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The Southern Pinnacles , Canterbury

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The Southern Pinnacles Intermediate - Experienced

Submitted by Tony Sharpe

Info Info
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Trail Information







Back country - remote

Out and Back

Very hilly

Native bush
Open tussock/grasslands

Intermediate - Experienced

6:00 (Slow)
4:30 (Moderate)
3:00 (Fast)



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This is an out and back up to the popular rock climbing site above Pinnacles Hut. This is pretty technical country to run in, but pretty straight forward for tramping. It's a great introduction to the proper South Island Backcountry

Head out from the carpark and cross the Bowyer Stream bridge and stretch your legs on an initial short flat section before things rapidly turn uphill, and steeply so as you spend a good half hour (at least) grovelling up Duke Knob. There won't be many people who can run the whole way up here, so relax and enjoy the walk

As the trail tops out onto Duke Knob there is a rock outcrop - make sure you stop here and take in the great views of both where you are heading, but also of the NE Ridgeline of Mt Somers. You can really make out its ancient volcanic form from here.

From Duke Knob there is a short sharp descent to pick up Bowyer Stream again. The trail dives in and out of the bush as it staggers up the true left of the stream (some great swimming holes too), until you eventually reach a substantial swingbridge. Cross this - it's a potential lifesaver in flood conditions. Past the bridge you head into the bush and begin climbing again. Sometimes steadily, but occasionally steeply and with the aid of fix chains to help haul you up steep rocky sections. There's an incredible overhanging waterfall to go under as well - you can stay dry, but its a great cool down spot if its a hot day. As things head further up valley there's a steeper section again that tops out to another rock outcrop and gives you a great view of the Pinnacles and surrounding volcanic cliff faces. You'll spot the hut and quickly dash down, round and up to reach the front door.

To reach the Pinnacles proper pick up the unmarked but obvious trail that carries on past the loo behind the hut. Ten minutes or so of steep up will lead to the Pinnacles, which are well worth an explore. This location affords wonderful views of Mt Winterslow and out across the plains to Banks Peninsula on a good day. A place to linger, and if you are into rock climbing bring a rope as there's heaps of routes and fixed anchor points.

If you have time overnighting in the hut is great as the sun sets the plains and hills of Banks Peninsula light up and give a great show. You can get hut tickets at the Staveley Store

The route out is to retrace your steps, although options abound if carrying on around the mountain or up and over the summit - see the Trail Directory for these routes.

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Features of interest

Pristine beech forest
Volcanic rock formations
Great technical trails

Make Up of Run

Technical Single Track: 90%

Moderate Single Track: 5%

Easy Single Track: 5%

Route Data


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Overlapping Runs

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  • Access

    At the End of Flynns Road, a few km's up from Staveley Village

    DOC carpark at track end. Note if overnighting, don't leave valuables in the car as the scumbags occasionally visit here

    29 km

    25 minutes



  • Staying Safe


    Track is well marked and formed

    Very patchy.

    Thermal leggings, Lightweight fleece top, Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Gloves, Beanie/thermal headwear, Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival blanket, Cellphone, Map, Headtorch and spare batteries, Gaiters.

    Water abounds all over the place, in the river or at Pinnacles Hut

    It's alpine around here so pack gear according to the season and forecast.

    Its surprisingly rugged country when you get in here, make sure you have a first aid kit in case you take a slide. Expect snow on the ground at times from Autumn to Spring and even very occasionally in summer

  • Post run indulgence

    Panthers Rock Pub
    Feed and a pint

    Stavely Store
    Get your supplies and or hut tickets here

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