Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023

Intermediate - Experienced

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I've done it Done

The Southern Pinnacles

Methven, Canterbury

Submitted by Tony Sharpe

Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023

Intermediate - Experienced

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I've done it Done


Grunt Factor: 39 ?

Gnarl Factor: 85 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Back country - remote

Out and Back

Very hilly

Native bush


Open tussock/grasslands


Run Makeup


Easy Single Track

Moderate Single Track

Technical Single Track

Average Uphill Gradient: +18.0%

Average Downhill Gradient: -18.0%


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Estimated Times to Run







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.

Pristine beech forest
Volcanic rock formations
Great technical trails

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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




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

Panthers Rock Pub
Feed and a pint

Stavely Store
Get your supplies and or hut tickets here

Trail Legend


Rob Millar

has completed The Southern Pinnacles once in the last year.

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Trail Reviews

7-Oct-19: Gorgeous blue skies and sunshine, no wind, snow capped mountains with pockets of snow on the trail. Stunning views over Canterbury plains and Ashburton Lakes. 90% of the time the track consisted of tree roots, mud channels, stones/rocks with little even surface to get into a rhythm of any sort. Stayed in Pinnacles hut overnight, went to the top of Mt Somers the next day which had deep snow drifts and fantastic views. Hard work coming back down the uneven trail but lots of beautiful beech forest and loved the overhanging rock waterfall.Would have given it 5-stars if there was more opportunity to get into a running rhythm.

John OConnell

October 10, 2019

Awesomely technical trails and the side trip up to the climbing area at the Pinnacles is so well worth it. Try and overnight at Pinnacles Hut if you can, great place to watch the sunrise!

Tony Sharpe

April 12, 2018

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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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