Last Updated: 8th Mar 2024

Intermediate - Experienced

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I've done it Done

Lewis Tarns

Last Updated: 8th Mar 2024

Intermediate - Experienced

Save Trail Save

I've done it Done


Grunt Factor: 41 ?

Gnarl Factor: 99 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Back country - remote

Out and Back


Native bush

Open tussock/grasslands

Open ridges/tops

Run Makeup


Technical Single Track

Untracked / Route only

Average Uphill Gradient: +18.2%

Average Downhill Gradient: -18.2%


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Estimated Times to Run







The Lewis Tops are nice and accessible from the road and afford spectacular views, along with a number of longer fastpacking/ tramping options beyond. This is real Southern Alps mountain country, and the views are highly rewarding.

Park up at the Lewis Pass summit and lace up, having packed all your warm storm gear just in case. Cross the road and pick up the trail head as it initially climbs gently but soon launches into the steep beech forest clad ascent. It's a direct ascent to the bushline where you can catch your breath and soak up the views out to the Spenser mountains and all around the Lewis Pass area.

From the bushline the route is unmarked across a broad and highly enjoyable ridgeline. You will pass numerous tarns and vantage points for sightseeing. Head along as far as you feel like travelling, the mapped route takes you to Point 1580. At this point turn around and retrace your steps back to Lewis Pass via the route you came in on.

Beyond point 1580 lies more challenging terrain around the aptly names Mt Technical, and beyond to Brass Monkey country, which you would need strong route-finding skills for and probably an overnight kit to sleep over somewhere. Take care if the weather clags out - a map and compass and GPX download is pretty essential in such conditions up the top. But just to the bushline is well marked and straightforward to follow.

Views of the Lewis Tops and Spenser Mountain Spectacular tops and tarn views

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Room for a few parks at the Lewis Pass summit

16 km

13 minutes




Be prepared and equipped for inclement weather- it changes fast up here. Take a good map and GPX


Waterproof leggings, Thermal leggings, Lightweight fleece top, Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Windproof jacket, Gloves, Beanie/thermal headwear, Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival bag, Cellphone, Compass, Map, Headtorch and spare batteries, Crampons / microspikes (for winter conditions), Gaiters

Fill up before you start

Standard Southern Alps seasons - expect snow in winter and occasionally at other times of the year. the tops are exposed to all wind directions.

Standard Southern Alps mountain hazards - rapid weather changes and visibility issues

Trail Legend


Melissa McArtney

has completed Lewis Tarns once in the last year.

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Trail Reviews

Serious bang for your buck with this one! I decided I would walk up to the bush line on tired legs. However, I couldn’t stop myself going further! I reached the end of the poled route and I just had to keep going! It was a glorious, sunny day, with not a breath of wind. The silence was the most magnificent thing I’ve ever experienced. I felt as though I was the only one on the planet and that I was in the best place on it! The unrivalled 360° views were the cherry on top of the cake!

Lauren Mai Anderson

March 18, 2022

I've only gone to just past the bushline for the spectacular views but its a great trail. My knees were already toast so I didn't even try running it but you'd have to be pretty nimble and part goat to even try. Once you get past the 1st km you start to leave the highway noise behind and enjoy the birdsong. I was hoping to bag a kokaho and the $10000 reward to boot but no such luck.

Rebecca Sunderland

January 7, 2021

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