Last Updated: 20th Feb 2024


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Big A Little A - Mt Arrowsmith

Mt Somers Village, Canterbury

Submitted by Matt Doherty

Last Updated: 20th Feb 2024


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I've done it Done


Grunt Factor: 48 ?

Gnarl Factor: 7 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Back country - remote


Undulating, some big hills

Open farmlands

Open tussock/grasslands

Run Makeup


Gravel Road

Farm Road / 4WD Track

Average Uphill Gradient: +6.6%

Average Downhill Gradient: -7.0%


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Estimated Times to Run







This is the route used in Thee Run & Thee Ride marathons each year. There is also a 17km option which takes in most of the first climb but doesn't head around the mountain (Little A).
This is on private land so contact the owners who will be able to give up to date advice on their tracks.

The loop heads up the Cameron river then over a saddle to drop to the South Ashburton river before heading back over to the start at Lake Heron

From the woolshed head down to the road, turn left and follow the gravel road along lake for 2.5km
Head left across the fields for a couple of hundred meters to pick up the farm track and climb 700m over the next 8km. The track is a clay in some parts with loose rock in others, the views open up as you climb.
From this high point of 1400m there is a quad bashing descent which levels out as you near the river. There is a (flat) scree slope with large stones to run across at the 21km point.
Then continue along the river for 6km before veering left at the 27km mark and climbing a couple of short rises which will lead you through a nice little gorge. One last climb out of the gorge, follow around to the left, a quick 3km downhill than 5 rolling kms across the farm to the start

Mt Arrowsmith is a working station that welcomes trampers, Mtb's, horses, & 4WD etc onto their tracks for a small fee.
In 2018 it was $10 per day for biking & hiking, $15 for a horse & $20 for 4WD
They have a woolshed decked out for sleeping plus a flash lodge.
email or call +0064 3 303 9090
There is also a campground a few hundred meters before the farm.
This is big country with great views of a couple of different valleys that open right up as you climb and head around the mountain.

If you know of any public toilets near the trail start or on the route, please login and then let us know so we can update this section.

No public transport. Parking at the campground and at the station

40 km

45 minutes


Name: Mt Arrowsmith Station
Telephone: 03 303 9090


The land owners will give you up to date info on their tracks

Very patchy.

Thermal leggings, 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 bag, Cellphone, Compass, Map

Heaps of streams but this is farmland. Cheack with land owners. You run alongside the South Ashburton river for several kms around the halfway mark.

Expect snow in winter, cold winds around the tops and saddles, can get muddy after lots of rain.

Staverly Store
Nice food & coffee

You and Big A Little A - Mt Arrowsmith

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Trail Reviews

The views are spectacular and its a great day out; down by the river and through the gorge the track has taken a bashing; they are going to repair at some point but it makes for slower going. Ive done this route twice and was about 3/4 hour slower this time. Fast time of 5-5.5 hours, average speed 6-7 hours

Simon Huntley

January 22, 2023

I LOVED this running. If you are looking to take a break from technical trail running, but still want to experience a big climb and big views, this is the run for you. The views of Mount Arrowsmith are stunning. I can't wait to return.

Angie Campbell

March 13, 2019

Truly a 5 star run. I've been back 3 times here, and its never the same. Really enjoyed this year with the extra mud factor thanks to recent rain, brings out the tramper in you! Views to die for across the tops, and the valleys ain't half bad too. Thanks for posting as a directory trail, I had considered submitting it too but the private land thing made me hesitate. Nice to see the owners are open to us all and I would highly encourage folk to support them with the small fee for the convenience of using their land. But like most high country run holders- it is better to ask first than to seek forgiveness later

Tony Sharpe

April 18, 2018

Seemed to be way more flat running on this than I was expecting, even the 6km riverside running section felt flat. It would be nice to do when the race isn't on to enjoy the country a bit more. I'm tempted to ride it too, it would be a really nice climb on the bike, Big A little A - Another in the series of musically themed trail guides. It was probably the poppiest song released by anarco punk originals Crass back in 1981 as the other side to the Nagasaki Nightmare 7" single, a nice wee reggae feel tucked away in there like on some of their early material.

Matt Doherty

April 17, 2018

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