Last Updated: 13th Feb 2024

Intermediate

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I've done it Done

Cameron Hut return

Mt Somers Village, Canterbury

Submitted by Mike Steel

Last Updated: 13th Feb 2024

Intermediate

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I've done it Done

Open

Grunt Factor: 42

Gnarl Factor: 54

31.0km

800m

800m

1300m

  

  

  

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Trail Map

Type of Run

Front country - easily accessible

Out and Back

Undulating, small hills only

Riverside

Open tussock/grasslands

Other

Run Makeup

70%
30%

Moderate Single Track

Technical Single Track

Average Uphill Gradient: +6.8%

Average Downhill Gradient: -6.8%

Trailhead

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Estimated Times to Run

8:30

Slow

6:30

Moderate

4:30

Fast

A there-and-back run (15.5km each way) up the narrow and open Cameron valley to Cameron hut which lies nestled under the spectacular rugged Arrowsmith mountains following a track or markers most of the way. It's a nice run especially in autumn or early summer in clear weather, with the sun behind you both ways, plenty of water en route, and mostly downhill on the return (with the option of a downhill bike ride and swim at the end). Feasible as a day trip from Christchurch if you start early.

Just past past a locked gate run up valley on the track which stays on the true right of the river the whole way (usually on or near the riverbed, but sometimes on tracks through scrub or matagouri, some of which may end in tears - i.e. if in doubt head for the river). After an hour or so (depending on your pace) you'll pass the old 'highland home' hut on the other side of the river, and at the end of the next long open section of valley the track climbs over a prominent tussock hill before descending to the river again, crossing Spean stream. Further up, near the obvious jumble of moraine mounds keep left, follow cairns and occasional markers steeply up beside wet and dry riverbeds. A marker indicates where the track climbs up to the right and doubles back slightly over a mound to the hut which you can only see right near the end.

From the hut it's a pleasant wander further up valley on the obvious 'carriageway' or for better views on moraine wall on the opposite side of the valley, or even just the little hill right by the hut; sunglasses and sunhat are useful - it can be pretty bright up there. The return mostly-downhill run and bike-ride is fun, and you can cool off with dip in the lake at the end.

Awesome high, steep and glaciated mountains at the head of the valley and interesting amphitheatre to explore there. Sheltered, secluded valley, east of the divide. No significant river crossings.

The parking spot seems very safe. Also possible to park by Lake Heron and bike the few km to the start. No public transport in this area.

45 km

111 minutes

Unknown

No

Moderate.

It's hard to get seriously lost. Lower down you might take a trail that ends in matagouri - just backtrack a bit and try closer to the river. Further up (over the big hill and into the next steep section) keep an eye out for cairns and markers (some people have got temporarily 'lost' here) - the hut is not visible until you are very close to it.

Non-existent.

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, Map.

Plenty of water (from streams and the glacier-fed river) the whole way, plus rainwater from the hut.
Toilet and emergency radio at the Cameron Hut (which is not locked, owned by the Canterbury Mountaineering Club).

In winter/early spring the upper parts of this trail can be under snow.

Trail Legend

Steve Anderson

Steve Anderson

has completed Cameron Hut return once in the last year.

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Trail Reviews

A great trail on a good day, as you are always drawn further on by the Arrowsmiths in the distance, until you're there at their feet and trying to figure out if the hut door colour is pink, purple or cerise!
An overgrown track this summer with plenty of flora that likes to have a jab at your legs. As above for taking extra food and sticking close to the river when possible.
7:30hr for the whole trip in and out, the occasionaly detour to check where the trail was, and close to 34km with 800m vert.

Christian Couper

January 18, 2022

Not an easy track to follow but what an awesome day out....., despite numerous scratches and skin punctures. Nothing that a plunge in the stream at the end didnt fix. Plan on spending longer out than the description and take plenty of sustenance to keep you going. Something I didnt do

Rob Stent

January 18, 2020

thanks for that feedback and comments Paula, that's helpful. I've found that in places its quite a bit quicker to run on the dry riverbed nearer the river, than trying to follow the somewhat slow overgrown trail through scrub (this avoids most 'spaniard issues') - especially the section between the big hill and Spean stream. Have done this run about six times, and the last time it took me 2 hours, 10mins (running time) to reach the hut, and a little less on the return; but that's quite a bit faster than the first time I tried it.

Mike Steel

September 16, 2018

Firstly to anyone reading this, don't go by the above trail times!! Fortunately my running buddies and I were out at Lake Heron nice and early, thinking we would be able to complete it in under 7 hours. We were wrong - took us 8 1/2 hours. We are not slow either, running when we could on the track, but much of the track is not easy to run on and the track is very hard to follow at times. The markers are few and far between in many areas. It's a great achievement to get all the way to the Cameron hut, but be prepared with warm clothes as the weather can change quickly once up the top near the glacier. The Spaniard Grass will leave your lower legs ripped up if you don't wear protection over them. Fantastic views all the way up, and when you are thinking you will never make it too the hut, keep going as it is worth it in the end. Getting out is faster, as you will see the track better going back.

Paula Campbell

October 26, 2017

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