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Sawpit Gully - German Hill, Otago

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Sawpit Gully - German HillBeginner - Intermediate

Submitted by Malcolm Law

Info Info
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Trail Information







Front country - easily accessible


Undulating, some big hills

Native bush
Open tussock/grasslands

Beginner - Intermediate

1:30 (Slow)
1:00 (Moderate)
0:45 (Fast)



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Fastest Known Times (FKTs)

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Start behind the Chinese Miners Settlement and cross the small wooden bridge across the Arrow River, veering right to pick up the marked Sawpit Gully Trail as it follows the old pipeline upstream.

After 1.5k keep a sharp lookout for a hairpin left turn next to a big rock that takes you steeply uphill into Sawpit Gully. Last time I was there the signpost was missing. If you end up dropping towards the red bridge across the Arrow you've gone too far!

The track becomes a bit rougher as you head up hill, but nothing too technical. It crosses the stream in several places but in normal flows this can be done on stepping stones without getting wet feet.

3km into the run the track crosses the stream one last time at a point marked by two yellow poles. Very shortly after that is another yellow pole where you'll need to bear left. The trail then climbs steadily to a broad saddle at about 3.9k. To your left is the unmarked trail that heads up to the summit of German Hill, a rounded summit with no marker as such but which gives brilliant views down to Lake Hayes, across to the Cardrona Range and up to Brow Peak.

After soaking in the views follow the same trail downhill to rejoin the main trail and turn left. Not far along is a marked junction where you'll head straight on in to a small clump of beech forest.

Follow the trail downhill to a small wooden bridge and continue downstream to pick up a 4WD track that takes you the last 600 metres back to where you started.

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Features of interest

The area is rich in gold-mining history and is outstandingly scenic yet accessible.

Make Up of Run

Moderate Single Track: 25%

Easy Single Track: 65%

Farm Road / 4WD Track: 10%

Route Data


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Overlapping Runs

The following trails overlap with this run 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 Strava activity for each

Big Hill Circuit

Big Hill Circuit

Length: 20.70km

Brow Peak Mini Mission

Brow Peak Mini Mission

Length: 21.00km


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I did it!
  • Access

    Arrowtown Chinese Settlement, off Villiers St. at the bottom of town next to the river

    Plenty of parking here or just next door along the river bank at another large (free) public car park. It can get pretty full in peak season though. I've never had any security issues but keep in-car valuables out of sight just in case

    0 km

    1 minutes



  • Staying Safe


    Make navigation of this route super-easy by using the Capra app on your phone. View on Capra .

    Keep a sharp eye out for the junction at 1.5k, otherwise it's all pretty straightforward.


    Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Gloves, Beanie/thermal headwear, Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Cellphone, Map, Crampons / microspikes (for winter conditions).

    Carry water with you as there is stock in the area and the stream water could be contaminated.

    In winter some parts of the trail doesn't see much sun and can get very icy. If tackling in winter conditions then take micro-spikes.

    At all times of year it has the potential to be cold so take extra layers.

  • Post run indulgence

    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

    Zuzu's Gelato
    25 Buckingham Street
    Great gelato!

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