Last Updated: 24th Mar 2024

Beginner - Intermediate

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Kelly Tops

Arthurs Pass, West Coast

Submitted by Katie Smith

Last Updated: 24th Mar 2024

Beginner - Intermediate

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I've done it Done


Grunt Factor: 36 ?

Gnarl Factor: 83 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Front country - easily accessible


Very hilly

Native bush

Open tussock/grasslands

Open ridges/tops

Run Makeup


Moderate Single Track

Technical Single Track

Untracked / Route only

Average Uphill Gradient: +21.2%

Average Downhill Gradient: -19.2%


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Estimated Times to Run







This is an out-and-back run with a small loop around the tops to take in the best views. Start from the carpark following signs to Carroll Hut (not up Hunts Creek). You hop across a side creek flowing into the Kelly River early on, then follow its spur up, up and up. The climb is fairly constant, steepening in the middle before some slight respite as you break out of the bush and sidle around above the head of a creek. Have a look at the waterfall here.

The track then pops up into tussock shortly before you reach Carroll Hut. From here the track becomes a poled route climbing up between tarns. Kelly Hill with its radio tower is visible on the right. The track heads left instead onto the main Kelly Range. Above the hut the gradient is much more runnable. Eventually you crest the top just below point 1385 and can see two tarns (the third and fourth are initially hidden). The poled route continues on the right, but instead cut down the bench between the two large tarns. Go around the one on the left, aiming for the ridge edge which looks down into Kelleys Creek. You can see Carroll Hut from here. Climb back along this edge aiming again for point 1385, then when you see the poled route you came up head back down to join it. From here follow the track back the way you came.

Stunning views, keas, flowering alpine plants, great rata in the right season

If you know of any public toilets near the trail start or on the route, please login and then let us know so we can update this section.

Plenty of parking - don't leave valuables in the car though.

17 km

18 minutes




If not confident with the untracked loop portion described, stay on the track for an out-and-back


Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Beanie/thermal headwear, Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Cellphone, Map

Water available from several creeks and tarns, and from Carroll Hut

Very exposed on the tops, can be cold even in summer. Expect snow through the winter.

Trail Legend

Kane Aitken

Kane Aitken

has completed Kelly Tops once in the last year.

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Trail Reviews

Great track. Nice tarns to camp too. Added Kelly hill too for some stunning views of Mt Alexander. .

Sia Svendsen

May 22, 2021

True very on the way up that's for sure!

Tony Sharpe

May 11, 2019

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