Rees Dart Reverse RunIntermediate - Experienced
Submitted by Sierra Alef-Defoe
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Back country - remote
Point to Point (one way)
Undulating, some big hills
Native bushRiversideOpen tussock/grasslandsOpen ridges/tops
Intermediate - Experienced
Fastest Known Times (FKTs)
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The Rees-Dart! A wee tour of Mt Aspiring National Park, where a well-formed track takes you past stunning views like Dart Glacier and Pikirakitahi/Mt Earnslaw.
Running the track in reverse, as the "Dart-Rees," allows for a more gradual ascent towards Rees Saddle (1471). It also allows you the chance to keep your feet dry until the very end if it's summer conditions; as the head of the Rees trail is a bog where you are guaranteed to get your feet wet and muddy.
The Dart track is undulating, mostly in the forest especially to start. Daleys Flat Hut falls about halfway into the Dart track, providing a good toilet stop. After Daleys you get a bit more open grasslands on the way to Dart Hut.
Just before Dart Hut, views of the Whitbourn Glacier start peaking through the trees. Dart Hut can be considered the halfway point; definitely fill up some water here as you won't get a good chance again for another couple of hours.
Leaving Dart Hut, you continue onto the Rees track, which starts with decidedly steeper terrain heading up towards the saddle. This section offers some of the most rewarding views of the track. The Upper Snowy Creek Bridge is removed in winter.
After the bridge, the track becomes more undulating again until Rees Saddle (1471), where there is also a worthwhile side trip up to Pt 1537.
Heading down the Rees Valley from the saddle, take a bit of care on the rocky terrain. Soon you will meet the Rees river, great if you need to fill up water after the saddle.
The track takes a steady downhill towards Shelter Rock hut, and you are rewarded with some stunning views of waterfalls and eventually Pikirakatahi/Mt Earnslaw.
The Rees track is pretty good travel until around the 25-mile bridge, and then the last 6 km out of Rees Valley Station are a true bog.
If the weather is warm and the river is low, some people prefer to just walk in the river and/or on the farm track that crosses the river many times.
There are many worthwhile side trips from the Rees-Dart track, such as Dart Glacier/Cascade Saddle, and Kea Basin/Pikirakitahi-Mt Earnslaw. These could be considered as options for a multi-day mission.
Features of interest
Glaciers, rock bivvies, waterfalls
Make Up of Run
Technical Single Track: 10%
Moderate Single Track: 70%
Easy Single Track: 20%
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
Starts at Chinaman's Bluff carpark at the head of the Dart track, at the end of the Glenorchy-Paradise Rd. Terminates at Muddy Creek Carpark at the head of the Rees track, at the end of the Rees Valley Rd.
The Rees-Dart is more of a horse shoe than a loop, so some logistics are required, as there is 34 km of road to travel between carparks. It should also be noted that both these roads include dirt/gravel sections, fords, and parts that are prone to mud or slips. Some very keen people do the shuttle with a mountain bike. The more common solutions are to do a key swap, get a car relocated, or get a nice friend to do pick-up & drop-off.
Being a popular tramping track, maintained by DOC with serviced huts in the summer, this track is generally well-marked and easy to follow.
Windproof jacket, Gloves, Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Cellphone, Map, Headtorch and spare batteries.
Water is readily available from side streams, as well as in tanks at the 3 huts along the track. The Dart is not so nice to drink from due to silt, and the Rees not so nice once you've passed the Mt Aspiring National Park boundary due to livestock.
The track crosses many avalanche pathways, so it's best avoided in winter or spring. Additionally, Upper Snowy Creek bridge is removed in winter, and it would make for a really gnarly crossing. Also wouldn't want to go during or after a big rain with slippery/muddy conditions and rising side streams.
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