Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023

Intermediate - Experienced

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Copland Hot Pools Splash'n'Dash

Fox Glacier, West Coast

Submitted by Mike Steel

Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023

Intermediate - Experienced

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I've done it Done


Grunt Factor: 57

Gnarl Factor: 62








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Back country - remote

Out and Back

Undulating, small hills only

Native bush



Run Makeup


Moderate Single Track

Technical Single Track

Average Uphill Gradient: +7.5%

Average Downhill Gradient: -7.5%


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Estimated Times to Run







If you're near Fox glacier, it's a pleasant in-and-back run up to the Copland hotpools which are delightful natural thermal pools by a hut nestled under the imposing steep and glaciated mountains near Mt Sefton.

From the carpark, follow a well-marked track the whole way, mostly through bush on the left side (true right) of the Karangarua and then Copland rivers, with several crossings of side streams (some bridged if needed), which is runnable for most of the year, except after/during heavy rain. There is a small hut at roughly half way (Architect Creek hut just off the trail).

The track steepens further upvalley before descending slightly and then arriving at the spacious Welcome Flat hut. Two minutes from the hut is the cluster of hot, bubbly, soft-bottomed pools with a stream nearby to cool off in, well worth spending some time soaking in and admiring the views. Depending on the season you're likely to have the hot pools to yourself (since most trampers will be heading out or heading in) though you might still want to pack a tiny pair of togs/bikini/whatever in your running kit in case it's more busy. Sunhat, sunglasses and insect repellent might also enhance the experience. Further up-valley the trail leads to Douglas Rock hut, and beyond that it becomes an alpine route as it winds its way up to the famous Copland Pass on the main divide. Once you've blissed out enough in the hot pools head back the way you came - it's a bit easier and faster being mostly downhill.

The hot pools are perhaps the best in NZ. The views of the Sierra Range from there add to the experience.

Plenty of parking, and not visible from the highway.

26 km

21 minutes




Well-marked track the whole way


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

Plenty of water in side-streams and at the hut

Track can become impassable after heavy rain.

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Trail Reviews

This is a stunning trail! I walked in with a pack full of supplies for the hut warden then ran out the next day - beautiful scenery, loads of birdlife, lovely mix of smooth and technical trail, plenty of icy swimming spots and the best hot pools. Highly recommended.

Katie Smith

January 16, 2021

This is the best trail run Ive ever done it has everything, views, technical trail, easy trail, swing bridges. Wow!

Sam McEwan

June 30, 2020

Brilliant trail and scenery. Really enjoyed this one. A bit slippery at the end of May on wet rocks that receive no sunlight for a chunk of the year. I did think the suggested times are a bit optimistic. Normally for Wild Things runs I am somewhere between the elite and intermediate times, but this trail took me 4hrs 45 mins. It would be faster in dry conditions, but my suggested times would be:Elite: 4hrsIntermediate: 5-5.5hrsNovice: 7hrs (as suggested)

Daniel Parkinson

June 1, 2020

Magnificent mountain vistas, rainforest teeming with native birds, milky blue rivers, and the best hot pools I've ever experienced. Trail is good quality, some sections almost Great Walk-esque, some a bit more boldery and rooty. Major river crossings bridged, but the usually small side creeks can rise rapidly so not one to do in wet weather.

Catriona McWhirter

April 23, 2019

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