Fern Burn Hut, Motatapu Track

A lovely new hut on a challenging yet beautiful track.

Location: Near Wānaka – track starts near Glendu Bay, west of the township.

Access: This a beautiful 7.5km track, gaining 400-500m (with undulations) through farmland, red beech forest, and alpine tussock. Took us 5.5hrs in (including lunch and some other long stops) and 4hrs out (only stopped for lunch really).

It’s really important to be aware that there is some serious exposure on this tramp for kids. Everyone has their own danger threshold and some parents wouldn’t blink an eyelid at this trip. I’m not an anxious parent but I’m pretty experienced in the outdoors and I felt uncomfortable for quite a fair amount of this tramp. The track is pretty narrow in the bush and if you slipped there often isn’t a lot stopping you from falling 20m into the river. Adults would probably be fine, kids might not be. Once out of the bush, the track sidles through the tussock for a couple of kilometres. For much of it there is nothing but tussock for about 200m down to the river. Experienced trampers will know how dangerous a slip on tussock can be (NB: someone has died on this track when this happened 🙁 ). I’m not intending to put anyone off, just letting people know in advance because it may not be apparent from other track/hut information. Obviously anyone can trip and fall at any age but this probably isn’t the sort of route you want to take your wobbly three year old or your inattentive 6 year old. More for a toddler in a backpack, or for older kids who understand the importance of not mucking around and taking their time on exposed bits. Or for parents who don’t seem to get worried about these sorts of things 🙂

Hut: Standard 12 bunk hut – no fire. Very new, clean and tidy when we visited. The creek outside is lovely for kids to play.

NB: On Te Araroa so can be busy during summer. The track is also very popular with day walkers, runners, and trampers but we were pleasantly surprised it wasn’t full on a long weekend. Plenty of room to camp outside and deck space as well. The bunks are platform style so easy to squish up if you need to.


Visited by: Orchiston-Pinel and Clark families, Oct 2020.