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The James Hundy Epic, Canterbury

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The James Hundy EpicVery Experienced

Submitted by Tony Sharpe

Info Info

Trail Information






Hanmer Springs

Back country - remote


Undulating, some big hills

Native bush
Open farmlands
Open tussock/grasslands
Open ridges/tops

Very Experienced

20:00 (Slow)
15:00 (Moderate)
11:00 (Fast)



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This is the course used for "The James 100km" race. It's massive. It's epic. And it's amazing.

You can split this into two days of 50km each by overnighting at Lake Guyon hut, small but pretty and open to all comers.

Start on the Fowlers pass trail from Fowlers Hut half way up to lake Tennyson on the road out of Jacks Pass. The track climbs steadily without too much difficulty to gain Fowlers Pass in the first 30-40 minutes. Wonderful views here, and actually the highpoint of the trip.

From Fowlers its a moderately technical descent into Smyth Stream, which you then follow down into the Stanley River. Great rugged scenery surrounds as you settle into St James Station proper. There's a number of river crossings as you descend the valley, so expect wet feet.

As you break out into the wide expanse of the upper Stanley turn north across low sloping grassy flats and head over the rise to one of the scenic highlights of the whole trail - the view of Lake Guyon and the mountains of the main divide beckoning beyond the Waiau River. A quick trot down to the Lake shore and you'll pick up a farm track which skirts the north side of the lake. Half way along you'll pass Lake Guyon Hut.

Carry on past the lake outlet and follow the Moki Track down to the Waiau River. You'll need to ford the river here - if there's been recent heavy rain and the river is up do not attempt - normally it's a nice wide knee deep wade, but in flood this would prove impassable. Once safely across shake the gravel out of your shoes, and pick up the Te Araroa Trail as it follows easy flats southbound down to the Ada Valley. The trail then skirts up into the Ada until you have a view of the Christopher Hut in the distance on the St James Walkway. Loop back around following mountainbike trails/ farm tracks and cross the Ada and head further south to the Henry River crossing. This country is just massive, there is so much space and views forever.

Pick up the St James Mountainbike trail and cross the Waiau again on the footbridge over a small gorge. A short section of up follows as the cycle trail swings back around to the north and undulates its way all the way back up the Waiau, where you'll retrace your steps back to Lake Guyon. Distance wise this is the half way point and you may choose to overnight here and save the harder 50km for tomorrow.

Beyond Lake Guyon follow the marked trails up over the hill and into the Stanley. Pass Stanley Vale Hut and settle into approx 17km down the Stanley River track, which is well marked and often crosses the river. There's a few lumps and bumps in this more rugged and enclosed valley until you climb up the marked trail onto the impressive high tableland known as "The Racecourse". Make sure you fill up with plenty of water as you leave the Stanley, it's a fairly long arid haul across the Racecourse and beyond.

The marked trail is a less formed as you head off the southern end and sidles around the snout of the range and gives massively impressive views of the Waiau River as it heads into rougher country out towards Lewis Pass. Eventually descend onto Charlies Saddle and pick up the farm track/ cycleway that follows the Edwards Valley. Pass Scotties hut and carry on crossing the river a few times to pick up the junction with Peters Pass track.

A quick climb up Bull Gully will gain Peters Pass and a nice wide benched trail will return you to the Tennyson Rd at St James Homestead. If you are wanting to complete the full 104km, there's a sting in the tail - you'll need to head out up the road a few km's until you pick up the Peters Valley Track which will have you climb the same hill again, only to drop steeply to Bull Gully and a third ascent of the same hill. You'll now be familiar with the final 6km as you cruise/ hobble/ crawl out to the finish at St James Homestead. If you are smart you'll have a pick up/ car waiting here to avoid a very long road run back to Fowlers where you started - those are bonus km's you really don't want!

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Features of interest

Explore the amazing St James Station - now retired farmland in the full ownership of the Crown. Lakes, rivers, mountains and some amazing remote countryside

This is for the Ultra Nuts!

Make Up of Run

Technical Single Track: 25%

Moderate Single Track: 30%

Easy Single Track: 20%

Farm Road / 4WD Track: 20%

Gravel Road: 5%

Route Data


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Wild Explorers

I did it!
  • Access

    Start at Fowlers Hut on the road into Lake Tennyson

    Room for parking around the Hut

    36 km

    88 minutes



  • Staying Safe


    Take a map, GPS and don't miss any turnoffs!


    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, Map, Headtorch and spare batteries, Gaiters.

    Lots of pristine rivers to drink from. Suggest a 2 litre bladder as the section across the Racecourse is a fairly long and dry way on a hot day

    Can be scorching hot in summer, snow in winter.

    Avalanche Paths in winter/ spring. Avoid in times of high risk.
    Avoid in heavy rain- too many unfordable rivers in floods.

    Remote country, take plenty of gear and consider overnighting at Guyon to break it up

  • Post run indulgence

    Hanmer Springs Hotpools!

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