Stafford Bay Route

Track category



5 hr


Jackson Bay to Smoothwater River

Time: 45 min

The track climbs steeply until it drops down into the Smoothwater River.

Smoothwater River to Stafford Saddle

Time: 2 hr

A 2 hour walk following the Smoothwater River upstream for about 20 minutes until Kakapo Creek. Here the creek bed is part of the track. After about an hour the track veers to the right of the creek and climbs to the saddle.

Stafford Saddle to Stafford Hut

Time: 2 hr

The 2 hour walk sidles around the hill and drops down into a creek. Follow the creek downstream. It may be easier to follow the ‘true left’ bank until you come out onto flats shortly before the confluence with the Stafford River. Follow the river downstream until markers on the ‘true left’ indicate the track to the hut, which is a short distance away on the left.

Smoothwater River to Stafford Bay via the coast

Time: 4 hr

Important notice: This unmarked route is only possible at low tide and when seas are calm.

If conditions are right the route is passable 2 hours either side of low tide, however a lot of care is necessary due to coastal erosion.

Follow the Smoothwater River downstream for about 30 minutes to Smoothwater Bay. Follow the coastline around to Stafford Bay. One of the most difficult is a few hundred metres past Smoothwater; see comment above about low tide and flat sea. The headlands on either side of Homminy Cove should be crossed following the roughly marked routes across their necks (narrowest part of the headlands). 

Alternatively from Smoothwater Bay, follow markers along the Smoothwater River for about 40 minutes where the track leaves the river to return to Jackson Bay Okahu.

Places to stay

Grassy flats nearby are also suitable for camping.

Plan and prepare

You will need a Topomap E37/E38 Cascade and a degree of route finding experience on this track where you will need to make several river and creek crossings.

For track conditions, maps, weather forecasts and more information on the area contact the Haast Visitor Centre.

back to top


Find out more



DOC maps: Discover the outdoors - DOC's key places, campsites, tracks and huts, and visitor centres on a map

Learn more

Check, Clean, Dry between waterways and stop the spread of didymo.

Walking track categories


Follow the Outdoor Safety Code:
1. Plan your trip
2. Tell someone
3. Be aware of the weather
4. Know your limits
5. Take sufficient supplies

Alerts for West Coast places


Westland Tai Poutini National Park Visitor Centre
Phone:      +64 3 752 0796
Address:   13 State Highway 6
Franz Josef Glacier 7856
Full office details
Awarua / Haast Visitor Centre
Phone:      +64 3 750 0809
Address:   Haast Junction
Corner SH6 and Jackson Bay Road
South Westland
Full office details

Give feedback on a recent visit to a DOC place