Sawyer Burn Track
The Sawyer Burn track is a lovely out-and-back 8 km track, with a decent 550m climb, excellent views across Lake Hawea and the Sawyer Burn valley, a hut to bag, and a swim at the end. DOC rates it as an advanced track and recommends a 4 – 5 hours return. It took us 4 hours 15 minutes return to the hut, including 45 minutes for lunch. The track was well-marked, easy to follow, and aside from a couple of tricky bits, not too technical.
Getting There Sawyer Burn Track
The Sawyer Burn track starts from the Kidds Bush Recreation Reserve. Turn off the SH6 onto Meads Road at the North end of Lake Hawea (at the neck where Lakes Wanaka and Hawea almost join). The reserve is 6 km down a good gravel road.
The Kidd’s Bush campsite was absolutely packed in early January, and unfortunately, the DOC loos were closed. The many portaloos were in an absolutely terrible state. (Hopefully, the toilets will be refurbished soon).
Sawyer Burn Track
We carried a day pack with the essentials – warm clothes, lunch and water, PLB, first aid kit and sunscreen and left the car park at 12.05 pm. At the time of writing the 1 km nature walk was closed.
The track starts at around 370m elevation with a steady then very stiff climb up multiple switchbacks through the forest, which will get your heart pumping. Fifteen minutes later, at 12.35 pm we arrived at the first viewpoint overlooking Lake Hawea. Back into the forest and more solid up, brought us to the uppermost viewpoint at 12.55 pm (around 900m).
On From the Viewpoint Sawyer Burn Track
We paused for water and photos and at 1 pm started the gently undulating sidle on the Eastern side of the range with views over the Sawyer Burn. The grassy slopes were full of flowers and we enjoyed the walk We went during a spell of great weather, and even then, there were some boggy sections of track, so you may get wet feet.
We passed through a couple of forested sections, where we met a family of inquisitive but silent fantails – something neither of us had ever encountered before (non-chatty fantails).
Sawyer Burn Hut
At 1.45 pm we rounded the final left-hand bend with excellent views towards Sentinel Peak (1814m) before dropping a little to the slightly dingy, 2-bed Saywer Burn hut. You can carry on and walk to Sentinel Peak from here and various tracks from the hut. We passed the hut and ate our lunch in the forest high above a river.
Our return journey was slightly quicker, as we had some fun running the goat tracks between the zig-zags on the final downhill. By 4.15 pm we were back at Kidds Bush for a swim.