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Upper Clutha River Loop, Otago

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Upper Clutha River LoopBeginner

Submitted by Mal Law

Info Info
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Trail Information







Urban fringe


Undulating, small hills only

Native bush
Open farmlands


4:15 (Slow)
3:15 (Moderate)
2:15 (Fast)



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From the car park follow the gravelled trail towards the river. Soon you'll turn left and run parallel with the river (upstream). Continue on the grass strip alongside the road until you come to the main road (SH6)

Cross to the far side of the main road and run across the bridge on the wooden walkway. On the far side, re-cross the road and turn right on to the 4WD track through Albert Town Recreation Reserve, signposted to Hawea River Track. After about 1.5k you'll reach the camp ground where you bear right on the 4WD track and cut across the campground to the swing-bridge.

Cross the bridge (taking time to appreciate the clarity of the water and the views beyond). Almost immediately you turn right on to Newcastle Track. In another 600m you'll reach a junction with Butterfield Wetland Walk - continue straight on here following the signs to Kane Rd car park (11.5k away)

The route is now a mix of flat and gently undulating trail alongside and a little above the Clutha River, which you follow all the way to the Kane Rd car park, by which time you'll have covered 15k. Go straight through the car park and turn right on to the main road for a fast 1k downhill to the iconic Red Bridge. Cross this with care (it's narrow and not all cars are considerate of runners) and head up the far side a few hundred metres to the junction with Shortcut Rd.

At this junction head right on a gravel track, signposted to Shortcut Road car park and Albert Town. Once again, go straight through the car park (good info signs here) and follow the trail upstream through Reko's Point Conservation Area.

Pretty soon you'll start to realise that this side of the river is going to hurt your tired legs a little more than the other side. You're trending uphill and the undulations are a bit more significant, but all the way the views of the river and the mountains beyond are awesome.

Stay on the river trail for about 12k until you come to Pawson's Crossing - a footbridge across the Cardrona River just above where it joins the Clutha. After crossing, follow the trail to the right and run the last few hundred metres back to your car.

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Features of interest

Glorious riverside running, the Hawea swing bridge and the 100-year old 'Red Bridge' that crosses the Clutha half way through the run (it's a road bridge but pretty cool and iconic nonetheless)

Make Up of Run

Easy Single Track: 85%

Farm Road / 4WD Track: 10%

Sealed Road: 5%

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


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  • Access

    This is a loop trail with lots of access points. Other possible start/finish points include Hawea Swingbridge, Kane Rd car park and Shortcut Rd car park.
    This guide describes the route running in a clockwise direction from the car park just to the south of Albert Town. Doing it this way gets the least interesting bit out of the way early on while your legs are fresh.
    Turn off SH6 on the Wanaka side of the Clutha river on to Kingston St, then take 3rd right on to Kinnibeg St (signposted Upper Clutha River Track.) Follow the signed gravel road to the left that leads to the car park. A nice shaded spot if running in summer.

    The car park isn't huge but neither is it particularly well used, so space is never really an issue. No known security issues. No toilet.

    7 km

    10 minutes



  • Staying Safe


    Make navigation of this route super-easy by using the Capra app on your phone. View on Capra .

    This is a well signposted route that shouldn't present any problems

    Generally good.

    Short-sleeved thermal top, Windproof jacket, Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Cellphone, Map.

    There is NO safe drinking water on the route so take it all with you. If running on a hot day I'd suggest a min of 2L.

    The trail can be icy in winter and brutally hot in summer. Go prepared.

    This is a dual use track so watch out for mountain bikers. Also take care on crossing the Red Bridge, which is narrow and used by lots of wide vehicles.

  • Post run indulgence

    Federal Diner
    47 Helwick Street, Wanaka
    Best coffee in town and great food.

    Kai Whaka Pai
    Cnr Helwick & Ardmore St, Wanaka
    Relaxed atmosphere, decent food and a good selection of craft beers. Sitting outside Kai on a summer's afternoon after a long run is a local tradition.

  • Sponsor this trail

    If you are interested in learning about sponsorship opportunities, please get in touch below:


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