Travers Sabine Circuit

Activities > Back Country Walks > Travers Sabine Circuit

Travers Sabine

The Travers Sabine is a challenging 5 day journey through some of the most spectacular country that the Nelson Lakes has to offer. Ancient beech fo rests cloak even older glacial valleys. Large scree slopes surround us in the upper basins of the valleys, and as we gradually climb to the pinnacle of the walk, at 1800 metres, the Travers Saddle offers us breath-taking views, east into the Travers Valley, and west into the Sabine Valley.

This hike is designed for guests who have a good level of fitness, and have experienced multi-day walks before. More challenging than the Heaphy Track and Abel Tasman Coastal Track, the Travers Sabine has sections that follow a ‘poled’ route over rocky terrain, rather than constantly following a formed track.

While the walk is challenging, it offers a unique opportunity to travel into the Southern Alps in relative comfort. With guides leading the way and carrying the bulk of the food and equipment, we can relax with a relatively light pack; all our meals organised and cooked, and our guide is on hand to bring our surroundings to life!


DAY 1 –

Lakehead to John Tait Hut  (5 hours) 

We are picked up in Nelson, and transfered to St Arnaud and Nelson Lakes National Park. The briefing and final gear check is done the night before departure, so that we can get underway in good time. A water taxi will transfer us to the southern end of Lake Rotoiti, and we begin walking up the river flats of the lower Travers Valley. We follow the track through forest and clearings, until reaching the Travers Swing Bridge.

The valley soon narrows with glimpses of Mt Travers, as the track nears Hopeless Creek. The track gradually climbs through beech forest, until John Tait Hut (30 bunks) is reached on a grassy clearing.

DAY 2 –

John Tait Hut to Travers Hut (4 hours)

The track continues to climb for 1 km, until we pass a sidetrack to the Travers Falls. The 20 metre falls drop into a sparkling clear pool, and are well worth a visit. From the falls, we continue onward towards our destination – the 30-bunk Upper Travers Hut. The track climbs steeply to Cupola Creek chasm, leaving the river in its gorge below. Finally we emerge from the trees on to an extensive, tussock-covered flat, where Upper Travers Hut nestles beneath the east face of Mt. Travers.

DAY 3 –

Upper Travers Hut to West Sabine Hut (6-9 hours)

Travers Saddle is an alpine pass, and today we cross this stunning divide. We cross the Travers River near the hut and follow the snow poles through dense alpine shrubs. Leaving the boulder-strewn valley, the route steepens and zigzags up a scree slope, before continuing more gently to the saddle with panoramic views.

From the saddle (1787m), the descent is steep, crossing tussock and scree, through stunted beech forest before emerging into an avalanche gully. Finally we descend to the East Sabine valley floor, and head to its junction with the west branch, where West Sabine Hut is located.

DAY 4 –

Rest Day or Optional Side Walk to Blue Lake (7 hours)

This is a worthwhile day walk from the main circuit. Head upstream from the West Sabine swing bridge. After two hours, the valley broadens and the track passes through forest destroyed by an avalanche in 1980. We climb steeply in two stages to a high basin containing the enchanting Blue Lake. As we return to West Sabine Hut the same evening, this walk can be completed with a light day pack.

DAY 5 –

West Sabine Hut to Sabine Hut (5 hours)

Our final leg! Crossing the West Sabine River on a swing bridge, we turn and follow its true left bank. The track sidles down the valley following the river and crosses three long, open flats. We leave the river behind where it enters a gorge in the lower valley, climbing then descending to rejoin it just 40 minutes of easy walking from the Sabine Hut. Located on the edge of Lake Rotoroa, this is the end of our walk, and from here we are collected by water taxi to transfer down the lake, where our van will be waiting to transport us back to Nelson.

PLEASE NOTE: This trek is for fit trampers – age is no barrier but it is a challenging five-day walk. 

Environmental Issues in the Travers Sabine -

Many of New Zealand's bird species are threatened by predators. Clients who hike the Travers Sabine are contributing in a small but significant way to supporting the habitat of the whio (blue duck).

Photos courtesy Southern Wilderness NZ

Contact us
Itrek Customer Service
Tel: +64 21 268 8879
NZ local time is 06:53 AM
Key information

Location: Northern South Island in St. Arnaud and Nelson Lakes National Parks

Track open: Late Oct - April

Trek dates: 2011 Dec 13th  / 2012  Jan 9th: Feb 14th &28th March 27th :

Duration: 5 days and 4 nights

Group size: Minimium of 4 required

Grade: Good level of fitness  required

Accommodation: Basic but comfortable Department of Conservation huts shared with others

Luggage: Carry own  pack including a small amount of food

Meals: All meals provided

Price $1695

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