Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023


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Doubting the Devil

Hanmer Springs, Canterbury

Submitted by Tony Sharpe

Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023


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I've done it Done


Grunt Factor: 48 ?

Gnarl Factor: 59 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Back country - remote



Native bush


Open tussock/grasslands

Run Makeup


Easy Single Track

Moderate Single Track

Technical Single Track

Average Uphill Gradient: +6.5%

Average Downhill Gradient: -7.5%


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Estimated Times to Run

Not suitable






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.

Nina Hu,t Devils Den Biv, great scenery

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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




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

Hamner Springs- lots of options and the Pools

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Trail Reviews

Had a crack at this loop. It's winter, not a great idea. Beautiful day, plenty of snow on the saddle but the trail from Devilskin saddle to Doubtful hut was severely overgrown, so much so that we turned back. Great countryside much of the trail is not easily runnable.

Tim Parkin

July 31, 2023

A great run, hike, and climb in fine weather. Plenty to keep you motivated and a full body workout all day long. It's a long day out, so take the gear, food and company required to be happy. If the weather turns, be prepared to navigate in the clag.

Christian Couper

April 11, 2022

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Overlapping Trails

These overlap with this trail to some degree. You may wish to combine them but please note that to qualify for FKTs on these runs you should record a separate activity for each.

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