Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023

Intermediate - Experienced

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I've done it Done

French Ridge hut

Wanaka, Otago

Submitted by Rachel Bridgewater and James Brewer

Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023

Intermediate - Experienced

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I've done it Done


Grunt Factor: 48 ?

Gnarl Factor: 22 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Back country - remote

Out and Back


Native bush


Open farmlands

Open tussock/grasslands

Open ridges/tops

Run Makeup


Farm Road / 4WD Track

Easy Single Track

Moderate Single Track

Technical Single Track

Average Uphill Gradient: +9.2%

Average Downhill Gradient: -9.5%


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Estimated Times to Run

Not suitable






Start at Raspberry Creekcarpark (toilet and water there). The first 10km to Aspiring hut covers mostly flat grassy farmland over a four wheel drive track beside the river.

Beyond Aspiring hut carry on up the West Matukituki Track which enters bush (awesome nz native beech) for a few kms before reaching a large grassy area (Shovel flat) and, further along, Pearl flat. From here, you can either ford the river (depending on whether its safe to do so) or cross the Liverpool Stream swingbridge a little further upriver. If you take the latter option you then make your way back down the true left of the river until you will see the DoC sign to head up the French Ridge track.

After crossing from Pearl Flat, the track (signposted) enters the bush and climbs steeply (this section of climbing before you hit the subalpine section is a very steep and technical, including x2 very short rope sections to help you get up). You will leave the bush line eventually and see a clear ridge that leads to the hut - just be wary of the cliff/bluffs as the track makes it way on top of these. Just above the bush line you may encounter snow depending on the weather so be prepared for mountain and snow conditions (regardless of time of year) and check the weather before you go.

Return the way you came. Make sure you check out the toilet at French Ridge hut.

Look out for the Bonar Glacier and Mount Aspiring

If you know of any public toilets near the trail start or on the route, please login and then let us know so we can update this section.

Plenty of free parking spaces at Raspberry Creek carpark.

52 km

60 minutes




The only place that could be easy to take a wrong turn would be figuring out where to cross the river (if you choose to do so and the conditions are safe for a river crossing) at Pearl flat. However, once you cross the river, the track leading into the bush and start of climb was well signposted.


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

You can fill up with water at Aspiring hut (9-10km) or at French ridge hut at the top of the climb. Any streams upriver of Aspiring Hut are also good to drink from.

Streams can be more fast flowing and full in spring conditions due to snow melt or after heavy rainfall. Above the bush line you are entering subalpine conditions and into the winter, snow. Be prepared to turn around. High winds also can be an issue. Check the weather before you go and be well prepared.

Take care of the bluffs to the side of the trail above the bush line. Although there is a wide route and it's fairly safe, you should take extreme care (or turn around) in high winds.

Trail Legend

Gregory Bassam

Gregory Bassam

has completed French Ridge hut once in the last year.

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Trail Reviews

French Ridge would be one of my favorite experiences ever. Great hut too. Suggest taking shoes off for the Matukituki crossing if you want dray feet up the hill, but no biggie either way. The hill however, thats a biggie!!

Tony Sharpe

October 6, 2020

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