Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023


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Two Tarns Stepathon

Mt Cook Village, Canterbury

Submitted by Tom Booth

Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023


I've done it Done

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Grunt Factor: 28

Gnarl Factor: 50





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Trail Map

Type of Run

Front country - easily accessible


Very hilly

Native bush

Open ridges/tops

Run Makeup


Sealed Road

Easy Single Track

Moderate Single Track

Technical Single Track

Average Uphill Gradient: +14.6%

Average Downhill Gradient: -14.7%


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Estimated Times to Run







Best place to start is at the DOC office, follow path towards the hotel and then follow signs pointing to Kea Point and Hooker Valley. When the track forks veer left to Sealy tarns/Kea point. Follow trail to Sealy Tarns turn off (doing an out and back to Kea Point is also a worthwhile venture).

Then its up up and away to the tarns (just under 2k from turn off to tarns) - once at the top soak in the views and then back down you go (beware the steps feel steeper as you descend!) Re-trace your steps back to where you began at the DOC office.

If you're hungry for more then follow the road down to the bottom of the village past the gas station to the public shelter on the right. From here follow the path that starts the other side of the shelter which takes you to a bridge that crosses a river to the start of the Red Tarns Track. From here its up again (these steps aren't as steep, they may feel it though.) When you reach the tarns soak in some more views (a scramble up to McNulty's Tarns is also excellent however this is off trail with an interesting scree descent). Descend back to where you began and finish at the DOC office.

Sealy Tarns, sweet views of Mt Cook & surrounding tops. Good chance of spotting a Kea too!
Red Tarns, again awesome views of Mt Cook Village and tops!

Plenty of parking at the DOC office, also at the shelter at the start of the Red Tarns Track!

1 km

2 minutes




Follow the green DOC signs and you can't go wrong!


Thermal leggings, Lightweight fleece top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Gloves, Beanie/thermal headwear, Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival blanket, Cellphone, Map, Headtorch and spare batteries, Crampons / microspikes (for winter conditions).

As you pass by the start point halfway you can fill up at the fountain outside the DOC office, the public shelter at the start of the red tarns track also has water.

Be careful as the steps on both tracks can become icy in winter, I would recommend giving this one a miss between July and October (conditions pending of course)

Sealy Tarns is steep!!! Take care on descent!! Both tracks are steps all the way so care is required both ways!!

Old mountaineers cafe
Next to DOC office
I mean the view alone is awesome! Good food and drink too.

You and Two Tarns Stepathon

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Trail Reviews

Had the pleasure of experiencing the Mt Cook area in its absolute weather extremes. Ran "The Keas" and "Icing on the cake" in torrential rain, 120km gale force winds, thunderstorms and lightning and the next day this trail, Sealy/Red tarns and Hooker Valley in picture perfect, bluebird, windless day!! This place is spectacular!!

Richie Hudson

March 22, 2023

Great workout and spectacular views!

Simon Dunlop

October 24, 2021

step-a-thon is accurate - its really not runnable up to 2000 odd steps but the view at the top is fantastic. is popular though so go early to avoid the crowds and do expect to have to stop for traffic on the way back down

Julia Anderson

February 6, 2019

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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.

Mueller Hut

Mueller Hut

Length: 9.0km

Level: Intermediate - Experienced

Mt Cook Village & Hooker Valley

Mt Cook Village & Hooker Valley

Length: 16.0km

Level: Beginner

Red Tarns

Red Tarns

Length: 3.5km

Level: Beginner

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