Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023

Intermediate - Experienced

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Coleridge to Bealey Beer Run

Lake Coleridge Village, Canterbury

Submitted by Tony Sharpe

Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023

Intermediate - Experienced

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I've done it Done


Grunt Factor: 62 ?

Gnarl Factor: 48 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Back country - remote

Point to Point (one way)

Undulating, some big hills

Native bush

Plantation/exotic forest


Open farmlands

Open tussock/grasslands

Open ridges/tops

Run Makeup


Sealed Road

Farm Road / 4WD Track

Moderate Single Track

Technical Single Track

Untracked / Route only

Average Uphill Gradient: +4.9%

Average Downhill Gradient: -6.2%


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Estimated Times to Run







Description is north bound on Te Araroa Trail from the head of Lake Coleridge to the Pub, taking in the Harper Valley Track and the Lagoon Saddle Track. Begin by picking up the trail markers and poles beside the Harper River. The first 6-7 km are easy trails and farm tracks up the north bank (True Right) of the Harper, until you reach the confluence with the Avoca River. The best ford for the Avoca is a bit upstream but in low flows you should be able to find multiple crossing points without too much drama. If its flooding you shouldn't be there at all, so check river levels/ rainfalls first.

Once across the Avoca head out back towards the marked farm tracks beside the Harper, still on the true right bank. Take care to avoid the large swampy area which is well marked on the topomap. The author failed and lost half an hour of grovelling instead! A few more km's upstream you'll be ushered across the Harper River by marker poles and onto the true left. Shortly up from here you'll be treated to the amazing views up to the Harper River Pinnacles. Beyond the pinnacles the trail weaves back and forth across the river, with numerous crossings.

Eventually the valley begins to narrow and you near the signposted turnoff to Hamilton Hut. Ignore the sign unless you want to bag the hut, instead stay in the river to streambash another few hundred meters until you notice a swingbridge overhead. Hop out of the river and pick up the track now on the true right heading upstream. Running becomes more technical and undulating from here, as the trail winds its way over a few spurs and up valley. After several forested lumps and bumps you'll reach the character hut known as West Harper Hut, a true gem, a piece of NZ backcountry history.Beyond here the going gets rougher as the upper Harper valley begins to close in.

Make sure you pay attention at river forks- take car to find cairns and markers in the river bed as it would be possible to take a wrong turn. Eventually the river section closes in further and the trail heads up into the bush on a steep section of spur. From here its a mix of steady climbing and small stream crossings until you reach a junction to Lagoon Shelter near the Lagoon Saddle bushline. One last burst of uphill and your hit the high point and round the corner to stunning sweeping views of the upper Waimakariri Basin and Arthurs Pass National Park Descending to Cora Lynn can be a bit muddy at times for the first couple of km's but this settles down when you eventually pick up the forest and complete the descent. Look out for stunning displays of native mistletoe in the lower sections around Xmas. Unless your pick up is the trailhead you now have 4-km of road bashing down to the main highway and round to the Bealey Pub to grab a well earned beer. Watch out for traffice on the main road though.

Te Araroa Trail, Harper River, Pinnacles, Lagoon Saddle

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You'll need a drop off and pick up for this one, support drivers allow about 1 to 1.5 hours for the drive round from end to end

33 km

103 minutes




There are several places where there isn't really a trail in the Harper, but it is pretty well marked. Take care to pick up marked when passing river confluences


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, Gaiters

Lots of river crossings, plenty of water

Winter/ spring can be snowy. Take care to check river conditions and forecasts before setting out and tell someone (probably your driver) when and where you are heading

Multiple river crossings
Adverse weather has potential to make areas impassable when flooding or heavy snow
Avalanche risk in Winter/ early spring in some area
Navigation needed to be good in some areas

Beer and chips at the Bealey pub will taste pretty good

You and Coleridge to Bealey Beer Run

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Trail Reviews

Thanks Tony. I'd been looking at this section of the TA, but wasn't sure if it was possible to get through in a day. We ran it in March, SOBO, which meant we got the hills out of the way nice and early. We were at bit clagged in at the start, so missed the views shown in your photos. Still a pretty awesome trail and worth the trip down from Akl.

Matt Rowbotham

July 14, 2019

Something for everyone here, its a great through route half is nice runnable river flats and half is more technical trails and hills. Magic views and great tasting beer at the pub to finish with your supporting drivers

Tony Sharpe

February 5, 2019

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