Backpack to the Welcome Flat Hut

11.2 Miles Round Trip - 1378 ft gain - Out-and-Back Trail

Copland Valley Track - Search Nearby - Added by Lucas Boland

Long, enjoyable hike to get the heart pumping. Gorgeous river valley with crystal clear water. New DOC hut. Natural hot springs to relax the muscles at the end of the day.

The Welcome Flat Hut is more of a local destination than a tourist one. Franz Josef and Fox Glacier both see heaps of visitors on any given day, mainly for small-scale adventures. But, if you're looking to get away from some of the crowds and experience the Westland area at a slightly more intense level, consider hiking up the Copland Valley to the Welcome Flat Hut. It's a long, but really accessible and pleasant valley walk and will take you away from the fray of typical New Zealand tourist destinations. Also, it is a popular mountaineering trail to access the Aoraki/Mt. Cook destinations, and has tons of historical significance.

Getting There:

The only tricky part is knowing the correct road to turn off of State Highway 6 onto. From Fox Glacier, you'll continue south on SH 6 for 26 kilometers. Just before you reach the Karangarua River, on the north side, there will be a turn off on the left side for a dirt road that leads to the parking lot. It is supposed to be well signed but we shot past it on our first attempt. Once you've reached that, the trail leaves from the end of the parking lot with a sign for Copland Valley destinations.

Track Information:

The trail starts by crossing Rough Creek, which, if the levels are high, will simply be impossible. There is a bridge a 45 minutes walk upstream, but it is only for emergency exits from the track. Now is a good time to note that there are multiple other small stream crossings along the way that will be impassable with a recent heavy rainfall (not uncommon for the West Coast). So, if you can't cross Rough Creek at the trailhead, do not start the trail.

The track is 18km one way, and takes about 7 hours to complete. It's a long day but the slope is very gradual. Only once you're nearing the end will the climb become steeper for a couple of kilometers until it reaches the apex of the trail, and then descends down to the Welcome Flat Hut. The trail varies from beautiful forested walking with lush ferns, to scrambling with hands and feet over boulders down by the Copland River, to some grassy clearings. The trail is easy to follow and orange triangle markers will be used to guide the way when out of the forest. If you're at the Architect Creek Hut, you're approximately half of the way there. One another note about the trail is that there are nine total, bridges to cross, including some long, super-fun suspension bridges. These should be crossed one at a time (a sign will tell you how many are allowed on the bridge).

At The Hut:

 Remember to book your bunk at the hut before heading out. There will be a hut warden in the high season to ensure that you have your booking. Enjoy soaking in the pools! It is one of the best feelings to relax the muscles after a long day of tramping. For one, always keep your head above the water in the pools. Amoebic meningitis is not something that you want to deal with. Also, the sandflies are devilish in this area. Bring bug spray, and avoid soaking at dusk or dawn if you want to dodge some of them. Take in the view of the other side of the Sierra Range, and, if you'd like, you can even extend your trip further up the valley to the Douglas Rock Hut.

 Cheers!

Tags

Chillin
Swimming
Backpacking
Hiking
Bathrooms
Forest
Hot Springs
River
Scenic

Details

11.2 Miles
1378 ft elevation gain
Out-and-Back Trail

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Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Stunning Hike And Amazing Hot Springs

This was such an amazing hike with so many picturesque spots to stop and soak in the mountains, especially in the last 10 kms of the Hike. Definitely make sure to pick a good time to go on the hike - if it’s raining there are lots of land slip areas along the way that have a higher risk of slipping further in the rain. The swing bridges along the way are super fun and take you across a few areas of the trail fairly high up! If you really want to treat yourself at the hut, the Sierra Room is a separate area in the hut for up to four people (3 single, one double bed) with its own shower, stove and kitchenette set apart from the hut. Beautiful hike overall and was a great introduction to overnights in NZ!