Last Updated: 29th Mar 2024

Intermediate - Experienced

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I've done it Done

Maling Fowler Pass Loop

Hanmer Springs, Canterbury

Submitted by Stu Houston

Last Updated: 29th Mar 2024

Intermediate - Experienced

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I've done it Done

Grunt Factor: 57 ?

Gnarl Factor: 24 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Back country - remote


Undulating, some big hills

Dog Friendly

Native bush



Open farmlands

Open tussock/grasslands

Run Makeup


Gravel Road

Farm Road / 4WD Track

Easy Single Track

Moderate Single Track

Technical Single Track

Average Uphill Gradient: +5.0%

Average Downhill Gradient: -5.4%


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Estimated Times to Run







This loop can be run in either direction but this description is done anticlockwise from the Fowler Hut carpark, which is the start of the Fowler Pass track.

From the carpark either run or bike north on the Tophouse Road for 10 kilometers to the Maling Pass/St James Cycleway track start carpark. If you have biked this bit stash your bike amongst the few tussocks along the track and run west following the Cycleway to Maling Pass on a 4x4 road.

The road drops steeply from the pass down to the Waiau River Valley below with stunning views of the Spencer Mountains. Once at the river the track turns south to follow the river down to the Lake Guyon turn-off where you turn east and run to the lake and the Lake Guyon Hut.

The Hut is a tiny 4 bunker and the location is one word..Stunning! After the hut carry on along the Lakehore to the SE end of the lake. The track now climbs up a well marked trail that takes you up to a large open basin known as Stanley Vale and the old Historic Stanley Vale Hut, which is a popular place for horse trekkers.

From Stanley Vale you now turn east onto the Fowler Pass Track with multiple crossings of the Stanley River and Smyths Stream and a well-graded climb up to Fowlers Pass. From the Pass it is a lovely cruise down a nice gradient smooth track back to the carpark.

This is a great mix of open retired farm grasslands and beautiful river valleys and the stunning Lake Guyon.

If you know of any public toilets near the trail start or on the route, please login and then let us know so we can update this section.

There's plenty of room to park at the Fowler Hut and it's a reasonably isolated spot so pretty safe.

29 km

105 minutes




Tracks are well marked and well sign posted but take a map just in case.


Lightweight fleece top, Short-sleeved thermal top, Long-sleeved thermal top, Windproof jacket, Beanie/thermal headwear, Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival bag, Map

Generally there are plenty of streams evenly spaced the whole way round but during a dry spell there maybe less.

This area is notorious for brutally cold winters and scorching hot summers. It is open and exposed to the elements also you can get winter and Summer extremes on the same day so check the forecast and take good gear. Once you are in the Waiau Valley you are very remote so be well prepared.

Check river levels before you go and don't attempt after heavy rain as there are many river crossings of the Stanley River. Check the forecast before you go this is a very exposed track with two alpine passes. Stay away from area if there's extreme fire danger.

Trail Legend


Kieran Gillick

has completed Maling Fowler Pass Loop once in the last year.

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Trail Reviews

One of the best trail runs I've done in a while... also went clockwise from Fowlers Pass and out via Maling Pass. Fowlers Pass through to Lake Guyson was so beautiful and easily the highlight for me. Track is great and lots of different terrain/scenery. The track along the Waiau River was lovely too. From the base of Maling Pass its a 4wd track and had a few vehicles come past - slightly less interesting. Also missed out the main road 10k - too far for me at this stage! Would highly recommend 😊.

Laura Richards

March 27, 2022

A great day out-I actually did the loop clockwise from Fowlers purely as there were a lot of vehicles parked there and none at the Maling pass end - I stashed my bike safely in the tussock off the trail and locked it to a fence. You definitely don't want to run the last 10k on the road, it would be miserable. Pros and cons to doing it either way -anti clockwise as described you have an easier ascent of Maling but you have the slower tracks late in the day, clockwise you get the harder trails done first and a nice approach to Guyon but a sting in the tail on the Maling ascent

Simon Huntley

March 21, 2022

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