Last Updated: 27th Dec 2023


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I've done it Done

Mt Brown Bonanza

Hokitika, West Coast

Submitted by Tony Sharpe

Last Updated: 27th Dec 2023


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I've done it Done


Grunt Factor: 50 ?

Gnarl Factor: 75 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Back country - remote



Native bush



Open tussock/grasslands

Open ridges/tops

Run Makeup


Gravel Road

Technical Single Track

Untracked / Route only

Average Uphill Gradient: +15.4%

Average Downhill Gradient: -15.2%


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Estimated Times to Run







This one is for those adventurous types who like going steep in the bush and then getting the reward of the tops. If you are not familiar with the West Coast you may wish to try some other easier routes before tackling this one, but that's not to say its impossible for anyone with the right attitude and a love for steep tree rooty climbs.

The track starts nice and steadily from Geologist Creek and is well marked, and usually pretty well maintained. Before long things start getting steep and you'll spend the next few hours doing very little running and a great deal of walking and clambering up using all four limbs in true 'monkey mode'. The track is maintained by the local volunteer "Permolat' group and when you look around the dense West Coast bush surrounds you will be extremely thankful for their work, especially as you get nearer the bushline and into the scrub zone.

Eventually the trail gains a defined ridge as you near the bushline and you'll emerge into a tussock basin. Skirt a small hillock and clamber up the final few contour lines following the poled route and you'll find yourself at Mt Brown Hut. This hut was fully rebuilt from material down valley in the Arahura in the early 2010's by the local community with the support of DOC. Its a wonderful location and the hut has featured in many photos, calendars, and graces the cover of the marvellous Shelter From The Storm book by tramping legends Rob Brown, Shaun Barnett and Geoff Spearpoint. The views from the hut and surrounds are nothing short of magnificent.

Return route is to either retrace your steps the same way to Geologist Creek, or carry on down into the Styx Valley via the poled and marked Styx Route. This route is a little longer and more demanding than the way you have come up, but is a good option if you hate backtracking. Note however river crossings are required once down in the valley going this way, and it floods easily. If in any doubt with the weather then go down the Geologist Creek route.

If tackling the Styx route then follow the poles away from Mt Brown Hut until you regain the bush/ scrub. A large orange triangle marks the entrance and for a stretch its quite boggy and skirts the foot of a slip or two. The route can be a little sketchy so make sure you have the GPX with you. Its a steep descent down a spur with some forested terraces as you near the river. Once down follow the river, some wading required, and pick up an old 4WD track which will take you back to the main road. Complete the loop back to Geologist Creek on the road.

The Mt Brown Hut, which is a wonderful asset developed by the local community using local can do spirit

Small car parking area just off the road at the trail head at Geologist Creek

32 km

37 minutes




You'll need a map, gps and some good routefinding ability at times.


Waterproof leggings, Thermal leggings, Lightweight fleece top, Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Windproof jacket, Gloves, Beanie/thermal headwear, Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival bag, Cellphone, Compass, Map, Headtorch and spare batteries, Crampons / microspikes (for winter conditions), Gaiters

Being the West Coast there's quite a few creeks if its been raining. Water also at Mt Brown Hut, but you'll get through a bit so take a good sized hydration system!

Snow in winter, storms can suddenly develop quickly. Its the West Coast, be prepared for all eventualities

Styx River area can flood fast, avoid in heavy rain. Although I'm not sure any of the trip is that enjoyable in heavy rain so check the forecast!

Hokitika has a few good cafes and bars and restaurants

Trail Legend

Tony Hart

Tony Hart

has completed Mt Brown Bonanza twice in the last year.

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Trail Reviews

Such a great adventure! It's totally worth heading to the summit in clear weather for fantastic views of the back valleys (plus you'll bag the peak!) and with the summit added, the route came to 17.2 km and took me a bit under 5 hours. A lot of that time was spent slowly slipping and sliding my way down the descent! Your grippiest trail shoes are recommended! Also recommended is leg protection from all the foliage, I wore calf sleeves and gaiters but was wishing for full tights at times. As per the trail description you need to be alert on the descent to spot the trail markers (faded flagging tape and white rectangular strips bolted to the trees) but nowhere did I have any real difficulty. The Styx River was totally crossable in mid April, I managed fine solo, but river crossing skills are likely to be needed. It's pretty fast flowing, and I expect the previous reviewer found it high or in flood due to winter snowmelt.

Emily Oliver

April 18, 2022

Giving this stunning loop 5 stars even though not completed due to the Styx River which has either changed course recently or too easily floods in spring even after a few fine days. So I retreated back up to Brown Hut and exited via the normal trail. An unanticipated extra 1200m climb!! Luckily a relatively early start meant plenty of time for plan B. But next time I'd recommend anticlockwise (and maybe ring DOC first).

Mike McManaway

September 29, 2021

Good grief I can't believe no one has reviewed this! Honestly this is one of the finest visits to a hut that you can do. Must like vert though :)

Tony Sharpe

May 20, 2020

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