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Doubting the Devil, Canterbury

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Doubting the DevilExperienced

Submitted by Tony Sharpe

Info Info
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Trail Information






Hanmer Springs

Back country - remote



Native bush
Open tussock/grasslands


Not Suitable (Slow)
5:00 (Moderate)
3:30 (Fast)



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This is one for the Southern Alps purists. A wonderful day out in the pristine Lewis Pass mountains.

Start on the Nina Valley Track which quickly crosses the Lewis River via swingbridge and crosses a small and sometimes boggy plateau for a couple of kms before descending down to the Nina River. Cross on the bridge and follow it all the way up to Nina Hut. Mostly runnable the whole way to the hut on classic kiwi bush trails, some steeper bits towards the hut.

Have a break at the well located Nina Hut (or even overnight here if you are taking it slower) and fuel up for a steep climb that follows up to the Devilskin Pass. It gets pretty steep as you near the bushline. Break out into the tussock and continue climbing up to the saddle and have a breather at the wonderfully named Devils Den Biv. If you are feeling extra adventurous you could scramble up the Devil's Rampart for a bit of extra should you have the itch (NB for experts only - scrambling and route finding skills required!)

From here follow the poles over the other side of the Devilskin Pass. Look for the large marker at the bushline and you'll be on the long sidling descent back down. Take your time here and look after your knees. After a lengthy descent you'll hit the valley floor, and cross the river to pick up the marked track down the Doubtful Valley. Travel down here is fast and enjoyable. At the end of the valley you'll be back into the Lewis, which you follow back to the highway on the Te Araroa Trail - a mix of river crossings and flats bashing out to Boyle Village. At the highway its another optional 5km up the SH7 if you haven't organised a pickup/ dropoff.

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Features of interest

Nina Hu,t Devils Den Biv, great scenery

Make Up of Run

Technical Single Track: 60%

Moderate Single Track: 20%

Easy Single Track: 20%

Route Data


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Overlapping Runs

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  • Access

    Start at the Nina ValleyTrackhead, across SH7 from Palmer Lodge

    There is parking next to Palmer Lodge at the Nina end, and at Boyle Village. You might want 2 cars or a shuttle if not wanting a 5km Highway run extra at the end. Don't leave valuables in your car if overnighting.

    61 km

    46 minutes



  • Staying Safe


    The trails are pretty well marked, but make sure you have a good topomap and GPS in case you stray


    Waterproof leggings, Thermal leggings, 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, Gaiters.

    There are plenty of pristine mountain streams to fill up in

    Expect snow in winter especially accross the tops. This is proper rugged mountain backcountry

    Don't go if the rivers are up or rising- you need river crossing skills in the Doubtful and Lewis.
    Check the forecast and don't go in bad weather
    Be prepared for delays and gear up in any season, you don't want to get stuck up here without the right kit
    Leave your intentions with someone and carry a PLB if you can get hold of one

  • Post run indulgence

    Hamner Springs- lots of options and the Pools

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    If you are interested in learning about sponsorship opportunities, please get in touch below:


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