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New Zealand hikesNew Zealand Nelson Lakes D'Urville Valley

New Zealanders and overseas visitors have turned to unspoiled hills, forests and coasts of our magnificent New Zealand landscape in search of physical recreation and spiritual solace. The D'Urville Valley track is one of the safest tracks to be found in New Zealand's remote back country, free from river crossings, well marked and well provided with huts. It may be sensibly tackled by the inexperienced provided that their party includes one or two seasoned trampers or hikers. So go to it, embark on the discovery of our unequalled New Zealand natural landscape.

Discover D'Urville Valley, D'Urville Hut, Morgan Hut, Ella Hut ( George Lyons Hut ), and Mole Tops. It is one of Nelson Lakes National parks top destinations for tramping and hiking track adventures - the Mole Tops Track, lake Rotoroa, New Zealand.

General Information

D'Urville Valley Track is a 2 - 3 day walking route through the Nelson Lakes National Park, the D'Urville Valley Track passes through landscapes ranging from tall mossy forest to rocky mountain ridges, from lake shores to deep gorges. D'Urville Valley Track is one of New Zealand's best kept secrets and rivals any other New Zealand walking track for scenery and variety of natural history. Easily reached from lake Rotoroa ( 30 minutes by water taxi), the D'urville Track can be walked and enjoyed by anybody with moderate outdoor ability and fitness.

All natives birds and flora are protected; plants must not be removed and domestic animals, such as dogs, are prohibited. All mammals (except bats) are introduced, noxious and fair game but hunting of these (e.g. red deer) is not allowed except by permit (consult park rangers). It is the responsibility of every traveller to see that the environment remains undamaged and unpolluted and is preserved as nearly as possible in its natural state. Information about both parks may be obtained from the official park handbooks, available at Government bookshops and all major booksellers.

For safety's sake, you must ensure that you register your group's names and intentions in national park hut books along the track.

  • Valley beech forest
  • Lakeside tracks and camping
  • Alpine tops with tremendous views over Mole Tops & D'urville Valley
  • Three Huts
  • Good side-trips
  • Standard Track (variable due to treefalls and snow falls)
  • Excellent transport to track end

D'Urville Valley track can only be walked from either Lake Rotoroa or from Murchison. Nelson Lakes Shuttles provides track transport and can transfer your vehicle from Lake Rotoiti to Lake Rotoroa. For current information on access and bookings contact Nelson Lakes Shuttles on 021 490095 or email or web

Track Transport
Mole Tops track can only be walked from either Lake Rotoroa or from Murchison. Lake Rotoroa water taxi can provide transport is available from Lake Rotoroa. . For current information on access and bookings contact Nelson Lakes Shuttles on 021 490095 or email or web
Local Services
Lake Rotoroa has everything - a range of accommodation from hotels, homestay, backpackers to motor camps. Nelson Lakes Accommodation Gowan Backpackers & Homestay Lake Rotoroa - Clean Comfortable and Affordable Accommodation at Lake Rotoroa.Try the tasty meals at their Cafe.
Huts and Camping

D'Urville Valley Track has three huts: D'urville hut , Morgan hut, George Lyons ( formerly known as Ella Hut) Hut, with no gas cooking, wood stove, toilets. Backcountry Hut Tickets apply and camping is allowed on the D'Urville Valley Track .

Weather and Season
D'Urville Valley Track lies within a mountain environment. It is possible to experience sunshine, torrential rain, high winds and snow all in one day, even in summer. Be prepared for sudden weather changes, swollen rivers, usually for the worse, and take a waterproof raincat, woollen hat and gloves, and a complete change of clothes. It may be under snow from late May until the end of September, with corresponding avalanche risk. Listen to weather reports, take advice from DOC Visitor Centre and if in doubt - wait it out. Only highly experienced trampers, hikers and climbers should undertake the track .
Clothing and Equipment

Compared with other tracks in New Zealand , this a track depending on track damage from treefalls and snowfalls may not always be in a good condition. Many streams are not bridged, boardwalks may or may not cover boggy areas or very steep sections, and the walking gradient is easy. Strong footwear is recommended, and walkers should carry clothing for all weather conditions. Track is also prone to wasp nests.

Walkers must take adequately warm clothing. In fine weather, shorts and a light shirt may be worn but long trousers, a warm shirt and woollen sweater essential for cold conditions. A waterproof parka is also essential. Boots must be worn and these must be properly broken in. A comfortable pack and warm sleeping bag are essential: there is no bedding in the huts.

All food and all utensils must be carried. Gas rings and fuel are provided in huts during the season. Each hut also has a stove for heating and drying. No fires are allowed outside approved fireplaces. Remember to remove all rubbish which you are unable to burn - pack out what you pack in - in the rubbish bags provided.

You should take a small first aid kit,torch, small compass, and of course, appropriate track guide

Fitness and Preparation

It is important to ensure that you are physically fit. If you are not preoccupied with blistered feet or sore muscles then not only will you cover the ground more quickly and safely, but you will have more time and opportunity to appreciate the scenery and natural features that you have made so much effort to reach! So - break in those boots, make sure your clothing and gear are comfortable and adequate, plan your food requirements, and undertake several training tramps or hikes of increasing length and difficulty. There's only one way to get fit for tramping - and that's tramping.

Before you leave home, inform relatives or friends of your intentations and dates of travel and put your names and plans in the log books along the way. This will make your location easier should you suffer any mishap. On the track, keep your party together at all times; reduces the chance of a member getting lost or having an accident. Remember - the pace of your party is that of its slowest member.

Approach to Walking

Don't rush and don't loiter. Keep up a good, steady pace and don't indulge in too many rest stops - it's surprising how the time gets away from you. And rests should not be too long, otherwise you may stiffen up and lose your rhythm. Don't hang around if its wet and cold - keep body heat up. Start out early each day, so that you're always time in hand.

Keep your party together at all times; this reduces the chance of a member getting lost or having an accident. Remember the golden rule - the pace of the party is that of its slowest member.

Although D'Urville Valley Track is a well-graded, well marked, well hutted and well used track, it must not be undertaken lightly. It is very prone to windfall and snowfall damage. People will die on this Track from underestimating weather conditions. Your group must be fit and well prepared. Make a conservative estimate of your capabilities and needs, plan well, and by the time you reach the D'urville Track you'll have no worries.

Many of parts of the track can be open and exposed by the D'urville River. Bad weather will easily delay you and it is sensible to have a day in hand - especially if you want to enjoy the view. D'Urville Valley Track varies between an easy country walk and a standard tramping or hiking trail. Although always well graded, it can be stony and rough underfoot.


More Durville Valley Photos >>

Nelson Lakes National Park Photos

Distances Tracks / Times

The total average travelling time for the track is 8 hours, so that a very fit, skilled tramper, with a light pack might accomplish in one summer's day. The 'record' is 5.5 hours!

But observation of one's surroundings is reduced in direct proportion to the speed of travel and, one might add, the weight of one's load. Most D'urville Valley Track walkers will want to take their time - for comfort's sake and to take in to the full attraction of the natural environment.

D'urville Hut to Tiraumea Hut
14 km
6 hours
D'urville Hut to Morgan Hut
? km
4 hours
Morgan Hut to George Lyon Hut ( Ella Hut)
? km
4 hours



Further Information

Nelson Region Visitor Centre, 79 Trafalgar Street, Nelson
Phone: 64 (03) 546 9339


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