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Canaan to Birds Clearing, Tasman

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Canaan to Birds ClearingIntermediate - Experienced

Submitted by Stu Houston

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Trail Information





Tasman and Nelson


Back country - remote

Point to Point (one way)

Undulating, some big hills

Native bush

Intermediate - Experienced

3:00 (Slow)
2:15 (Moderate)
1:30 (Fast)



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This is a point to point so is best if someone drops you off at Harwoods Hole Carpark then drives around and up to Birds Clearing to pick you up. Or to make it easier on the driver and to add 9 km of long downhill to the runner you could arrange to meet at Pohara Beach for a swim !! If you've never been to Harwoods Hole itself its worth the 6 km detour before you start as it is the deepest hole in the Southern Hemisphere and you could put the Empire State Building in it and still have 100 metres to fall to its roof !!!

Follow the well marked DOC mountain bike/walking track out of the carpark north on the Moa Park Track which gently climbs to Pages Saddle, where you turn left onto the Wanui Track. The track turns into a rough trail but is well marked and easy to follow.

After 2 kms you come to the cute Wainui Hut beside the river. There is also a large aviary here used as part of Project Janzoon to house Kaka and Kakariki and various other species pre-release into the wild (check out details on Project Janzoon website for more info). From here skip or splash across the river to continue on down the valley and at the junction of Inland Track detour carry on down the Wainui track where you will again cross the Wainui River (this is the last place for water so fill up here).

The track now climbs up onto the Pikikiruna Range and follows it down till you break out onto the Birds Clearing with stunning views out over Golden Bay. There is a small grassy area with a small DOC kiosk - this is the official end of the track and from here out is a grass road at first, then a gravel road that drops 500 metres down to the village of Clifton. It pays for the driver to be really clear on where to go as the access to the track isn't easy to find with no signs on main road in Clifton, but its an adventure for both the driver and the runner. 

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Features of interest

Sink holes, native bush and riverside. This is a fabulous little run with a bit of easy mixed with technical and river and bush scenery in a remote part of Abel Tasman National Park.

Make Up of Run

Technical Single Track: 60%

Moderate Single Track: 20%

Farm Road / 4WD Track: 20%

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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Wild Explorers

I did it!
  • Access

    Start is at the Harwoods Hole Carpark In Abel Tasman National Park. Turn Off the Takaka Hill Highway near the top onto the gravel Canaan Downs Road to Harwoods Hole.

    There is plenty of parking at the Harwoods Hole Carpark and it is a lovely Little DOC Campground.

    33 km

    57 minutes



  • Staying Safe


    Take a good topo map of the area. It's reasonably straightforward track to follow but a map is essential.

    Very patchy.

    Lightweight fleece top, Short-sleeved thermal top, Windproof jacket, Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival bag, Cellphone, Map.

    Over the last 5 kms there is no water so fill up at last crossing of the Wainui River

    Beware after heavy rain as the Wainui river can be too high to cross. It can get very cold on this trail any time of year as it is up at 800 metres at Birds Clearing and is very exposed. It can also get very hot !!

    The track is very rooty and technical in places and can get very slippery after rain.

  • Post run indulgence

    Wholemeal Cafe
    Golden Bay institution

  • Sponsor this trail

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


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