Last Updated: 21st Dec 2023

Beginner - Intermediate

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Sawpit Gully - German Hill

Arrowtown, Otago

Submitted by Malcolm Law

Last Updated: 21st Dec 2023

Beginner - Intermediate

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I've done it Done


Grunt Factor: 13 ?

Gnarl Factor: 28 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Front country - easily accessible


Undulating, some big hills

Native bush


Open tussock/grasslands

Run Makeup


Farm Road / 4WD Track

Easy Single Track

Moderate Single Track

Average Uphill Gradient: +14.1%

Average Downhill Gradient: -12.6%


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Estimated Times to Run







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.

This trail includes the peak German Hill.

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

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




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.

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!

Trail Legend

Janette Gwilliam

Janette Gwilliam

has completed Sawpit Gully - German Hill 4 times in the last year.

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Fastest Known Times (FKTs)

For a valid FKT you will need to do the short out and back to the summit of German Hill. 

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Trail Reviews

Very fun loop. Autumn colour's made it even more amazing. Short technical climbs and drops, views and a variety of terrain. Very good

Brad Geen

April 11, 2023

Did this run but added on the out and back along Bush Creek to the saddle which is a fantastic addition. Stunning view from there.
Such a variety of terrain, love how it opens out into big space after the climb up through the gully. It was a hot day so walking through the streams was welcome! Short sharp climb up to German Hill summit with amazing 360° view

Anne-Louise Robertson

December 15, 2022

What an absolute gem! Wonderful intro to Arrowtown trails

Tony Sharpe

August 20, 2022

Neat little loop - lots of history. Beautiful views.

Zavana McAffer

May 23, 2022

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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.

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