Route Outline: Rees / Dart Rivers

We decided just to tramp in to Dart Hut and then back out. Absolutely amazing. Definitely a track for the more experienced tramper I must add.


Apparently the walk through rather than back out was longer but easier - I don't know if climbing the Rees saddle twice was a good idea!! My Father who is about 24 stone managed it but is not too keen to repeat. This is a man who used to run the tracks at the age of 18!!!! He still said it is the best scenery he's ever seen in NZ. The 3 km walk towards the Dart glacier was a thrill. I fully recommend it!!


From Queenstown, take the Glenorchy-Queenstown Road around Lake Wakatipu. Continue north from Glenorchy and follow the Rees Valley Road along the true left bank of the Rees River. A rough 4X4 track with several fords leads to a car park. Transport can be arranged in Queenstown.

The Track

The track was a nice rainforest walk for the first day. A bit boggy this time of year but nothing compared to the next 2 days. The Shelter Rock Hut is a DOC hut so is very nice (well maintained). There's plenty of room but no bookings available, which would have been useful for the Dart Hut. The Shelter Rock Hut is surrounded in mountains peaked in snow. We were woken by 3 keas (so put your boots inside!) who came into our hut and became very good friends (I'm sure they only wanted to eat my sleeping bag). The second day to Dart Hut was hard. It was to take 5-7 hr but took us 10 (we do take long breaks though to enjoy the amazing scenery). The walk through the valley was long and we lost the track for a while so the extra effort used in walking over tussock was not welcomed. We were rewarded though with a view overlooking turrets and up to a sheer wall of rock and glaciers! The apparently 'gradual' walk down to Dart was harsh. I would have perhaps split the day in two at my current fitness level, and I wasn't the only one who agreed (even experienced trampers commented on the difficulty) so watch your knees! I can't express how gratifying the whole trip was. I'm definitely doing it again but this time I'll take a few mates so Dad doesn't have to put himself through that again. He did add that if he can go to his grave with the scenery of the Rees and Dart in his mind he'll be a happy man (a true KIWI joker)!


  • ledge ledge Ray Salisbury here. As DOC are gonna make us BOOK these three huts by Jan 2013, I decided to 'do' the Rees-Dart in Jan 2012. Most stunning mountain scenery in NZ! While the valleys are long-ish, the tedium is offset by the alternating of river flats with beautiful beech forest. Dart Hut is a gem, even when taken over by 25 Israelis! Needs 3 hut wardens, not just one. My advice: Stay in rock bivs (Kea Basin up Mt Earnslaw, & Veints Biv, 3 hrs past Dart Hut.) Tent near Dart Hut, and spend a spare day visiting the remarkable alpine environs Cascade Saddle. However, if you camp up there (there are toilets near Pylon), be prepared for keas to rip up your tent. Also, I have awoken to rain in 1991 & 2012 - gotta get good weather. Rees Saddle is NOT particularly steep, though might be slippery if wet/ snow-covered. Took me 15 mins to climb, on a good dirt path following poles to top. Not exposed, not gnarly.
    25 January 2012
  • lukebaxter Great track, long valley approaches either side though - going up the Dart and out the Rees seems to be a good way of doing things, although it makes the transport a little more difficult. In any case there's a lot of leg stretching, and watch out for the Cattle Flats in the Dart - longer and more painful than they look! The climb up to the saddle (from the Dart) is through one of the most impressive alpine valleys I've seen, and I would have loved to hang around and explore - unfortunately the weather closed in. We went in at the start of summer before the swingbridge was replaced, and crossed the upper Snowy on a fantastic and massive snowbridge. Apparently a scramble up the peak adjacent to the saddle itself is well worth it, with views over to Lochnager (has anyone done this?). Got 3 inches of snow overnight at Shelter Rock before walking down the Rees by headlamp for a mid-morning pickup, absolutely superb!
    27 April 2005
  • Randy Camp In the same area for those with time are some nice off-shoots in the area. Try staying at Rockburn Hut and visit the chasm in that area. It's on the left side of the Dart, funnily enough where the Rochburn River From there you can easily zap up the side of the Dart and then explore some very nice valleys etc. Well worth the time and effort! Take a tent, huts are not in supply. There is the odd bivvy but these are rock made, not man made. Enjoy
    15 March 2004
  • brett I would advise anyone doing this hike to spend two nights at Dart Hut and spend a day doing the side trip up to Cascade Saddle - the views from the saddle of Dart Glacier and Mt Aspiring are indeed awe inspiring. We did the Cascade Saddle return trip in the afternoon after hiking Shelter Rock to Dart Hut in the morning - it's doable but makes for a long day. Take care when crossing 25 mile creek if the river levels are up - people have lost their lives trying to cross it in flood. We also had a decent sized earth tremor when we stayed at Dart Hut which the warden said was not unusual - all adds to the fun.
    7 February 2004
  • Jack Jones excellent track spoiled by it's popularity
    4 February 2004
  • freddo Unlike the commentry above - you will find the Reaas-Dart a straight forward track for anyone with a little outdoors experience.
    16 January 2004
  • amharris Anyone know why DOC needed to close the old hut while building the new one? Or does the old hut no linger exist?
    25 August 2003
  • sinch116 Great track - we did it a couple of yrs ago in 2 1/2 days, with a big day from Dart Hut out to Paradise, as the weather was turning. Would love to do it again with more time for sidetrips, enjoying the scenery (when the clouds allow) and stopping for photos.
    20 August 2003
  • joyce I didn't realise that Dart Hut was closed until I saw the sign right at the start of the track. I didn't have a tent with me but decided to walk from shelter rock to Daley's flat in one day. Perfectly do-able if you don't mind walking 10 hours/day. Pay to start early because the temperature builds up quickly during summer, and the whole track is reasonably exposed.
    26 January 2003
  • chris Quick note - Dart Hut has been closed from 13 Nov 2002 to allow for it's replacement with a 32 bunk hut (currently 20 bunks). Only trampers with tents should attempt the walk until the new hut is opened. Please check with the DOC visitor centre in Glenorchy (+64 3 442 9937) for up-dates if you are planning a trip. But I did walk the track in the summer of 2000, and it is a wonderful trip, except possibly for the jetboats operating in the Dart.
    4 December 2002
  • Fryer Have done this track twice - on both occasions we were blessed with good weather and thoroughly enjoyed it.We camped rather than stay in the huts and also enjoyed the company of the Keas who tried to run off with our plates.Starting at the Rees end is preferable and better scenery. The area at the top of the Rees is outstanding and the climb over the saddle very rewarding. From the Dart Hut it is well worth while taking the walk up to the Dart Glacier or even further and going on to the Cascade Saddle.The walk down the Dart is different - be prepared for the sandflies !! But again cotains magnificent scenery - really enjoyed the Sandy Bluff experience.
    5 March 2002
  • nzfella nzfella I am surprised that it took so long, as when we did it the trip from shelter rock to dart took just over 4hours, and that included waiting for a slow member of our group. We had lunch at dart and played cards and drunk something like 30 cups of tea for the afternoon. nzfella
    11 December 2001
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Added 1 January 19991 January 1999 by Amie. No revisions.
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