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Cheap Seats Marathon, Otago

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Cheap Seats MarathonIntermediate

Submitted by Sierra Alef-Defoe

Info Info
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Trail Information






Lake Hawea

Urban fringe


Undulating, small hills only

Native bush
Open farmlands
Open tussock/grasslands


7:30 (Slow)
5:30 (Moderate)
3:30 (Fast)



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The Cheap Seats marathon loops Albert Town, Hāwea, and Luggate in just over a marathon distance. A classic tour of the Upper Clutha/Hāwea area.

Start at the Albert Town campsite and Hāwea swing bridge. The 45km loop links up with the following segments:

Hāwea river track (14 km): The DOC track follows Hāwea river from Albert Town campsite to Lake Hāwea Gladstone track. A DOC track takes you along the Hāwea lakefront (one small ford can occur along the beach be aware of this).

Timaru Creek Road dirt/gravel links Lake Hāwea to Hāwea Flat (look out for a few fords). Turn left down Hāwea back road after about 7km, veer left onto Kane road.

Kane Road links Hāwea Flat to Luggate (take caution on the open road). Towards the end of Kane Road, veer right off the road and onto Newcastle track (12 km): The DOC track along Upper Clutha river from Luggate to Albert Town Can be done nearly year-round.

Finally, run back over the Hāwea swing bridge to finish your run. All of this is also possible by bike.

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Features of interest

The Hāwea wave flat white water park.

Make Up of Run

Easy Single Track: 70%

Gravel Road: 15%

Sealed Road: 15%

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

Upper Clutha River Loop

Upper Clutha River Loop

Length: 29.50km

Hawea River Track

Hawea River Track

Length: 20.90km


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  • Access

    Albert Town campsite / Hāwea swing bridge. Alternatively the track could be started anywhere along the loop, such as Hāwea lakefront, Johns Creek, Newcastle trailhead off Kane Road, etc.

    Park near the Hāwea swing bridge at Albert Town campsite.

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  • Staying Safe


    If you don't know the area, you might want to check the map on the Hāwea back road, and where the turnoff is from Kane Rd to the Newcastle track. Other than that, you're mostly on DOC tracks that are signposted.

    Generally good.

    Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Windproof jacket, Cellphone.

    Although you follow rivers and a lake nearly the whole way, there aren't convenient places to fill with potable water. Either bring your own, or veer a bit off course to fill up at a cafe in Hāwea or Luggate.

    A few fords in the Hāwea back road/John Creek area can be high after storms. Newcastle track can be prone to mud and frost.

    There is about 7kms on Kane Road, which does not have a footpath, cars are traveling at 100 kmph. There is a shoulder most of the way, but take your earphones out and be very cautious.

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