Hurunui Hut

Hurunui Hut

Hurunui Hut is a Department Of Conservation (DOC) Hut in Lake Sumner Forest Park. It’s tucked away in the bush not far from the Hurunui River. The hut can be reached from a number of locations. Unfortunately, none of these trails are within close proximity to the road end. Fortunately there is a trail (detailed in this post) from Lake Taylor that is classified as a shared biking/walking trail along vehicle tracks makes the hut a lot more accessible as an overnight trip. The majority of the terrain is easy riding along four wheel drive track until Loch Katrine where motorised vehicle access ends. From here onward the trail isn’t as torn up and follows farm tracks through until you reach Hurunui swing bridge. Hurunui Hut is a great track for introducing yourself to the bike packing world.


2h 30m


20.3 km


230 m




Grade 2

Zach and Tobi approaching Hurunui swing bridge before the climb through the forest to Hurunui Hut

42°42′24″S 172°06′53″E

In Detail

Whether you’re a weekend warrior who enjoys a bit of mountain biking shredding the local trails or a pedal pusher that enjoys a commute the ride into Hurunui Hut is achievable for many. It’s also one of the best ways to reach Hurunui Hot Pools if you’re one for a soak in nature after a days riding. Even if you don’t have all the fancy bike packing bags, there’s nothing wrong with strapping a pack to your back and riding on in. It’s one of the best ways to get started. Bringing the worlds of mountain biking and hiking together to form an epic adventure. Ensure you take a spare tube for every wheel size in you’re crew, a puncture repair kit, and a pump.

Ben making his way through the forest section, closing in on the hut pedal by pedal

Getting to Lake Taylor

From Christchurch take State Highway One north until you reach the turn-off in Waipara for State Highway Seven. Follow State Highway Seven through to Waikari turning left at the public toilets towards Hawarden. By following the road, eventually you should end up on Lake Sumner Road. Initially the road is sealed until you reach the mountainous areas, crossing a small one lane bridge onto the gravelled section of road into the forest park. Follow the gravel road from here on, driving carefully as it is narrow with a number of usually dry fords to cross along the way. Once you reach Lake Taylor either park up as we did under the trees opposite the gated Lake Taylor campsite or within. There is a toilet and basin here if you’re in need.

Lake Taylor to Hurunui Hut Route

The route into Hurunui Hut begins along a chewed up farm track which is open to both motor vehicles, hikers and mountain bikers. It follows the perimeter of Lake Taylor, sometimes from a distance. This track leads around the lake until you reach the nor-western end . From here you travel across a long flat stretch of land before heading down towards Loch Katrine where soon after motor vehicle access ceases. Gates continue to press pause on your trip throughout the journey, however, they do provide an opportunity to reconnect with the rest of the crew and make sure everyone is doing alright. From Loch Katrine the trail eases it’s way down to Lake Sumner. The trail crosses an expansive sheep paddock with plenty of flat riding. From the swing bridge, onward the trail becomes a hiking track. This may require pushing your bike through sections to reach Hurunui Hut.

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Lake Sumner Forest Park Weather

The weather in Lake Sumner Forest Park can usually be relatively stable being sheltered from the western wind and rain. Even when it may be raining or drizzling the trail is a relatively good option. You will find yourself with a good splattering of mud if it has recently been raining. There are no significant stream crossings along the way that you need to make, meaning that extended periods of rain will and swelling of the rivers shouldn’t significantly affect travel to and from Hurunui Hut. Whilst you are riding you may find that the combination of wind and rain could lead to you reaching hypothermia at a heightened rate. Keep an eye on you and your group along the ride and check in with each other along the way.

Lake Taylor

Lake Taylor is both the beginning and the ending of the adventure. On a hot day it’s the perfect spot for a cool off in the water after a long ride. Alternatively camp out before you head off on your ride at the DOC camp ground and enjoy your surroundings. Fishing is possible from the lake with tracks around the lake that let you reach different shores around the lake. A toilet and shelter are also available for public use. that make up the facilities of the camp ground. For more information visit the DOC page for Lake Taylor camp ground.

Tobi & Zach taking the time to go for a swim in Lake Taylor at the end of our bike packing trip

Lake Taylor to Loch Katrine

The journey begins with following shore line of Lake Taylor through scrub and bush along a vehicle track. In many places around he track there are puddles or large ruts from motor vehicle access. You’ll find yourself taking big loops around some to avoid getting stuck or just completely filthy. Throughout the ride there’s an abundance of gates that you’ll need to open and close (remember, rule of thumb is to leave the gate how you found it). Although the gates hit pause on the riding they’re an opportunity for you to re-group with your crew before progressing onwards.

Top: Ben followed by Zach and Tobi making their away around the first bend looking from the Lake Taylor gate along the farm track
Middle Left:
Ben opening the second of many gates along the track
Middle Right:
A typical section of track before approaching lakeside Lake Taylor
To avoid the rutted track and mud holes through the farmland, a second trail had been carved out along the stone lakeside of Lake Taylor

Leaving Lake Taylor

A long section of track that is relatively easy riding exists between Lake Taylor and Loch Katrine. It has a very slight upwards gradient that you’ll appreciate on your return journey. In contrast, on your way to Hurunui Hut you’ll hardly notice the ascent. As the saying goes, with every climbs comes a descent. As you approach Loch Katrine you’ll be greeted by an easing descent into the lake. You won’t need to pedal, just keep good form and let your wheels roll.

Top: Zach & Tobi pumping it out across the easy long sections of flat track
Tobi and Zach enjoying the faster pace downhill towards Loch Katrine

Loch Katrine to Lake Sumner

Following on from Loch Katrine vehicle access continues around the lake’s shore trail. The trail throughout this section was rougher but better formed as we road through the bush. Along the lake there can be an abundance of sandflies. During one point in our journey we almost all got a good few bites after only a couple of minutes. Motor vehicle access (four wheel drives, motorbikes) ends just before you reach the canal between Loch Katrine and Lake Sumner. The gate is locked and access is only possible from this point on foot or bike.

Top: Looking out over Loch Katrine on the way through. The trail following the western (left) shore.
Middle Left: Zach getting off his seat for some extra power along his way up a slight incline along the trail
Middle Right: Ben making his way around the bend before passing through yet another gate on his way to Hurunui Hut
Bottom: A panorama stretching between Lake Sumner and Loch Katrine, Zach and Tobi manning the gate

Lake Sumner Farmland

Not far from Loch Katrine do you find yourself thrown into a wide expanse of sheep farming. It’s a mixture of ‘hotchy potchy’ regenerating forest surrounded by green grass everywhere in between. Sheep roam wild and free amongst the land, going as they please. The trail is in a much better shape and the riding is relatively easy going throughout this section. It’s just a matter of turning the crank and pushing out those kilometres from here.

Top: Zach followed by Tobi working their way around the farm track as we find our way alonside the Hurunui River leaving Lake Sumner
Bottom: A classic Kiwi farming scene, few sheepies and some stunning mountains

At a couple points during our ride through the farmland the trail seemed to completely disappear as the dominant trail faded into one enormous paddock of short green grass and sheep droppings. During these periods of the trail you’re thankful for having two wheels rather than having to walk on two feet. A couple of small streams and ponds of water are negotiable along the way, many easy enough to ride through. Soon enough, you’ll reach Hurunui swing bridge where the vehicle access track ends and the tramping track begins.

Top Left: Approaching hoards of grazing sheep along the
Top Right: Losing the track along the vast greenery and grass paddocks with very dispersed markers along the way. Pretty hard to ‘keep to the track’ along this section
Middle: The boys preparing for a splash through the stream to get to the otherside
Zach and Tobi approaching Hurunui swing bridge before the ‘walk your bike’ section began for us

Hurunui swing bridge to Hurunui Hut

The hiking track from the swing bridge onward takes a turn towards being much more difficult. The trail enters the forest at the swing bridge with plenty or roots and rocks to negotiate. The scenery through this section is undeniably far more beautiful than the rest of the hike, although, it does mean a lot more effort with the bikes.

Ben pushing his bike up a steeper section of trail that

There are a few sections that are ridable along the way to Hurunui Hut. They make for a lot more fun compared to pushing your bike along the trail. Especially as you close in on the hut the forest becomes large and tall with little undergrowth with a blanket of leaves. At a couple of points you’ll find mud bogs and small streams that you’ll need to lift your bike across to continue on.

Top Left: Waiting in line to carry our bikes across a section of the track
Top Right:
Ben taking on a section through the forest that was easily ridable single track
Closing in on the hut the forest suddenly became much larger and more beautiful

Hurunui Hut

Hurunui Hut is the start and end point for this adventure. If you’re walking Te Araroa you likely won’t want to be retracing your steps and will continue on to Hurunui No.3 Hut along the Harper Pass track. The hut is a comfortable large 16 bunk hut with two levels of Maori style bunks along with a third platform situated on the western wall. Water is available from the tanks outside the hut along with their being a toilet in the fringes of the bush. Drop off your heavy gear (sleeping bag, cookware, food) at the hut and take a smaller lighter hut to the hot pools. The round trip return to Hurunui Hot Pools takes two hours, or approximately an hour to reach the hot pools.


16 bunks


Fire place, Mattress, Water



Hurunui Hut basking in the morning light

Hurunui Hut is a spacious hut with plenty of room to lay out your gear, bikes and just enough room for everyone to take their turn at cooking dinner and breakfast. Water is stored in a tank collected from the roof, usually this is fine to drink without being treated, although, DOC does always place warnings that you should do this at your own risk. The hut has glimpses of views of the surrounding mountains but is mostly surrounded by forest, being situated in a clearing.

Clockwise from Top Left
Gear laid out to dry along with the bikes left out along the front porch of the hut
Clouds floating in between the nearby mountains before burning off later in the day
The huts toilet sitting on the edge of the clearing and the bushline. The classic DOC long drop.
The nameplate for Hurunui Hut with a modern door handle attachment, classy.

Hurunui Hot Pools

Hurunui Hot Pools are a small terraced hot pools large enough to fit three to four people in Lake Sumner Forest Park. They are located far deep within the forest park along the Te Araroa trail accessible on foot (or by bike if you’re skilled enough). The most direct approach to reach these hot pools is to travel from the end of a public road at Lake Taylor. This will take you past Hurunui Hut where we stayed a night. Hurunui Hot Pools are certainly adequately warm to relax and soak in for a good long period of time. So much so that after 5-10 minute you’ll probably feel the need to refresh yourself in the forest air. There’s an abundance of sandflies near the pools. Ensure you’re towel, clothes and insect repellent are nearby and handy for an efficient exit.

Zach and Tobi enjoy sipping on a cold beverage in the hot pools whilst resting some tired legs

Return Journey from Hurunui Hut

After plenty of smooth easy riding to reach Hurunui Hut you may think that the return journey is a slog ahead. Fortunately that isn’t the case, after screeching back down the steep sections of hiking track you’ll make your way back along the farm trail and back towards Loch Katrine. From Loch Katrine there’s a significant climb to tackle, however, from the high point of the climb onwards the trail flows once again It’s an easy ride across the plains and back around shore side Lake Taylor back to the car. Take the time to cool off in Lake Taylor if it’s a warm day, otherwise enjoy your surroundings on the ride through Lake Sumner Forest Park.

Top: Ben muscling his way through the forest along the trail, starting the return journey off strong
Middle Left: Tobi leaving the gate as we found it along the track
Middle Right:
Ben leading through to the next section, closing in on Loch Katrine
: Zach readjusting his helmet on the shore front of Lake Taylor not far from the car

Hurunui Hut Crew

Finally shout out to all the lads standing outside the hut. Was a great way to celebrate Ben’s Birthday and share a healthy amount of comfort food throughout the night. Kudos to Ben as well for pedalling back in a high gear after he munted his front sprocket on a rocket. Hurunui Hut was where many of the boys & began our long lasting love and craving for banana bread in the wilderness.

Hurunui Hut Crew – Nathan (the Author), Zach, Tobi, Ben (Left to Right)