Three Mile Stream Circuit

Lake Sumner Conservation Park

  • 2 – 4 days loop track
  • Medium

A loop around Macs Knob next to Lake Sumner. This route makes for a long overnight trip.

McMillan tarn • By iangeorge. Licence: C.
Three Mile Stream Circuit: Key information
Walking time
2 – 4 days
19 hr – 20 hr
Loop track
Loop track
Route is generally well marked but largely unformed. Some river bed travel, numerous river crossings. Grades explained
No bookings — open access
No — open access
Three Mile Stream Circuit: Find it
Lake Taylor Campsite, Lake Sumner Road.
531m – 839m
Altitude change 308m

This circuit covers a lot of ground, varying from the easy but monotonous travel of the 4WD road into Lake Sumner, to the rough route around the back of Macs Knob. Three Mile Hut is a generously sized hut in an out-of-the-way spot. Its twin is Jollie Brook Hut at the eastern end of Lake Sumner. 

Lake Sumner • By iangeorge. Licence: C.

Shorten this journey by taking a 4WD vehicle in as far as Loch Katrine, or a mountain bike as far as the Hurunui Swingbridge. A mountain bike will roughly halve the time for this section. Alternately, take it easy and stay at Hurunui Hut on the way, perhaps taking in the Hurunui Hot Springs as well. Given the long slog in from the road end, it's worth taking some time to explore the other tracks in the area.


From Hawarden, follow the signs to Lake Sumner. The long gravel road in follows the Hurunui River before turning off to Lake Taylor. A camping area is located here.

Lake Taylor Campsite • Standard Campsite (DOC). 15 spaces.

The Track

Lake Taylor to Hurunui Swingbridge

A 4WD track heads around the southern shoreline of Lake Taylor, crosses a low saddle and eases down to Loch Katrine. The shoreline here is decorated with the beautiful yellow kōwhai and white clematis flowers in spring. The rough road continues onward, eventually sidling above the expanse of Lake Sumner itself. 

The track bends up the Hurunui River onto farm flats, where it becomes a lightly poled route. The turn off to Lake Mason is nearby. Easy walking to the swingbridge. The hut is just a little farther.

Hurunui Swingbridge to Three Mile Stream Hut

Over the bridge, head to the bush edge, tall beech forest with an understorey trampled by cows, and turn left. Macmillan Stream is nearby, and a track follows up the true left bank. At a sharp bend, the track runs out. Pick your way upstream from here. There are numerous river crossings, and sections of track on alternate sides of the river. 

After 3km, the route leaves the stream to climb onto an easy saddle. Look out for the distinctive saddle upstream on the true left, and the start of the track, marked with an orange triangle. A quick climb leads up to a boggy saddle with some patches of deep mud. Sidle past a tarn and follow down a small ridge between two streams. The track soon leads out onto river flats and poles to the welcoming little hut, perched on a low terrace.

Three Mile Stream Hut • Standard Hut (DOC). Capacity: 7.

Three Mile Stream Hut to Hope Kiwi Track

Three Mile Stream Hut • By iangeorge. Licence: C.

From the hut, head down Three Mile Stream and ignore the track that leads off into forest: this goes through to Hope Kiwi Lodge. 

A track soon starts in forest on the true right, and becomes a mossy sidle on a tumble of rocks. The track bends around a waterfall above a deep gorge then follows a dry ridge down to a red beech terrace. A signposted junction in the forest marks the junction with the Hope Kiwi Track.

Hope Kiwi Track to Hurunui Swingbridge

Swing right here, and amble easily along the wide track. Lake Sumner is soon visible through the trees, although we just nudge the corner of it before dropping onto flats then back into some dreary forest. There are several quick kilometres back to the swingbridge, followed by the long road journey out to Lake Taylor.

Walking times

  • Lake Taylor to Loch Katrine: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Loch Katrine to Hurunui Swingbridge: 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Hurunui Swingbridge to Three Mile Hut via McMillan Stream: 4 hours 30 minutes
  • Three Mile Hut to Hope Kiwi Track via Three Mile Stream Route: 2 hours 45 minutes
  • Three Mile Stream to Hurunui Swingbridge via Hope Kiwi Track: 2 hours
  • Return to Lake Taylor: 4 hours

Connecting tracks

  • Hurunui Hut is 20 minutes' walk up the true right bank of the Hurunui River from the swingbridge. Beyond here, the track leads up to the Hurunui Hot Springs and Harper Pass.
  • From near Three Mile Stream Hut, a track leads through to Hope Kiwi Lodge. Another track leads from there down to Kiwi Saddle and the Hope Kiwi Track. Add these tracks on for a longer loop.
ID 16514

About this track

Added 13 November 2017 by matthewmatthew. 3 revisions, most recently 18 January 2018 by matthewmatthew.
210 views in the past year (18 per month).