As you head down the path from the public shelter, the path will split in two with the Governors Bush Walk.

Follow the sign for Red Tarns (left) and you will come to Black Birch Stream over which there is a bridge to cross. After the bridge, the path is steep and has steps most of the way. At first, you will be surrounded by a thick forest which will peter out the higher you go to reveal the views of the valley. 

Above halfway up the track, there is a small stream between two rocks. It is extremely refreshing to wash your hands and face with—especially after working up a sweat! As this water comes from the mountains, go ahead and have a drink from it as well.

Red Tarns track is quite unique because it is the only track that lets you see the waterfall from which Black Birch Stream flows. As you’re climbing, you’ll start seeing it to your right once the trees clear. 

At the top of the track, there is a bench waiting for you so you can soak in the views and/or the fading sun. You can happily watch Mount Cook turn pink from the top of Red Tarns.

Quick Facts about this walk

  • Location: Mt Cook, South Island, New Zealand
  • Time needed: 2 hour walk
  • Distance: 4 km
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Bikes allowed: No
  • Route: Return
  • Elevation: 300m
  • Wet Feet: Yes, after snow or heavy rain
  • Toilets: There are toilets at the public shelter, located at the start of the walk.
  • Dogs: No, dogs are not allowed in the Mount Cook National Park.
  • Mobile Coverage: Yes, very good
  • Last Updated: April, 2020

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

Motorhome Rental Deals


Save up to 75% off tours


Join our Facebook Group


North Island Walks

free walks

South Island Walks

free walks