals, guiding services, door to door transport to/from Nelson accommodation.

PLEASE NOTE: This trek is for fit trampers – age is no barrier but it is a challenging five-day walk. The accommodation is in Department of Conservation huts – these are comfortable but basic and must be shared with other walkers. Guests must carry their own pack containing clothing, bedding and a small amount of group food or equipment. Guides carry all safety gear, most of the food and cooking utensils.

NB: There is currently no booking system through the Travers Sabine Circuit, While it is unlikely that the huts will be full there is a small chance guests may need to stay in tents ( Supplied by Southern Wilderness)

Price: $2295 per person

Contact us to book your Southern Wilderness Nelson Lakes journey today!

Or call us on +64 (3) 545-7544 . We look forward to hearing from you soon!

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