This overnight backpacking trip in the New Zealand Wilderness offers hut accommodations and scenic lake, sunset, and jagged peak views.

The common route to Boulder Lake - via Brown Cow Ridge - begins at a small and slightly obscure trailhead near the town of Bainham which is approximately a 20 minute drive from the coastal town of Collingwood in the Tasman region. The trailhead only accommodates parking for perhaps two vehicles - but this shouldn't be a problem due to its limited visitation. The first 5 km (3 miles) of the trail is a wide track that leads into native forest. The trail then becomes more narrow and remains in the trees as it climbs in elevation. Most of this trail provides little views and can get tiresome after awhile. But, once you reach bushline the views are truly phenomenal. Hang in there!

From Brown Cow Saddle, the trail sidles along steep scree and becomes a route marked only by orange poles. These are easy enough to follow and soon lead back to a trail that descends to Boulder Lake. The view from this section of the trail above the lake is the best on the trip so be sure to take the time to soak it in. The peaks in the distance are the famed Dragons Teeth and provide a wonderful background for the lake cirque.

The trail descends to the lake and then travels directly on the lake shore around to the hut on the far side. Look for the orange triangles that mark the route and when in doubt stick to the shoreline. On my visit I enjoyed complete solitude at the hut but be aware that there may be others whom you share the quarters with. Camping is allowed anywhere around the hut where you can find a flat place among the tussock. The hut (8 bunks) is considered standard and only requires one backcountry hut ticket worth $5 NZD. There is a lovely waterfall near the hut that serves as a drinking water source.

Pack List

  • Sleeping bag
  • Backpack
  • Warm layers
  • Camera
  • NZ Topo map (Gouland Downs)
  • Hut ticket – purchased at any DOC visitor center
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RT Distance 22.4 Miles
Elevation Gain 3937 Feet
Activities Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking, Fitness
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Forest
Lake
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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