Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023

Beginner - Intermediate

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Little Criffel from the Larches

Wanaka, Otago

Submitted by Isaac Walker

Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023

Beginner - Intermediate

Save Trail Save

I've done it Done

Grunt Factor: 30 ?

Gnarl Factor: 22 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Front country - easily accessible

Out and Back

Undulating, some big hills

Native bush


Open farmlands

Open tussock/grasslands

Run Makeup


Farm Road / 4WD Track

Easy Single Track

Untracked / Route only

Average Uphill Gradient: +12.1%

Average Downhill Gradient: -12.1%


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Estimated Times to Run







From the Larches carpark cross the stile and follow the orange poles. You will follow the main road for half a km or so then make a left turn towards the river. When approaching the river I simply found the best route across - poles are handy when crossing. Aim for the small valley and you should see another stile and DOC triangles. Follow the triangles and poles and signage all the way to the trig point at the top of Little Criffel. You will cross through a transition of kanuka, matagouri and broom into open tussock on the top of the Pisa Conservation Area. On a clear day you will get amazing views down to Wanaka and through to the Southern Alps.

Return the same way.

This trail includes the peak Little Criffel.

Great views over Wanaka. A great perspective of the Pisa Conservation Area and just how big it is.

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 parking in the carpark which is beside the main road.

8 km

6 minutes




Keep your eyes up after the river crossing and make sure you spot the DOC signage. There is one turn halfway up the ascent where it looks as though you could go right - keep to the grassy 4wd track and follow it around up to the left.

Generally good.

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 blanket, Cellphone, Map, Headtorch and spare batteries, Crampons / microspikes (for winter conditions)

No water at all really - unless streams are running after a good rain. Take all water to be safe.

Snow and ice will be present during winter and the tops may be difficult to traverse. Snow shoes maybe? After heavy rain the Cardrona River will also be too dangerous to cross.

The odd wild pig.

Urban Grind
Wanaka, Ardmore St
Great tapas style food, good beer and coffee.

Cardrona Hotel
Cardrona Valley
Simply a classic.

Trail Legend


Hadley Wick

has completed Little Criffel from the Larches twice in the last year.

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Trail Reviews

A very cool trail that is under-utilised compared to the more popular trails in the area. Be careful to look out for the doc markers at the start of the trail until you cross the river, then the trail is pretty easy to spot from there. Great views of Wanaka from the top!

Rachel Bridgewater

May 15, 2020

Great views from the top... but highly recommended to wear leg protection of some description, it's rather thorny on the way up and hard to fully dodge them on the track up.

Ian Gilmour

April 23, 2019

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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.

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