The Hump Ridge track is a 62km three day hike in the beautiful Fiordland National Park on the South Island of New Zealand. It has been rumoured to be considered for Great Walk status, but currently it is run by a charitable co-operative.
You’ll hike through exquisite forest dripping in moss - possibly the greatest forest we have ever walked in - as well as on wild wind swept beaches and ridge lines with views as far as Stewart Island.
Hump Ridge Track Overview
The walk is much quieter than many other hikes in the ever popular Fiordland National Park. This gives you the feeling you’ve been let in on a fabulous secret, it really is a true hidden gem. If it does get Great Walk status it will become a lot more popular so now really is the time to tackle this track.
The Hump Ridge also has some lux amenities if you like a little more comfort on your walk such as hot showers and private rooms to make this tough walk a little bit easier.
Here's our guide to everything you need to know about hiking the Hump Ridge Track in summer. Conditions are very different in winter and facilities more limited.
If you’re looking for our personal account walking this track you can find it here.
The Hump Ridge Track Elevation
The Hump Ridge is one of the tougher hikes we've done in New Zealand with each day being nearly or over 20km long and taking around five to six hours.
The elevation on day one in particular is very steep in the final ascent. Whilst the first 10-15km are flat, the last part up to Okaka is relentless.
Day two may look like a relief, but the downhill section is also steep. There are steps made to help you, but you'll feel this day in your legs! The third day doesn't look too steep from the map, but it has a lot of small hills that add up.
Having said that we are not terribly fit and we managed it. We did five steep day walks in the weeks leading up to the Hump Ridge and found that this really helped. It’s also a good idea to practice carrying a bit of weight too as this makes quite a big difference to the ease of walking.
Booking the Hump Ridge Track
The Hump Ridge doesn't book out as quickly as the Great Walks of New Zealand, so you don't need to book as far in advance.
There are rumours of it becoming a great walk, but until that happens, we don’t imagine that you will have to wait for the day the tickets go on sale.
Having said that you never know so we’d advise booking as soon as you are sure of your dates, especially if they fall in peak season.
Hump Ridge Track Cost
The Hump Ridge Track costs NZ$195 for the bunkhouse option including a breakfast of porridge and brown sugar each morning. You can upgrade to a private room for an extra $100 NZ per room. Hot showers are also avaliable for NZ$20 per person and this includes one shower at each lodge.
We went as part of our Christmas holiday and treated ourselves to the private room option (which includes the shower) and cannot recommend it highly enough. It was a lovely comfortable double room with a hot water bottle - despite going in summer it was 1.5C at Okaka Lodge!! Your time in the shower is limited to I think three minutes from memory but it’s enough time if you use it wisely : )
You can't walk this track for free as it is a charitable organisation managed by the Tuatapere community and they do an amazing job maintaining it, check out all that board walk!
There are other add ons you can make use of such as transfers to the trail head. We chose to drive ourselves and there was plenty of parking (on a donation basis, suggestion was $5 NZ).
You can also choose to have your pack transferred by helicopter up to Okaka Lodge on day one. This means you are walking with only a day pack on the hardest day of the walk and it costs $100 per pack. Just remember you have to carry it for the following two days so don’t overpack!
Hump Ridge Track Weather
The Hump Ridge Track is at the southern tip of Fiordland National Park and receives the usual changeable Fiordland Weather. When we hiked in the middle of the summer, we had gale force winds, temperatures of less than 2C and rain. This is not unusual, so it pays to be prepared.
In each hut there will be a weather update written on the board to help you know what to expect the following day.
Getting to the Hump Ridge Track
You can drive from Queenstown in 2.5 hours or Te Anau in 1.5 hours.
The closest town is Tuatapere which has a couple of restaurants and hotels, as well as the cute accommodation we chose - Wicked Wee Dump on the Hump.
This was a self contained option with an outdoor bath tub, which we really loved. We took the homemade cake provided on the track with us and it tasted sublime!
Huts on the Hump Ridge Track
All of the huts on the Hump Ridge are very good and are a step up for those who are used to DOC Huts. You can choose the cheaper option of bunk rooms, or you can upgrade to a private room. The huts also have hot showers which is amazing after a long day hiking. The toilets and bathrooms are in separate buildings to the rooms, but they aren't too far.
All huts provide porridge breakfasts and sell food (freeze dried), snacks and alcohol, meaning you only have to bring your lunches.
They are also exceptionally well stocked with crockery, cutlery and utensils. Although we saw people preparing full steak dinners, we went for a more modest pasta dish and it was great to be able to include fresh veg.
In Okaka you can wash and leave glass jars and bottles, but everything else must be carried out - so don’t bring unnecessary packaging. Gas is also available so you can leave you gas burner at home, luxury!
Okaka was our favourite with some comfy seating around the fire and even some board games and books!
What to pack for the Hump Ridge Track
Rain coats are essential as the Hump Ridge can feel the full brunt of the weather from the Great Southern Ocean. They also double up to benefit as a wind breaker.
Thermals are a must as the temperatures can really drop. Whilst staying in Okaka Lodge the temperature dropped to below 2C and our thermals made a big difference. Also make sure you always have a dry set of clothes for the huts, you can warm up hiking, but you can't warm up when sitting still in a hut (unless you get that prime position by the fire in Okaka, but don’t count on it).
You can buy freeze dried food in each hut (they had a veggie option too), but if you want something fresher you'll have to bring it yourself. You will also want to bring a lunch with you for each day.
All huts provide cooking equipment (gas burners, pots and pans, cutlery etc) so you won't need to bring any of this.
A warm sleeping bag - A must as if you are in the dorms. The private rooms have bedding and sheets, so you don't necessarily need this.
Battery Packs - To ensure your phone and camera are fully charged as no huts have power.
Flip flops - Something that can really help if your boots get wet to make a trip to the outside toilets.
Suncream and Insect repellant - The Hump Ridge can be exposed on sections such as the beach at the start, so suncream is essential. Sandflies are particularly prevalent around Port Craig hut, even coming inside the kitchen area so best to cover up and bring a DEET based product or one of the great sand fly repellants you can buy on the ground in NZ.
Torch - As the toilets are separate from the huts, you'll need one. Preferably a head torch.
Water bottle/bladder pack - There are places between huts to fill up, but having plenty of water helps.
Guided or Self Guided?
In our opinion the track is very well sign posted and paths obvious, it would be hard to get lost. We always prefer walking independently, at our own pace. However, a guide can really bring an area to life and point out flora and fauna we would likely miss.
So whilst you don’t need a guide you might prefer this option, and the chance to walk with others if you are a solo hiker.
Guided walks start at $1,695 NZ per person.
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Would you take on a hike with a 1,000m climb on day one? Have you taken on the Hump Ridge Track? Let us know in the comments below!
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