St James - Fowlers Pass Track
5 hr 30 min (walking times only)
Fowlers Pass (1296m) connects Fowlers Hut on Tophouse Road with Stanley Vale and Lake Guyon huts, St James Conservation Area.
This marked track has river crossings, scree slopes and a variety of gradients. Please note that particuarly in winter, snow can make travel difficult and the area is prone to avalanches.
Times and distances
Note: this is a shared use track. Times given are walking times only.
Fowlers Hut to Stanley Vale Hut - 4 hr / 12 km
Stanley Vale Hut to Lake Guyon Hut - 1 hr 30 min / 4km
Fowlers Hut is on Tophouse Road. From Hanmer Springs take Clarence Valley Road over Jacks Pass to connect with Tophouse Road (about 13km from Hanmer Springs). This road follows the eastern boundary of St James Conservation Area.
Mountain biking and cycling
Places to stay
Fowlers Hut on Tophouse Road is a historic rabbiters hut. It was built about 1890 by the Hurunui Rabbit Board to accomodate staff to maintain the rabbit exclusion fence and carry out rabbit control. A section of the original 1880s rabbit exclusion fence remains, complete with iron gate.
Stanley Vale Hut was built around 1866, and was restored in 1988. This mud and stud two-roomed hut was orginally a homestead, and is a reminder of the history of pastoral farming in the area.
Both huts are classified as shelters, providing only basic accomodation, and are free to use.
Plan and prepare
Your safety is your responsibility
While access into St James is relatively easy, this remains a remote backcountry area. There is no cell phone coverage. Before your trip ensure you have:
- Checked the latest forecast
- Left your intentions with someone
- A PLB (personal locator beacon) or mountain radio
- Enough warm clothing to spend the night out if you have to.
Avalanches can occur every year when there is snow in the mountains. Most occur during winter storms or in spring/early summer when warmer temperatures or rain make the snow unstable. Even if you can not see snow from the track there may be enough snow out of sight on upper slopes to form an avalanche that could reach the track.
Fowlers Pass Track is challenging avalanche terrain.