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Two Tarns Stepathon, Canterbury

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Two Tarns StepathonIntermediate

Submitted by Tom Booth

Info Info
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Trail Information






Mt Cook Village

Front country - easily accessible


Very hilly

Native bush
Open ridges/tops


3:15 (Slow)
2:30 (Moderate)
1:40 (Fast)



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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.

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Features of interest

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!

Make Up of Run

Technical Single Track: 35%

Moderate Single Track: 20%

Easy Single Track: 30%

Sealed Road: 15%

Route Data


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Overlapping Runs

The following trails overlap with this run 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 Strava activity for each

Mueller Hut

Mueller Hut

Length: 9.00km

Red Tarns

Red Tarns

Length: 3.50km


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Wild Explorers

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  • Access

    Best place to start is outside the DOC office, though can be started outside the hotel as well!

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

    1 km

    2 minutes



  • Staying Safe


    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!!

  • Post run indulgence

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

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