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North-South Temple circuit, Canterbury

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North-South Temple circuitExperienced

Submitted by Mike Steel

Info Info
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Trail Information







Back country - remote



Native bush
Open ridges/tops


8:30 (Slow)
6:15 (Moderate)
4:30 (Fast)



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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.

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Features of interest

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).

Make Up of Run

Untracked / Route only: 25%

Technical Single Track: 45%

Moderate Single Track: 30%

Route Data


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Wild Explorers

I did it!
  • Access

    Drive past Lake Ohau (off the main highway between Twizel and Omarama) about 6km, cross Temple Stream and turn left to follow the 2km road to the spacious flat grassy carpark. The last section is quite rough but passable in 2WD with care.

    No issues

    50 km

    53 minutes



  • Staying Safe


    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.

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