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Hollyford Road - Routeburn Loop via Deadmans and Pass Creek, Southland

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Hollyford Road - Routeburn Loop via Deadmans and Pass CreekIntermediate - Experienced

Submitted by Sierra Alef-Defoe

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Trail Information






Te Anau

Back country - remote


Very hilly

Native bush
Open ridges/tops

Intermediate - Experienced

7 (Slow)
6 (Moderate)
5 (Fast)



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Looping the Routeburn & Hollyford Road adds a little variety for runners who do the Routeburn frequently and makes use of some lovely but less-traveled forest tracks; Deadmans & Pass Creek. Being a loop, it also offers logistical simplicity!

This loop can be started with either Deadmans or Pass Creek, but it's a good idea to park at Pass Creek and start up Deadmans, so that you get the 5 km run on the Hollyford Road out of the way at the beginning.Pass Creek is also earlier on the Hollyford Road so petrol-wise it makes more sense to leave a vehicle there.

Start with a 5 km run down the gravel road, passing the old Gunns Camp, until you see the sign for Deadmans track on the right. Deadmans is a steep uphill on a forest trail. This track is prone to treefall, but has generally been maintained well enough that there's nothing too tricky to get around. While the DOC sign says 5 hours one-way, that's more of a round-trip time estimate.

When you cross the streams, you're getting close to the Routeburn! Coming onto the Great Walk after this bush bash-y track feels like getting on a highway. Turn right. You'll emerge on a section of the Routeburn that is mostly quite run-able, a few KMs of sidling on well-formed track. There are a few streams where you can fill water along this section.

Then the track zig-zags down to Lake Mackenzie. Mackenzie Hut is a lovely place to have a break, take a dip in the lake, refill water, & use the toilet. Then continue on towards the old Howden Hut site.

The most remarkable part of this section is Earland Falls, where you can expect to feel some mist from quite a distance away.

At the old site of Howden Hut, look for the sign for Pass Creek track (right next to where the track splits to Key Summit & the Divide).

Now you're leaving the Routeburn Highway again, but you're nearly done: the DOC estimate of 2 hours for this track one-way is also a stretch. As this track is rarely used, expect some spiderwebs and treefall. But it's mostly less steep than Deadmans, and definitely shorter.

Then pop out of the bush to the Hollyford Road.

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Features of interest

Earland Falls.

Make Up of Run

Technical Single Track: 20%

Moderate Single Track: 15%

Easy Single Track: 50%

Gravel 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

The Routeburn

The Routeburn

Length: 32.00km


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