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Blue Ducks & Cecil King's Hut , Tasman

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Blue Ducks & Cecil King's Hut Beginner - Intermediate

Submitted by Sarah Biss

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Trail Information





Tasman and Nelson


Back country - remote

Out and Back

Undulating, small hills only

Native bush

Beginner - Intermediate

5:00 (Slow)
3:15 (Moderate)
2:15 (Fast)



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Starting at the Rolling River car park, follow the track, which soon takes you over a swing bridge. Much of the track follows the river edge, or above it, along easily run-able trails through native bush. The river is beautiful, with a mixture of rapids, large boulders and inviting swimming holes. The trail is undulating, nothing too serious in terms of ascent. Keep going until you get to Cecil King's Hut, enjoy the hut, then return the way you came.

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Features of interest

The 59km long Wangapeka Track goes all the way to Karamea (not on this particular run though, you turn around before then). The track was built after gold was discovered in the Wangapeka Valley in 1859.

For this particular route, you run along the river valley to the historic and distinctive-looking Cecil King's Hut (details below), and back again.

Keep an eye out for blue ducks as the Wangapeka Track runs through one of eight DOC sites nationwide to secure the survival of this endangered species.

From the DOC brochure:

The 1929 Murchison earthquake caused severe damage to sections of the Wangapeka Track and totally destroyed the Mt Zetland route on the western side of the Little Wanganui Saddle. These sections were rebuilt during the 1930s depression when the government introduced a gold mining subsidy scheme for unemployed men.

Cecil King's Hut is a relic of this time. King built the wooden slab hut in 1935. He lived in Lower Hutt and after his retirement in the 1960s, spent every summer fossicking there until 1981. He died in 1982 at 78 and his family spread his ashes around the hut. After initial restoration work in 1991 the department continues to maintain the hut to preserve its historic values.

The area contains some of the oldest rocks in the country and a wide variety, including granite, sandstone and limestone.

Make Up of Run

Technical Single Track: 20%

Moderate Single Track: 30%

Easy Single Track: 50%

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

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  • Access

    From Tapawera (62km from Nelson), follow the signposts west to the Wangapeka Valley. At the Dart River is a concrete ford. The ford can become impassable after heavy rain. After crossing the ford continue 7 kilometres up the valley to Prices Clearing where there is an intentions book. The track starts one kilometre further on at the Rolling River Carpark. The road from Tapawera is gravel, and is possible in a 2WD although is much better suited to 4WD, or a 2WD you don't care about very much! There are many small concrete river fords to cross (other than the Dart ford) which do not suit a car with lowish carriage.

    Good parking.

    30 km

    38 minutes



  • Staying Safe


    Less than a few hundred metres you will arrive at Kings Creek Hut, this isn't Cecil Kings Hut (it's far newer), keep going past here, until you reach the distinctive Cecil King's Hut.

    Very patchy.

    Thermal leggings, 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 bag, Cellphone, Map, Headtorch and spare batteries.

    There is no drinking water on route, take your own.

    Avoid if there has been heavy rain, or about to be heavy run further up the river valley - as you may not be able to drive all the way in, or all the way out! The Dart Ford in particular can become impassable after heavy rain.

    Mozzies. Take repellent. Plus flooding as above.

  • Post run indulgence

    Kohatu Flat Rock Cafe
    5087 Motueka Valley Highway
    It is the only cafe within the vicinity of Tapawera (5-10 minute drive out of Tapawera on the way back to Nelson).

  • Blog Posts and Articles
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