Last Updated: 13th Feb 2024


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Cameron Hut return

Mt Somers Village, Canterbury

Submitted by Mike Steel

Last Updated: 13th Feb 2024


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I've done it Done


Grunt Factor: 42 ?

Gnarl Factor: 54 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Front country - easily accessible

Out and Back

Undulating, small hills only


Open tussock/grasslands


Run Makeup


Moderate Single Track

Technical Single Track

Average Uphill Gradient: +6.8%

Average Downhill Gradient: -6.8%


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Estimated Times to Run







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.

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.

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




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.


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 fantastic route offering up classic Canterbury high country scenery. Loved the contrast of gently rolling tussock clad hills with the jagged high peaks of the Arrowsmith range.

I ran this route on 8 June 2024 and after reading previous reviews it seems the route is much better marked now with many new bright orange poles. There's a bit of follow-your-nose involved and choosing between the river bed and impact trails on the river bank, but I was never really left wondering where to head next. I'm probably of average Wildthings fitness and took 5:37 return including 15-20 minutes at Cameron hut.

It also looked like someone had been through and cut down a lot of the prickly scrub, especialy in the part between the carpark and Highland Home. The only part where I copped a lot of matagouri and spaniard scratches was on the hill where you veer away from the Cameron River before rejoining at Spean Stream. As Mike said, if in doubt just stick to the dry river bed.

Tom Brennan

June 9

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

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