Pupu Hydro Water Race Walk

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The Pupu Hydro Walkway follows an interesting old gold-mining water race.

Either take a shorter walk to the top of the pipe line and back again the same way. Or do the full loop walk at 5.5 km following the water race, which will take around 2 hours. The water race has now been reused as a small power generator. Although the climb to the water race line is a little steep, the first section, across Te Waikoropupū River is an easy walk suitable for everyone. After the power station, cross Campbell Creek and zigzag on a 30 minutes’ climb to reach the race.

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Quick Facts about this walk

  • Location:  Kahurangi National Park, Nelson/Tasman region, South Island NZ
  • Distance: 5.5 kms
  • Time needed: 2 Hours
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Wheelchair Access: No
  • Route: Loop trail
  • Elevation: 180m
  • Wet Feet: No
  • Toilets: Yes
  • Dogs: No
  • Mobile Coverage: No
  • Last Updated: November, 2019

We’ve partnered with Macpac outdoor walking & hiking gear to bring you the very best products designed exclusively for our New Zealand climate. They’ll ship for FREE within NZ on orders over $100 (if under $100 it’s only $5). Worldwide international shipping is available except to the USA. Bulky orders will be $20.

Summary points about this walk

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Points of interest along the walk​

Point 1: Pupu Vally Power House

There is a brand new shelter at the car park, just for you, in case of rain. The toilet is over to the right of the photo, tucked in the bushes. Walk through the shelter and follow the track, you will come to a turn off to the left. This leads off to the power house, go and have a look, this is a working power house with a viewing room. There is a push-button by the door, push it to turn on the lights inside the building. If you know a little about the power station, you can look across at the switchboard and read the gauges. Also, look around the yard, there are interesting pieces of equipment lying around.

Point 2: Pupu Water Race

Double back onto the track and over the wooden bridge, you are now back on the main track again. From here the track works its way around to the left and then climbs up the ridge. The track will be a little slippery if wet, it is made up of clay, tree roots, and rocks and in some places, the track is very washed out. When the track starts to level out, you will see what is left of the old race. You are now only a few minutes away from the start of the working race.

Point 3: The Water Intake

This part of the walk will take your breath away. Take your time to enjoy the views of the valley and to marvel at the effort of those men who built this causeway. In this section of the walk, you need to hold on to your kids. It’s a long drop down into the valley below. The original aqueducts were all built of wood, earth, and rocks. Today, if you cannot build it out of concrete and steel, it can’t be built at all. The electronic devices you can see on the bank of the canal, measure the flow rate and the height of the water. This helps to reduce the damage to the raceway.

When you make your way around the shed, and up onto the walkway, you will say wow, but wait when I walk around the corner, you will be stunned. This cannot be real, who on earth would go to all this trouble to build this. The 10th wonder of the world! How about sailing down the wire cable, all the way to the power house. Look above you behind the shed, the bucket for transporting the rubbish back down to the power house is just sitting there.

Follow the race for 30 minutes or so to the weir which is the end of the walkway and a great place to stop for lunch. Follow the Hydro Society 4WD vehicle access track from the weir to continue the loop walk, (50 min) back to the carpark.

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What sort of walking and hiking gear will you need

We’ve partnered with Macpac outdoor walking & hiking gear to bring you the very best products designed exclusively for our New Zealand climate. They’ll ship for FREE within NZ on orders over $100 (if under $100 it’s only $5). Worldwide international shipping is available except to the USA. Bulky orders will be $20.

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