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The Royal Richardson Traverse, Otago

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The Royal Richardson TraverseIntermediate - Experienced

Submitted by James Harcombe

Info Info
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Trail Information







Back country - remote

Out and Back


Open tussock/grasslands
Open ridges/tops

Intermediate - Experienced

8:00 (Slow)
6:00 (Moderate)
3:30 (Fast)



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From the car park, follow the signposts towards Heather Jock Hut. This is a fairly consistent 1200m climb. Once at the hut, head up to the ridge line to the South East. You should be able to pick up the old mining track that leads towards Avalanche Slip Hut (now a ruin, 'cause it got hit by an avalanche!) This section of track is washed out in places and should be crossed with care! Once clear of the flanks of Mt. Alaska, the track joins an old water race - the fastest part of the course! At the clearing towards the end of the water race, you will need to head SE up the very steep ridgeline, then head right along the ridge as far as Dwell Hut. If you have the time and energy, Mt.Larkins can be summited from here (allow an extra 3 hours). Return from the hut the same way. A more direct descent is possible down the scree slope before the ridge you ascended (recommended if you like that sort of thing!) Re-join the water race, but after crossing Avalanche Slip, head South West towards the top of Mt. Alaska. Once at the top, follow the ridge down to the North West to re-join the track to Heather Jock Hut (more awesome scree!) From the hut, retrace your steps to the car park.

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Features of interest

The lower track passes through scheelite mines and restored historic cottages. Plenty of DOC information along the way describing the rich history of the area.

Make Up of Run

Untracked / Route only: 40%

Technical Single Track: 40%

Farm Road / 4WD Track: 20%

Route Data


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Wild Explorers

I did it!
  • Access

    Whakaari Conservation Area Car Park. A couple of k's before Glenorchy, on the right, coming from Queenstown. The car park entrance is just before the last descent into Glenorchy township.

    Plenty of parking at the Whakaari Conservation Area car park.

    2 km

    2 minutes



  • Staying Safe


    This route should only be attempted in clear settled weather. Without line of sight, navigation is extremely difficult, confusing, and only to be undertaken by runners who are very experienced with a map and compass.


    Waterproof leggings, Thermal leggings, Lightweight fleece top, Short-sleeved thermal top, 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 bag, Cellphone, Compass, Map, Headtorch and spare batteries, Crampons / microspikes (for winter conditions).

    Plenty of small streams along the way that are safe for drinking.

    Very exposed terrain! Only passable in the Summer months. In Winter, there is significant avalanche hazard and deep snow.

    Avalanche prone after heavy snow and in the spring. Steep drop offs and cliffs.

  • Post run indulgence

    Glenorchy Cafe
    Great coffee and crumble!

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