Bridle Track

Bridle Track

The Bridle Track in Mount Aspiring National Park follows the Makarora River, linking Davis Flat (about 5 km beyond the Blue Pools carpark) with the high point over Haast Pass / Tioripatea. The track is a remnant of the old pre-road trail that linked Haast on the West Coast to Hāwea and Wānaka. It takes about 90 minutes each way, so if it is especially wet and you only have one car, you may only want to walk part of the way, then turn back.

Starting at the Davis Flat southern entrance, the track sidles alongside Makarora River, mostly in native forest including some stunning kōtukutuku – native fuchsia – overhanging the river. Look across the river early in the walk and you should be able to get a glimpse of the Stewart Falls, which are actually 90 metres high.

The track is rather worn out and reasonably high above the river in some places, but should be straight forward. About a quarter of the way along, there is a swing bridge. This is just past where the Makarora River turns sharply east into the Makarora Gorge, and the bridge crosses a large feeder stream. Once across, you will find yourself in an established native beech rainforest with a well maintained track. From there it is a 130 metre climb, mostly gentle, to the road at the top of the pass.

The northern end of the Bridle Track starts at the Haast Pass / Tioripatea high point, with the track entrance opposite a short steep track to a high viewpoint (you won’t see much if it’s raining). The well maintained track goes downhill on a gentle incline through native beech rain forest with a series of short bridges, including two significant stream crossings.

These streams become quite dramatic in the wet, both with a series of tumbling falls. As you approach the second stream, you will be quite high above the first, with some nice views down through the forest. There is a better viewpoint if you continue on after the second significant stream crossing.

In the wet, this section of the walk takes on a stunning emerald green lustre due to the moss and lichen on the trees and around the path.

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