Lake Matiri Track gives access to Lake Matiri, a small lake formed by a landslide 300 years ago, in the Matiri Valley north of Murchison. Lake Matiri Hut sits above the lake and is an easy option for an overnight tramp. Note that this track requires good weather conditions as it involves several unbridged river crossings which are impassable after rain.
Lake Matiri Track gives access to Thousand Acre Pleteau (Poor Pete’s Hut and Larrikin Creek Hut) and the upper Matiri Valley (McConchies Hut and Hurricane Hut).
Turn onto Matiri Valley Road off State Highway 6, 106 km southwest of Nelson and 6 km north of Murchison (see Access tab above). The track start is 16 km up Matiri Valley Road, the latter being unsealed for most of the distance up the valley. The road passes working farms so be careful of people and livestock. The road is suitable for 2WD vehicles though you will feel more comfortable in a 4WD.
Lake Matiri Track does not enter Kahurangi National Park; the national park boundary lies just north of Lake Matiri, while lake itself and the forest immediately south of it are protected in Matiri Conservation Area.
No dogs or mountain-biking are permitted.
The track begins as a 4WD farm road, passing farmland over river flats, on the true right of the Matiri River. After 3 km the track reaches the granite riverbed of Matiri River West Branch. There is no bridge here so you will need to ford the river; take extreme care as you do so. Under no circumstances should you attempt to cross if the river is any higher than baseflow. The 4WD road switches to a walking track on the other side of the river, and a few hundred metres along there is an emergency shelter intended for trampers returning to the road end who cannot continue due to the river being swollen.
Further upstream you will pass an old gate with a sign informing you that you’re entering Matiri Forest (now called Matiri Conservation Area), right before a bend in the river where the river has cut into the opposing bank, triggering a large landslide at some point in the past. You will need to boulder hop your away around the outside of the bend. Note that this section is impassable when the river has risen following rain.The track enters mossy beech forest and climbs over the wide deposit of the landslide that was the cause of Lake Matiri’s formation. From here it is a short distance to the hut.
Lake Matiri Hut is perched on the western hillside above the lake. The hut is a standard hut (8 bunks, woodburner), and bookings are not required but you will need one standard hut ticket to be deposited in the honesty box in the hut. Trees have been cleared below the hut, allowing for a good view north across the lake and up Matiri Valley.
Beyond Lake Matiri
The track continues along the western edge of Lake Matiri. At the northern end of the lake, after crossing Bay Creek, the track forks. You can take the left fork onto 1,000 Acres Track, which climbs a spur to the tussocklands of Matiri Range, and Poor Pete’s Hut (Basic Hut, 2 Bunks, 3 hr away). Taking the right fork will take you up Matiri Valley Track, which follows Matiri River northward on the valley floor to McConchies Hut (Standard Hut, 4 bunks, 5 hr away).