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Lewis Tarns, Canterbury

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Lewis TarnsIntermediate - Experienced

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Trail Information






Boyle Village

Back country - remote

Out and Back


Native bush
Open tussock/grasslands
Open ridges/tops

Intermediate - Experienced

3:00 (Slow)
2:30 (Moderate)
2:00 (Fast)



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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.

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Features of interest

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

Make Up of Run

Untracked / Route only: 50%

Technical Single Track: 50%

Route Data


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Wild Explorers

I did it!
  • Access

    Trail head is across the road from the Lewis Pass summit carpark

    Room for a few parks at the Lewis Pass summit

    16 km

    13 minutes



  • Staying Safe


    Make navigation of this route super-easy by using the Capra app on your phone. View on Capra .

    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

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