Last Updated: 27th Nov 2023

Intermediate - Experienced

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I've done it Done

Hollyford Road - Routeburn Loop via Deadmans and Pass Creek

Te Anau, Southland

Submitted by Sierra Alef-Defoe

Last Updated: 27th Nov 2023

Intermediate - Experienced

Save Trail Save

I've done it Done


Grunt Factor: 47 ?

Gnarl Factor: 38 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Back country - remote


Very hilly

Native bush

Open ridges/tops

Run Makeup


Gravel Road

Easy Single Track

Moderate Single Track

Technical Single Track

Average Uphill Gradient: +13.9%

Average Downhill Gradient: -13.8%


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Estimated Times to Run







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.

Note: No dogs allowed as it's in Fiordland National Park.

Earland Falls.

There's a small space to park on the side of the road at either trailhead.

90 km

75 minutes




The tracks are generally well maintained by DOC with signage and orange arrows, but it's always advisable to have an offiline topo app that you can check.


Windproof jacket, Gloves, Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Cellphone, Map, Headtorch and spare batteries

The track crosses streams fairly regularly; there is also a tank at Mackenzie hut (as well as running water from the taps October-April).

Snow, ice, and avalanche conditions are a consideration on the Routeburn in winter and spring. Deadmans and Pass Creek could become tricky during or after a storm with slips and treefall.

Trail Legend

Crystal Brindle

Crystal Brindle

has completed Hollyford Road - Routeburn Loop via Deadmans and Pass Creek once in the last year.

Learn about Trail Legends.

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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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