The Nina Valley tramp starts opposite Palmer Lodge on State Highway 7 about 12 km south of Lewis Pass or approximately 40 minutes drive from Hanmer Springs.Palmer Lodge is a locked NZ Deerstalkers Lodge.Parking is available on the large grass area surrounding the Lodge.
As you leave the carpark at Palmer Lodge cross the Highway and walk a few metres up the road to a DOC sign indicating the start of the tramp. From here you cross the Lewis River over a swingbridge and wander over flats until the track climbs up to a terrace where the towering red beech forest begins. The track suddenly heads inland away from the Lewis River and crosses a few small creeks before emerging onto an enchanting open flat landscape of smaller beech trees. The track is well marked across here but contains a few muddy sections. The route to Sylvia Tops is passed near the end of the flat so keep going straight ahead until a larger unbridged side stream is reached. The track now sidles beside the Nina River and the first of many large green pools. From here you cross a large grassy flat that would make a perfect camp site before the route heads inland to where the Nina River runs through a tight gorge. There is a huge green, cold pool here, which is fantastic to swim in during hot summer days. A new swingbridge has been erected across the gorge where the track crosses to the true right side of the Nina River. The old Nina track still continues up the true left side of the river as far as Nina Bivouac. (Road end to Nina Swingbridge 1.5 Hrs)
Once across the bridge the track stays close to the river and follows along terraces of massive red beech forest. On your right you can see the wide open river flats of the Nina. This is perfect tramping country as there is little height gained, as the track crosses a few side creeks and many grassy clearings for approximately 5 km. Views through the trees show some of the high peaks which form part of the Main Divide. Next the track sidles for a little way above the river, keeping away from a particularly muddy section before coming to a small stream opposite the site of the old Nina Hut. From here the track heads slightly inland climbing for about 15 minutes to a sunny open terrace where the new Nina Hut sits. (Swingbridge to Nina Hut 1.5 Hrs)
The hut was built by DOC over the summer months of 2002 and open for use in May that year. It is a 10 bunk hut with woodburner, large wooden table and has plenty of cooking bench space. Outside there is a covered deck which contains a large sink supplying water from the tank. The hut has many opening windows luckily with fly screens as the sandflys are particularly ferocious. A standard hut. 1 hut ticket per person per night.
The Return Journey
The return journey out is the same as coming in,and the time is about the same. (3 hrs)
It is possible to cross the river near the old Nina Hut and follow the track back as far as the swingbridge on the true left side.