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Ailsa - Humboldt Circuit, Otago

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Ailsa - Humboldt CircuitVery Experienced

Submitted by James Harcombe

Info Info
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Trail Information







Back country - remote



Native bush
Open farmlands
Open tussock/grasslands
Open ridges/tops

Very Experienced

24:00 (Slow)
18:00 (Moderate)
12:00 (Fast)



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From the Routeburn Shelter, start running back down the access road, past the Routeburn Station Homestead as far as Scott Creek. Follow the Scott Creek route all the way to Scott Basin, taking care not to go left at the first creek (topo map and compass recommended!). Once in the Basin, head left along the creek. At the watershed between Scott basin and Kay Creek, it's possible to either head into Death Valley over the col, or directly to Kay Creek Hut. The direct route is given on the GPX file, but it's the least preferable, as the descent is extremely steep, slippery and full of bluffs. Once at Kay Creek Hut, follow the orange markers down the valley to join up with the Caples Track. Turn right and head over McKellar saddle into the Greenstone. On joining the Greenstone, turn right towards Howden Hut. Complete the Loop via the Routeburn Track.

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Features of interest

Plenty of Beech and Alpine flora and fauna, though you won't have much time to take it in if you want to finish in daylight!

Make Up of Run

Untracked / Route only: 25%

Technical Single Track: 50%

Moderate Single Track: 10%

Easy Single Track: 10%

Gravel Road: 5%

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

Whisky Trail and Routeburn

Whisky Trail and Routeburn

Length: 58.00km



Length: 54.00km


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Wild Explorers

I did it!
  • Access

    Start is at the Routeburn Shelter Car Park.

    Large safe parking area.

    25 km

    28 minutes



  • Staying Safe

    Very hard.

    The route up Scott Creek is often overgrown. To pick up the orange markers from the first stile, head for the large clump of steep bracken that's closest to the creek. Reasonable map reading skills are required to make it through to Death Valley. If you are unsure, don't try this route (the clue is in the name!). The track from Kay Creek Hut is well marked with orange triangles and follows the true right of the river.


    Waterproof leggings, Thermal leggings, Lightweight fleece top, Short-sleeved thermal top, Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Windproof jacket, Gloves, Beanie/thermal headwear, Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival bag, Cellphone, Compass, Map, Headtorch and spare batteries, Crampons / microspikes (for winter conditions), Gaiters.

    Plenty of water all along this route!

    Not to be attempted after heavy rain (river crossings involved) or after heavy snow (avalanche danger). Not advisable from after the first Winter snow, till the time it melts!

    See above.

  • Post run indulgence

    Kinloch Lodge
    Kinloch, Glenorchy
    Great selection of beer. Friendly welcoming staff, and a spa bath if you stay the night!

  • Sponsor this trail

    If you are interested in learning about sponsorship opportunities, please get in touch below:


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