Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023


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Rock and Pillars VK

Middlemarch, Otago

Submitted by Kev Knowles

Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023


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I've done it Done

Grunt Factor: 32 ?

Gnarl Factor: 76 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Front country - easily accessible

Out and Back


Open farmlands

Open tussock/grasslands

Open ridges/tops

Run Makeup


Moderate Single Track

Technical Single Track

Average Uphill Gradient: +18.2%

Average Downhill Gradient: -18.2%


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Estimated Times to Run







There pretty much isn't a flat section in the route. Starts off uphill and then gets steeper, relenting near the top. The route is poled as far as Big Hut. You will cross into sub-alpine vegetation and you will pass Big Hut near to the top. Best route from the hut to Summit Rock is to follow the 4WD track and then turn left along a fence line to the summit. There is a trig [base] at the high point of the range.

Retrace you route ALL the way back down to your starting point. It's only an 1100m climb! It is possible to traverse either NE or SW from the top and put in a mega day on the tops. In poor weather/visibility good equipment and navigation skills are essential.

This trail includes the peak Summit Rock.

Classic Otago schist country. Extensive views from the top, all the way to Mt Aspiring. Alpine flora and fauna on the tops [wetas included]

Drive 6km North of Middlemarch and turn left onto a farm track beside a DOC sign. A couple of kms brings you to a some farm buildings and the starting point.

See the DOC brochure.

6 km

4 minutes




The DOC track markers only go up to Big Hut, from there you need to be able to navigate to the summit. Easy in good visibility but potentially dangerous in cloud/fog.


Lightweight fleece 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, Map, Headtorch and spare batteries, Crampons / microspikes (for winter conditions)

Stream near top before Big Hut, water tank at hut. May be frozen in winter.

It's alpine in winter!

Strath Taieri Hotel
Good country food, beer on tap. What more do you need?

Kissing Gate Cafe

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Trail Reviews good fun is how I'd describe this route.
The Skull is pretty much exactly half way to the Hut, and then further up is some of the most delicious water.

Route Clarification - past the hut take the right hand 4WD track and follow all the way to the fenceline and turn RIGHT, follow the fenceline until you see the trig base up on your Left. The big obvious rocks on the right are not the highpoint, duh.

Matt Bixley

January 1, 2021

Steep but oh so rewarding on clear day. Didn't help my time by stopping for a hundred photos, & just taking it all in. Soooooo different to my usual North Island runs. Thanks for sharing this fabulous run.

Glen Brownlee

November 13, 2020

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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.

Rock and Pillars Loop

Rock and Pillars Loop

Length: 23.0km

Level: Intermediate