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Painkiller Devil's Tail loop, West Coast

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Painkiller Devil's Tail loopIntermediate - Experienced

Submitted by Brent Oldham

Info Info
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Trail Information





West Coast


Front country - easily accessible


Undulating, small hills only

Native bush

Intermediate - Experienced

4 (Slow)
3 (Moderate)
2.5 (Fast)



The Painkiller track (8k) is very wet, slippery and technical. You WILL get wet, however probably best to go UP the PainKiller than come down it! Trail is washed away in parts and you will need to follow pink markers across a deep creek washout and again, near the top, a big slip.

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This is a lumpy, muddy, wet and slippery challenge. Be prepared for washouts, wet feet and some minor navigation. Don't be tempted to run this clockwise and, if possible, take a friend or a PLB. Painkiller is best tackled uphill as potential for a major tumble going downhill is very real. 

Just before the Waitahu River bridge (travelling from Reefton) turn right. 200m on left is a wooden gate entry to a new road/track. Follow this for about 1km, then turn right up a steep rocky roadway, 300m on the left is a goldpan on a marker with "Painkiller Track" on it. The trail is quite clear to follow, except for the two washouts. For the first (a creek), drop down to the creek then head upstream maybe 10 metres, then climb up to find the track. The second is a small slip. Follow the pink tape downhill, across the slip, and then back up to the track.

Once through the Painkiller, you'll hit the Inglewood intersection (just above the clearing with an old steam boiler). Head straight/left NOT right here. There is another sign (about 2k from the intersection) labelled "Devils Tail" that points up hill. Ignore it and continue downhill. Cross the swingbridge, turn left and follow the logging road back to Gannons Creek Bridge and your start point.

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Features of interest

These are two old gold mining access roads that lead to the Inglewood Junction (with alternative exits to Blacks Point via the Machine Track).

Make Up of Run

Untracked / Route only: 0%

Technical Single Track: 40%

Moderate Single Track: 30%

Easy Single Track: 0%

Farm Road / 4WD Track: 10%

Gravel Road: 20%

Sealed Road: 0%

Route Data


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Wild Explorers

I did it!
  • Access

    Down Gannons Road just north of Reefton. Park where you can close to the Waitahu River bridge.

    Plenty of spots to park.

    8 km

    9 minutes



  • Staying Safe


    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, Cellphone, Map, Headtorch and spare batteries.

    No real water points except near the start/finish - so carry enough for 3-4 hours

    Possible snow falls in winter, but will be wet underfoot year round.

    Manuka stumps for the first climb, moss and tree roots until you get to Inglewood

  • Post run indulgence

    Broadway Tea Rooms
    31 Broadway, Reefton
    Local bakery with good food and coffee

    Berlins Cafe
    Lower Buller Gorge, 30k from Westport

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