Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023


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North-South Temple circuit

Twizel, Canterbury

Submitted by Mike Steel

Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023


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I've done it Done


Grunt Factor: 59 ?

Gnarl Factor: 80 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Back country - remote



Native bush


Open ridges/tops

Run Makeup


Moderate Single Track

Technical Single Track

Untracked / Route only

Average Uphill Gradient: +15.1%

Average Downhill Gradient: -12.4%


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Estimated Times to Run







This classic 2-3 day tramping route is a superb and relatively straightforward summertime run in a spectacular alpine setting. From the car park, run up valley and cross the river and run up the forested North Temple valley (<1 hour) which is walled in by an impressive and forbidding cirque. In the corner (on your left) is an obvious narrow gully that leads steeply up to 'Gunsight Pass' (1900m) and which is a pleasant sustained climb, easier than it looks, with great views from the top.

Descend steep but runnable scree on the south side, tending right, and further down boulder hop down the rocks that form a path between scrub in the upper valley - watch out for a marked track (markers, cairns) initially on the true right leads through scrub sections and then forest tracks and open riverbed. The South Temple hut is situated on a terrace on the true right of the valley near where the river makes a sweeping turn to the left. From the hut, it's a cruisy run out through the forest track by the river and back to the start.

The remote north valley has an impressive cirque at its head; spectacular views during the crossing to the gentler south branch (which has a hut).

No issues

50 km

53 minutes




While the valley trails are mostly fine (and follow the river quite closely) there may be a few sections that have been washed out (look for cairns). Don't attempt this after heavy rain, or in poor visibility (some routefinding is required from the pass down to pick up the south branch track) - take a map and compass.


Thermal leggings, Lightweight fleece top, Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Gloves, Beanie/thermal headwear, Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival blanket, Cellphone, Compass, Map

Plenty of water in the valleys

Mostly only feasible from summer-early autumn; Gunsight Pass likely to have snow (esp. on the south side) in winter/early spring.
If the stream level is too high you will fortunately discover this right at the start.

Trail Legend

Brooke  Cox

Brooke Cox

has completed North-South Temple circuit once in the last year.

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Trail Reviews

This was short in distance and not heaps of vert...but it was steep. We went anti closewise..not sure why..but going up the scree was hard and steep. Views from saddle beautiful..we are three reasonably competant runners...but got a bit off track after the hut so a bit of unnecessary bush bashing. Just under 7hrs. Quite demanding down the other side..a.long steep technical down, hard on the thighs!

Julie Williamson

March 12, 2023

Awesome Loop with a little bit of everything, great variety of terrain along with stunning scenery.
Not to be treated lightly weather conditions can add to this challenge, noticeable temp difference between the valley trails and going over the Pass, travel prepared.

Steve Anderson

April 5, 2021

Brilliant. Big day out and be prepared with appropriate gear. Trip up North Temple is easy and beautiful. We went between Christmas and New Year and Gunsight Pass was very technical due to the hard snow and verglas and we had to down climb the south side. Experience travelling in these conditions is necessary and its hard to tell how the conditions are from the bottom of the pass because of the slight corner it turns. Crampons and an ice axe would be necessary for many people in these conditions. A couple of people had been over it a few days before in much softer conditions but it still would have required experience travelling in snow. For this reason the trip over the pass took longer than anticipated so potentially expect the day trip to be much longer than what the times above suggest. The South Temple is long but fantastic. A lot of bush bashing is required at the head of the valley before you'll find the trail so be patient. But overall, so long as you are prepared, its a wonderful day out in a stunning part of the country!

Jude O'Neill

May 1, 2020

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