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Kawhaka Magic, West Coast

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Kawhaka MagicBeginner

Submitted by Katie Smith

Info Info
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Trail Information





West Coast


Front country - easily accessible


Totally/mostly flat

Native bush


1:00 (Slow)
0:45 (Moderate)
0:35 (Fast)



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This is a nice cruise of a run on well-surfaced 4WD tracks or gravel road, though you shouldn't see any traffic apart from possibly cyclists.

Park by the dam just after the turn-off from the Old Christchurch Road. Set off along the cycle trail/gravel road beside the water race. This section is completely flat with nice open views of Mt Turiwhate and the Southern Alps. After about 3.5km you get to a grid walkway above a weir - cross over then follow the track hard left (don't climb the stairs unless you are whio-hunting). This climbs up to a junction, with the cycleway signposted to the right - take the left track instead.

This wends its way back through thick native bush with a few small undulations. Shortly after you pass a locked barrier you will meet the Old Christchurch Road. Turn left here, taking care of traffic, and run for 300m before taking the first right-hand turn. This takes you a short distance along Kawhaka water race to add an extra 1km to the run. Where the track splits at the dam bank ignore the right-hand fork that drops down - instead cross the bank and bear back to the left on the other side of the water race. This brings you out opposite the start - cross the Old Christchurch Road again and run the last 100m to the car. This run can be extended by taking the righthand track at the turn-around point by the weir - head as far along the cycle trail as you feel like before returning the same way. The pool you park by is great for a swim in summer.

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Features of interest

Look out for blue duck just above or below the weir near the turnaround point - they are frequently spotted here. The water race and its pools gives beautiful reflection views, and if you look carefully you'll spot trout.

Make Up of Run

Farm Road / 4WD Track: 50%

Gravel Road: 50%

Route Data


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  • Access

    Turn off the Old Christchurch Road (a gravel bypass between Arthurs Pass and Hokitika) at Kawhaka Creek - you will see an orange West Coast Wilderness cycle trail sign just by the small bridge. Go over the cattle grid and park by the dam.

    No public transport, no set carpark but plenty of safe parking off the gravel road.

    16 km

    16 minutes



  • Staying Safe


    Very patchy.

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

    Water from the race is drinkable throughout its length

    Runnable all year round, and relatively sheltered

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