DOC opens Breast Hill Track and huts above Lake Hawea

October 10, 2011

The Department of Conservation (DOC) today announced the opening of Breast Hill Track above Lake Hawea.

18 km long, the new track boasts a variety of highlights, including access to the summit of Breast Hill (1578 m), from where trampers are rewarded with stunning panoramic views over Lake Hawea and the surrounding ranges.

“The track climbs a spectacularly steep landscape which rises from the shores of Lake Hawea,” said DOC’s Wanaka Office Area Manager, Paul Hellebrekers. “The one kilometre climb from the road, including a zig-zag section, may be a challenge for some trampers.”

Breast Hill track connects with the existing Timaru River track, forming a 30 km loop that takes about 2 to 3 days to complete. Two huts are located along the Breast Hill section: the new Pakituhi Hut (constructed by Amalgamated Builders Ltd), and the recently refurbished Stodys Hut (a historic musterer’s hut).

The track’s formation is an outcome of the recently completed tenure review on Lake Hawea Station. Thanks to collaboration between DOC and the Te Araroa Trust, the new track also marks a significant step towards the realisation of Te Araroa, the pathway connecting the length of New Zealand.

Te Araroa Trust CEO Geoff Chapple said the 3,000 km Te Araroa route linked about 300 separate tracks – “but within those 300, this is a sovereign track – one of the very best.”

“Full credit to DOC for recognising the potential and for its determination to get the track resourced and swiftly built.”

“If anyone wants to visualise the scope of the last ice age then the track route along the Breast Hill ridge and the descent to the new Pakituhi Hut offer a succession of brilliant vistas,” said Geoff Chapple. “The heavily glaciated Mt Aspiring dominates the western skyline, then the view opens up onto Lake Hawea far below. Beyond are the terminal moraines of the huge glaciers that halted here 12,000 years ago, and that give the huge Hawea and Wanaka basins their smoothly terraced grandeur. It is a very powerful landscape, and for Te Araroa walkers headed south, there could be no better entry onto Otago.”

DOC recommends that people intending to use the new track visit the Wanaka DOC visitor centre for further information.

Access to the track is situated approx 6 km from Hawea township on the Timaru Creek Road.

A bit of history

Excerpt from Stodys hut book (by Tom Rowley – Lakes Hawea Station March 2011):

“This hut was a Musterers Hut. Part of Lake Hawea Station. When we mustered this block 3 men would walk up Timaru Creek hunting the sheep up as they came up the Valley. Another 2 men came over the top from the Homestead and came out and mustered the next basin out and then came back to the hut where the “Packee” would have a meal cooking. We would “break camp” at 4 o’clock in the morning and muster through towards the Lake. I have very fond memories of our times in this hut … If these walls could talk there would be some great stories told.”