Last Updated: 8th Jan 2024

Intermediate - Experienced

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I've done it Done

Hawdon-Edwards Classic

Arthurs Pass, Canterbury

Submitted by Mike Steel

Last Updated: 8th Jan 2024

Intermediate - Experienced

Save Trail Save

I've done it Done


Grunt Factor: 60 ?

Gnarl Factor: 75 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Back country - remote

Point to Point (one way)

Undulating, some big hills

Native bush


Open tussock/grasslands

Open ridges/tops

Run Makeup


Moderate Single Track

Technical Single Track

Untracked / Route only

Average Uphill Gradient: +9.3%

Average Downhill Gradient: -8.0%


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Estimated Times to Run







A popular 2-3 day tramping route that crosses the main divide (twice) albeit briefly, and is a rewarding run in fine weather, with plenty to see along the way: rivers, low alpine passes, tarns, mountains, bush and two huts. There's a 22km bike ride back to the car.

Have run this several times (in both directions), and it's debatable which way around is best. But the bike ride is best from the Edwards end, especially if it's north-westerly, so it's described that way here.

Drop a bike at/near Greyney's shelter, and drive to the Hawdon valley car park. A trail leads north from the car park through a short section of bush and down to cross the Hawdon. Follow the marked trail (which crosses the river twice more higher up) leading with little fuss to the new Hawdon hut. The trail then climbs steeply up through bush then scrub to a scenic viewpoint well above the Twin Fall Stream, and then drops down to it in a scrubby hanging valley and leads up to the tarn at Walker Pass (this section is fairly slow going, keep a eye out for markers). Once you leave Walker Pass you're on the West Coast following the upper Otehake River, but only for a short distance (1km at most) where you turn left up the long gently sloping side valley that leads up to Tarn Col. The views from the tarn near Tarn Col are superb, especially of Mt Franklin. To descend Tarn Col there's a steep scree descent just to the south of the Col; in the reverse direction climb steep scrub by the waterfall. This brings you down to Taruahuna Pass, a large expanse of broken rock that fell off nearby Falling Mountain, and which requires some care till you pick up the faint and runnable cairned trail. From here, begin the long and pleasant trip down the scenic Edwards Valley to the Edwards Hut. The track then continues on the left of the river before making a grunty traverse in the bush above the river. Once you've dropped back down and passed the Edwards River east branch it's all plain sailing and cruisy running out to the road.

tarns, mountains, different vegetation across the divide

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Safe parking, and camping, well off the main highway.

25 km

26 minutes




Take a map and compass. Be particularly careful to not miss the turn left up the side valley to Tarn Col (occasional trampers have done so and ended up in the Otehake wilderness area!).


Long-sleeved thermal top, Windproof jacket, Beanie/thermal headwear, Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival blanket, Cellphone, Compass, Map

Plenty of water in side streams the whole way.

Feasible in summer-autumn, and only when the rivers are not high. In winter/spring the passes can be snowed under and this can hang around into late spring. There are unavoidable numerous river crossings (in the unlikely event the final Mingha/Bealey river is uncrossable there is a rail bridge a short distance south).

Apart from the navigation issue above, take care on the steep descent from Tarn Col to Tarahuna Pass and in crossing the broken rock of the pass (i.e. probably best not to run this bit until you reach the faint trails, to avoid any risk of twisting your ankle in this remote spot).

Trail Legend

Matt Halverson

Matt Halverson

has completed Hawdon-Edwards Classic once in the last year.

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Trail Reviews

Great day out! Gorgeous country and some unique landscapes through Tarn Col and Taruahuna Pass. I was delighted to see kākāriki in the Hawdon and hear lots of kea in the Edwards.

No problems with snow or river levels today.

A few words of advice - bring an older pair of shoes, be prepared for wet feet, and if you're biking note that the last 4 k's are gravel!

Matt Halverson

October 21, 2023

Run on a clear day, mild NW wind.
Would be a problem with swollen streams/rivers, particularly the stream draining Tarn Col to the West (joining the East Branch of the Otehake), which even with minor raise in level would make slow going. Low as it was when we did it on 19 April 2022, it was boulder-hopping fun and good travel.

Great day out

Sean Crawford

April 22, 2022

A really stunning run. I prefer starting from the Edwards, as this gets the hard stuff out of the way, and then you finish with a fast, easy cruise down the Hawdon. I also prefer going up to Tarn Col (vary steep) rather than down.

Mike Steel’s times I find are always optimistic, so I suggest you add an hour onto each of the categories; ie 5.30 fast, 6.30-7hr intermediate, 9hr slow.

Daniel Parkinson

March 19, 2021

Tarn col- always pays to get the approach right, I have been left hanging once or twice here, literally hanging by the tussock. Great country

Tony Sharpe

December 31, 2018

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