Last Updated: 28th May 2024


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Big Hill Circuit

Big Hill Arrowtown

Big Hill Walkway, Arrow River Trail, Bush Creek Trail, Big Hill Trail, Sawpit Gully Trail

Arrowtown, Otago

Submitted by Malcolm Law

Last Updated: 28th May 2024


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Grunt Factor: 29 ?

Gnarl Factor: 29 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Front country - easily accessible


Undulating, some big hills

Dog Friendly

Native bush


Open tussock/grasslands

Run Makeup


Farm Road / 4WD Track

Easy Single Track

Moderate Single Track

Technical Single Track

Average Uphill Gradient: +13.0%

Average Downhill Gradient: -12.4%


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Estimated Times to Run







From the Chinese Camp cross Bush Creek on a small wooden bridge, turn right and head up the Arrow River for 100m or so, then left onto a track just beside the pipeline of the Arrow irrigation scheme.

Follow this wicked bit of single track north for a couple of kms and cross the Arrow River on the footbridge. Then turn left on to the 4WD track. Follow this as it climbs high above the river, crosses Brackens Gully and descends again.

Shortly after crossing Soho Creek (about 6.5 kms into the run) there is a small section of single track leading to a footbridge across to the western (true right) side of the Arrow River. Keep heading up valley on the 4WD road for about another 4 kms. There are a few places where the road fords the river but you can usually find a way through on the same side to avoid wet feet if you wish.

After about 10kms you reach the site of the derelict Mt. Soho homestead (not massively obvious) and then you'll see Eight Mile Creek (or Coronet Creek as it is sometimes known) merging with the main valley from the left. Head west into Eight Mile Creek (the route is easy but not particularly well marked) and follow the sketchy farm track upstream for a short distance while looking out for poles that mark the beginning of Big Hill Track (on your left as you head upstream).

The Big Hill track starts with a steep uphill grunt (a bit scrubby in places). Follow the marker poles uphill bearing towards the south east as you get higher and follow the valley that leads to the saddle just below Big Hill. The total climb from Eight Mile Creek is 400m over about 2.4 kms.

The best bit of the run is now about to start! From here it's pretty much unbroken downhill on great single track all the way back to Arrowtown. Follow the track down for several kms until you reach the junction with Sawpit Gully Track. Turn right and keep heading downhill to the junction with Bush Creek Track. Turn left and follow the pipeline back out to where you started.

Lots of gold mining history and great views, especially on descent from Big Hill back to Arrowtown

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.

Heaps of parking although it can get full on busy days in peak season. I've never had any safety issues but keep valuables out of sight just in case.

1 km

3 minutes




Keep a sharp eye out for Eight Mile Creek and the marker poles that mark the bottom of Big Hill Track. These are not easily visible so careful navigation is required.


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, Cellphone, Compass, Map

I wouldn't trust water from any of the main streams as there is stock grazing upstream. Water in the side stream half way up Big Hill Track (if flowing, can be dry in high summer) is OK. Take plenty of water with you.

Do not attempt after heavy rain as the Arrow River fords could be treacherous and the bypass routes could be washed out. Otherwise, so long as you are well prepared and kitted out for the conditions this is pretty much a year-round circuit.

Zuzu's Gelato
25 Buckingham Street
Great gelato!

Centennial Ave, Arrowtown
Great food, nice garden setting for a sunny day

The Fork & Tap
51 Buckingham Street, Arrowtown
Good food, good craft beer selection, nice outside area

Trail Legend

Janette Gwilliam

Janette Gwilliam

has completed Big Hill Circuit 3 times in the last year.

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Trail Reviews

30th of May 2023, Challenging weather conditions, very wet, muddy, windy, overgrown at places and slippery. Glad I did it, the climb up to Sawpit was bit of a struggle then quite muddy but comfortable. Running down to Soho creek was pretty much running in a creek due the rain. Deep unavoidable puddles on the way to Macetown. Not a single soul along the whole way apart from few stinky goats.

Jakub Kanok

May 30, 2023

Put this one on your dreamlist and then check it off - fabulous run!

Natalie Atkin

April 28, 2023

Wow! The perfect introduction to Arrowtown's back country trails.

Mike McManaway

December 23, 2021

Brilliant run. Can feel very remote very quickly with varied terrain and superb views. River crossings are a must to add some fun into the run after the slog down the 4WD (if you do it in reverse which is what I usually do) and cool down in the summer!

Jude O'Neill

March 28, 2021

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Overlapping Trails

These overlap with this trail to some degree. You may wish to combine them but please note that to qualify for FKTs on these runs you should record a separate activity for each.



Length: 27.5km

Level: Beginner - Intermediate

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