Dart River Hike - Mount Aspiring National Park

  • 26 December 2019
  • Celia Hay

Dart River Hike 

Celia Hay and Alice Hay Dart River Track

Three days hiking along the Dart River at the side of Mount Earnslaw at the head of Lake Wakatipu. Beautiful, daunting in places - clambering over beech tree roots and numerous river crossing of the tributaries that flow into the great river and enormously satisfying especially to tough it out with my 16 year old daughter, Alice over the 48 km.

Heavy rain and snow the night before resulted in numerous beautiful waterfalls to view and sometimes, we had to walk under them and have an alpine shower.

Map of Dart River
Map of the Dart River - Rees Track

Morning rain over Surveyors Flat Track winds through the Beech Forest  alongside the Dart River

 Two Rainbows across Daley's Flat
Stormy Clouds and two rainbows on the first night when we reached Daley's Flat Hut. Looking up the river towards Mount Ian and the Dart Glacier.

Day Two

Early morning looking out from Daley's Hut towards Mount Lydia and Mount Ian. You can see the mist and frost over the grasslands where we will soon walk along the Dart River.

Breakfast on the Dart River
Eggs in Vogel's Bread and some rashes of bacon is our standard energy loaded breakfast...while the eggs last. At Daley's Hut.

With the Rees River Road blocked by a slip, we opted to stay two nights at the Daley's Flat Hut. On Day two, we walked (without backpacks) for around 3 hours toward the Dart River Hut, had lunch at the large grasslands of Cattle Flat and then returned to Daley's. It was a crystal clear, alpine day, still brisk at 10 - 14C.

River crossing
River crossing

Looking north-east up the Dart River and along Cattle Flat.

The Dart Hut is about 4 hours walk from this point. 

Day Three

Walking back to Sandy Bluff
Magnificent view of the Dart walking back through the forest to Chinaman's Bluff.

Walking back southwards along the Dart River towards Sandy Bluff (the bush headland) opposite the shingle scree.

Beech Tree Root Track
Beech tree roots to clamber over when the track is not well-formed. The small orange triangle shows you that you are on the right path!

The track outline alerts us to narrow and sometime step sections requiring 'a higher level of backcountry skills than before'. In fact the root-walking forces you to consider each step forward so that you do not loose your balance or get tripped up by a tenacious tree root. 

South Island Robin

A friendly Toutouwai - South Island Robin comes to investigate as we take a rest from the tangled beech tree roots. The birdlife was flourishing and we could hear and see Rifleman - Titipounamu,  FantailPīwakawaka and Bellbird - Korimako

Lace Fern

Lace Fern - leptolepia novae-zelandiae (I think), shiny, smooth with delicate fronds and a long finish, numbing finish after nibbling on the tips. According to Hugh Wilson, this is the only member of a genus endemic to New Zealand.

Waterfall cliff - Dart River


Moss Bank - Dart River

Take a closer look at this luxurious cliff side of native mosses and lichens. The most common moss in New Zealand is Hypnum Cupressiforme - a moss with the form of a cypress. It is native to most of New Zealand and temperate regions around the world. (Wilson 2013).

Early morning on day two, looking towards Mount Ian, covered in fresh snow.

Share this post

Leave a comment


Email address

This is never shown to the public.