Island Hills Station Walking Track

 

Self-guided, private tramping trail on a working sheep, cattle and honey farm with it’s own protected conservation reserve.

 

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Experience the high country

By the time you’ve finished this Island Hills Station adventure you will feel like you have experienced high country life and learnt a little about the history. You will have met a few farm animals, bumped into some wild creatures and made friends with the native birds. You will have felt the spongy moss under your feet and maybe even hugged a few trees as you witnessed the Mandamus Preservation Reserve project in action where the property has set aside vast areas of land for forest regeneration, pest control and in turn wildlife restoration.

Self-Guided Walking Track
Hurunui High Country Walking
Private Walking Track
Pack Transport Walking Track

Itinerary

2 or 3 day options

This self-guided private tramping trail covers a distance of approximately 30km utilised for 2 0r 3 day walks and although situated amidst high mountains, the placement of the track has meant that it is suitable for anyone with a reasonable level of fitness and tramping ability. The three day walk is the most popular with two day options for those with less time and a little more fitness.

Evening 1 The Cookhouse Accommodation

OVERNIGHT 1

Evening arrival at Island Hills

You will arrive at the Cookhouse on the evening before your first day on the trail. Arrival times from 5:30pm onward, but no later than 9pm. The private car parking area is safe and secure so you can relax and immerse yourself into uninterrupted high country life, with no cell or internet reception allowing time to explore the relics of history.

The farm museum provides you with a sure memory of your childhood and a glimpse into high country station life many years ago.

Evening Meal

You are welcome to use the fully serviced kitchen, electric oven, microwave, BBQ and dining facilities to prepare your own meals. Or for this first evening you may like to have dinner along the way and we highly recommend the nearby historic Hurunui Hotel.

Another option is to book a Farm 4WD Tour/Guided Walk plus BBQ meal for the evening of your arrival. Available for arrival prior to 6:30pm. We can offer a fun informative guided farm tour, either in a 4 wheel drive or on foot followed by a home cooked BBQ style meal with vegetarian and gluten free options. BYO drinks. Please inform of any special dietary requirements well in advance. $65 per person.

DAY 1

Track start to Valley Camp

11km, 4-6 hours

The track operator will meet you at the Cookhouse by 8:30am to welcome you to the property and conduct a safety briefing. The track operator will then provide a 20 minute 4 wheel drive farm tour taking you to the entry point of the walking track.

From here you’ll leave your packs behind for transport to the next accommodation and only carry your day packs with lunches, water bottles and extra clothing for safety.

Track Start Valley Camp
Valley Camp Lodge Day 1 Overnight

OVERNIGHT 2

Valley Camp

The Valley Camp Hut was built for pest control and mustering and now gives you the chance to spend your second evening in the heart of the high country. The Valley Camp is a large open plan lodge, with interior curtains for added privacy and a fully equipped kitchen, gas cooking facilities, BBQ, hot shower and a small gas fridge/freezer for perishable items.

Have your packs ready for transport by 10:00am. You can expect your packs to arrive at the next night’s accommodation by 1pm.

DAY 2

Valley Camp to Bush Hut

9km, 4-6 hours

The second day follows the foothills through belts of native manuka, regenerating beech forest and sub-alpine ridges.

There are sections of uphill and downhill as the track climbs and descends over the spurs for 9km to your final night at the Bush Hut. Or for walkers on the 2 day package, take a break here for lunch before carrying on from Bush Hut to the Cookhouse.

Valley Camp Bush Hut
Bush Hut Day 2 Overnight

OVERNIGHT 3

Bush Hut

Bush Hut is in a wonderful forest setting and a real step back in time. Situated in the middle of one of the biggest QEII conservation covenants in the country. Set in native bush forest, the Bush Hut built in 1932 has all the characteristics of early pioneering times with a few modern facilities such as gas cookers, BBQ, small fridge/freezer and a hot shower. It has bunks and semi-permanent tents situated behind the hut with amazing views of the mountains.

Have your packs ready for transport by 11:00am. You can expect your packs to arrive back to the Cookhouse by 1pm.

DAY 3

Bush Hut to Cookhouse

9.5km, 3-4 hours

This is the final leg of the walking track. You’ll be walking back from the forest and through the open farmland. You’ll see some outstanding views regardless of the weather. You’ll arrive back to your parked cars where you can rest and refresh yourselves at your leisure. Your packs should arrive by 1pm. When you’re ready you can sign out, leave the station and make your way home.

Bush Hut to Cookhouse
Dogs on Island Hills Station walking track

Dogs

Dogs are welcome on the track, but they must meet stringent criteria and controls so as not to upset other track and hut users, or disturb farm animals and wild life. Permission to bring a dog must be pre-organised with the track ranger at least one week prior to arrival at the property.

What to bring

We provide pack transfers each day to your next accommodation destination and back to the car park on your final day. We are limited to one pack of 20kg or less per person and one chilli-bin per group. You need to bring all of your food, but there is no need to bring any cooking or dining equipment.

Essential Items

  • Rain jacket
  • Day pack
  • Basic First Aid Kit (especially sticky plaster for blisters)
  • Medical treatments. For example, there are bee hives present on the farm. Any walkers with bee sting allergies should carry appropriate medications
  • Water bottle (or bladder)
  • Warm sleeping bag
  • Warm clothes (wool or polypropylene)
  • Appropriate footwear (we strongly recommend hiking boots, well broken in)
  • We recommend gaiters or putties to cover the top of your boots
  • We recommend that people bring walking poles or a hill stick for added stability over uneven ground
  • Torch/flash light/head lamp (with good, fully charged batteries)
  • Large hiking pack (flooding or a breakdown may prevent cartage on rare occasions)
  • Clothing: You will need at least one set of clothes to walk in and another to change into at night. Drying facilities are available for small amounts of wet clothes at each hut.
    • Socks: (wool/polypropylene) two pairs
    • Shorts: (cotton/nylon)
    • Shirt: (wool/polypropylene)
    • Long johns or trousers: (wool/polypropylene)
    • Jersey or jacket: (wool/polar fleece)
    • Undershirts/T-shirt: (wool/polypropylene)
    • Gloves: (wool/polypropylene)
  • Towel, soap and toiletries
  • Insect repellent
Pack Transport
Pack and/or gear transport is included, but limited to 1 pack of 20 kg or less per person and 1 chilli-bin per group. We take the utmost care with your belongings, however you need to pack breakables well and liquids in sealed containers as the access roads are bumpy and items will move about.

You can expect your gear to be at the accommodation facilities before noon, but it does not arrive back to the Cook House car parking area until 1:00pm on the last day.

You may be required to carry your pack/gear a small distance in some extreme and rare circumstances such as an evacuation due to flooding or other acts of nature.

Fitness, distance and difficulty

A medium level of fitness and agility is required to walk the Island Hills Station Track. The majority of the track is well graded, but there are a few challenging short ascents and descents, plus uneven surfaces and narrow sections in parts. The 3 day tramp allows you to take your time, while the 2 day version is for those with a little less time and a little more fitness.

Throughout the season there will be some cold, rainy and some extremely hot conditions so please ensure you and your group are prepared for all weather, as conditions may be very changeable.

We provide a pack/gear carrying service as it makes your walk a lot safer, easier and more enjoyable. You will only need to carry a day pack.

The track is not recommended for young children.

The track covers almost 30km over 2-3 days. The season is from October until mid March and is limited to 10 per group.

Day 1 distance 11km (approx 4-6 hours)

Difficulty: an easy wide trail to start, leading into some areas of moderate to difficult narrow trail with rough uneven surfaces. Care with with footing must be taken.

After the 8:30am departure from the Cook House accommodation and car park you will be delivered to the start point of the walking trail via a 20 minute 4 wheel drive farm tour. The trail initially follows the flat terraces above the banks of the meandering Mandamus river along stock and 4 wheel drive access tracks. After the rockwall foot bridge the track continues into native forest with a few ups and downs above the river gorges, eventually climbing out into open grassy knolls with open views into the big mountain surroundings. You will then follow a historic pack track down into the Organ River to the Valley Camp Huts. For those that want to keep it really cruisy on the first day there are two early exit points to the Valley Camp Huts.

Day 2 distance 9km (approx 4-6 hours)

Difficulty: expect rough, uneven ground. Care with footing must be taken.

The second day follows the foothills through belts of native manuka, regenerating beech forest and sub-alpine ridges. There are sections of uphill and down hill as the track climbs and descends over the spurs for 9km to your final night at the Bush Hut.

Day 3 distance 9.5km (approx 3-4 hours)

Difficulty: mainly easy walking.

Day three is a very enjoyable easy walk that covers 9.5km through native bush and over high country farmland. You should arrive back at your parked vehicle at the Cook House around lunch time and expect to see your packs arriving by 1pm.

For those choosing the two day walk, days two and three are combined, making for an 18.5km hike over 7-9 hours.

Safety
Any person with a reasonable level of fitness can walk the Hurunui High Country Track. However, the track experience is not recommended for young children.

Throughout the season there will be some cold, rainy and some extremely hot conditions so please ensure you and your group are prepared for all weather, as conditions may be very changeable.

We provide a pack/gear carrying service so you will only need to carry a day pack.

There are UHF radios in the isolated huts, follow the instructions to connect directly to the track ranger.

If a person in the group becomes ill or injured to the point where they can no longer walk, please administer first aid and make sure the casualty is warm and comfortable, take note of the location of the patient on the track using the provided map zones, note the type of injury/illness and any medical history, leave at least one caregiver with the casualty and go to the closest hut to radio the information through to the track ranger.

The track ranger will take over the response from here.

There are honey bee hives present on the farm for most of the walking track season, if any walkers have bee sting allergies please carry appropriate medication to treat.

Covid-19 Response

Follow Ministry of Health COVID-19 guidelines:

  • If you’re sick or unwell, stay at home
  • If you have cold or flu symptoms, call your doctor or Healthline and follow their testing advice
Weather
The weather in the high country can change very quickly so you must carry all the appropriate gear in your day pack for both cold and hot conditions.

The Island Hills Station Track may have very cold conditions at any time, so be prepared.

Check the weather forecast before you leave so you know what to expect during your walk.

If there is extreme weather causing flooding, the Island Hills Station Track may have to be evacuated.

Food and Water

YOU ONLY NEED TO BRING YOUR FOOD

All kitchens are fully equipped with: Gas cooker, fridge, cutlery, plates, pots, pans, coffee plungers, tea towels, items for washing up and lots more. The Cook House on the first night also has an oven.

There is BBQ’s at each night’s accommodation.

Food
We recommend that you bring food that does not perish quickly or leak en-route.

Water
It is necessary to carry some water. To avoid dehydration we recommend drinking regularly while walking. There is clean drinking water at each hut and some places along the track for refilling your drink bottle, however we advise that only hut supplies are tested.

Regular testing is not carried out. If you wish to treat water, either boil it for five minutes, filter or chemically treat it.

Island Hills Station
5.0
Based on 13 reviews
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Chris Burnell
Chris Burnell
21:45 04 Feb 22
Wonderful experience doing the 3 day Island Hills Station walking track. Shaun is an excellent host. The scenery is... stunning and varied. Would highly recommend the Walking Track experience.read more
Michael Markert
Michael Markert
23:30 13 Jan 22
What an amazing place and host! We made the three day walk, Shaun is a super host going the extra mile. Great huts and... equipment, and we loved the hot showers.read more
Karne Steel
Karne Steel
04:04 08 Jan 22
Let me start by saying that Shaun was an absolutely amazing host.6 of us completed the 3 day walk option (which... includes a nights accommodation before you start walking), I hadn't been on a multi-day walk before and I found it to be the right difficulty for me to manage after having an ACL repair 9 months prior. With the 2 day option you may miss out on some of the charming accommodation that the private bush/farm offers.The guide (Shaun), who briefs you ahead of the walk and checks in daily, does a great job at preparing the locations between guests and taking the edge off the walk with some good jokes.The accommodation and toilet facilities were great considering the remote location, especially the showers.Many thanks for a great new years experience.read more
Karin Klebert
Karin Klebert
05:04 03 Jan 22
What a special treasure we discovered here! Island Hills Station is how I see future oriented farms thriving.Thank... you all involved for making this such an amazing time for us.read more
Victor Buckwalter
Victor Buckwalter
03:32 07 Dec 21
Loved every aspect of this walk. Superb!
Kelly Gilchrist
Kelly Gilchrist
02:02 06 Nov 21
We did the BYO horse trek over two days and really enjoyed it! Farm tracks, forest tracks, goat tracks, rolling... paddocks, river crossings, QEII Conservation area and a steep climb!The accommodation is fantastic. Hot shower and a flushing toilet in the middle of nowhere was an unexpected luxury! Just so happened we had the best hut mates too, so that was great. Got to say the Old Valley Hut was a favourite.Very much enjoyed the bubbles, salmon and cheese on arrival at Valley Camp after a long day in the saddle.Thanks for making this accessible to horse and rider, much appreciated and I hope this venture works out for you.read more
Donna Chapman
Donna Chapman
23:51 03 Nov 21
We did the 3 day walk. If you are reading this and pondering whether to do the tramp or not...just do it!! Comfortable... accommodation, best showers in the south island, stunning and varied scenery, peace and quiet from the rat race of life, wonderful hosts and perfect weather. An amazing experience 😀read more
Wendy Newman
Wendy Newman
07:09 12 Oct 21
Just got back from a three day trek, what a fantastic resource on our doorstep. Shaun does a great job maintaining the... tracks and stocking the huts, like to thank our fellow trampers and Doug the dog for their company.read more
Melissa Jessen
Melissa Jessen
08:27 21 May 21
Had an amazing guided hunting trip with Shaun, in the breath taking island hills. Shot my 1st south island red deer and... red stag. Shaun is a great guide, making you feel comfortable whether you are a beginner or seasoned hunter 👌 definitely want to go back again. A must do!read more
Kate Daellenbach
Kate Daellenbach
02:05 30 Jan 21
Beautiful place and a lovely walk. We did the two-day version, when our original tramping plans were scuttled by... shocking weather. They were able to accomodate us last minute. It still felt like a tramp - some nice little hills in there to get the heart rate up. Stunning, stunning views, some company in the form of cows (all very chilled out), and friendly informative hosts in Shaun and Hayley. Thank you Shaun and Hayley, and to the Shand family for sharing their bit of paradise. (PS. When you do this walk, plan to have a shower at the Valley Lodge!).read more
Julie Nixon
Julie Nixon
03:00 04 Jan 21
Thoroughly enjoyed our recent three day trek. Some good challenges along a well designed track that saw us enjoy... wonderful views along the way. Huts were a welcome sight at the end of each day. Great amenities and well stocked. Loved the pack cartage each day and walking with a day pack. Very well organised and Shaun makes you feel at ease out on the trail knowing there’s daily check ins at the huts and weather forecasts each night. Recommended to those wanting to visit our great outdoors and away from busy crowded tracks.read more
Ray Fabish
Ray Fabish
05:34 23 Nov 20
We had a fantastic time. Shaun was professional, friendly, and faultless in the way he set us and the experience up.... The huts and showers have to be experienced to be believed. Would highly recommended to anyone who has a medium or better fitness levelread more
Christine Gabrielle
Christine Gabrielle
10:58 28 Oct 20
Highly recommend this guided trip-Kiwi value non-stop and memories forever.! You will learn things you did not know... about the NZ bush and wildlife and have such a better experience of the land!! Just carry a daypack and enjoy every minute. Super clean historic huts, toilets, showers (hot at every stop!!) Really well-organized..Plus awesome meals, wildfoods, treats and surprises-don't miss out! This one is a MUST DO even for experienced trampers-over gorgeous country with the Best Guide Ever (you can find the track yourself but you will miss half the experience without Shaun Monk with you!)--book it- you will NOT regret it. Plus if you're into hunting, teaching your kids to hunt-he is your man. Super thumbs up all around!???‍????????⛰???‍♂️read more
Dave & Lisa Anderson
Dave & Lisa Anderson
21:38 09 Oct 20
Had a wonderful trip during the school holidays with the children (aged 9 and 10). Fantastic track, great way to see... our own back yard. Beautiful native bush, birds, and wildlife. Make sure you take the time to check out the glowworms and have a go at catching some pests (the children were stoked to catch a possum). Totally recommend.read more
Johannes Schulz
Johannes Schulz
09:24 28 Jun 20
Well, how to even start?This place resembles a tranquil and simultaneously wild area. Mountains, Manuka trees, rivers... - even mighty stags can be spotted. Beside the natural beauty of the Island Hills Station area, the hospitality and service of the owners leave nothing to be desired. Here I had my fist hunting experiences, extended walks through a natural paradise and a cozy resting place in the lonely huts that are provided.I can only recommend this place for anyone who seeks a close up encounter with New Zealand, its people and natural beauty, while having an andventurous blast for a lifetime.read more
Victoria Alexander
Victoria Alexander
04:49 23 Jun 20
What a way to rejuvenate! Island Hills truly has it all; well-equipped comfortable huts, diverse and interesting... walking options for every level of fitness and knowledgeable, enthusiastic, down-to-earth hosts. An adventure not to be missed.read more
Esther Riess
Esther Riess
01:01 22 May 20
You can truly call this place a piece of paradise! This is the first place in NZ I felt very sad to leave behind. Had... my first hunting experience and the walking tracks are something else! It’s a once in a lifetime experience. If cabins, outdoor wood heated baths under stars, mountains and hunting sound intriguing. Don’t miss out!read more
Arian Gaedke
Arian Gaedke
01:31 03 Mar 20
First hunt in New ZealandI come from Germany, hunting in Germany and New Zealand is very different. It was a great... challenge to hike and hunt in the mountains.It was very interesting to learn so many new things about nautur in New Zealand. Shaun taught me a lot of great tips for camping and survival in the bush or in the mountains.The trip was an exciting new experience for me.read more
Haley Lloyd
Haley Lloyd
08:31 27 Nov 19
Such a beautiful place and the Bush Hut was amazing. The hosts were very down to earth and knowledgeable. A real off... grid kiwi back country experience.read more
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Walking Track Prices

A start date is all that’s required to secure a reservation. To browse available start dates on a calendar click Book Now.
The tramping season runs from the second week in October through to mid-March, clicking Book Now will display the availability calendar with no obligation to book.  The booking date refers to the evening of arrival prior to the first day of walking.

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Our Address

Island Hills, 1612 Tekoa Road, Culverden 7392

Contact Us

TEL: 0224 640 140
E-MAIL: shaun@islandhillsstation.com

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