12 Mile Creek-Mt Crichton Track

Queenstown and Lakes District

12 Mile Creek

This is one of the most beautiful rivers I have ever walked up. Heaps of gorgeous waterfalls and swimming holes, lots of old slucings and mine shafts. All encompassed by New Zealand Beech forest. Sam Summers hut is here and I believe you are allowed to stay. Just do it.


From Queenstown head toward Glenorchy. 9km along the road stop at the Mt Crichton trail head parking lot. From there follow the sign posts to Sam Summers Hut. Just before the hut there is a sign pointing out an old tunnel. Check it out and explore a bit. Very cool waterfalls.

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A simple hike turned to paradise.

After realizing we had booked the wrong day for our hotel room, we headed out to find a camp ground. We woke in a place called the 12 Mile Delta. I had heard of the place before and I remembered about a canyoning company that claimed fame to the river up a track. We packed up the site and headed to a better vantage point for our new mission at hand. After checking out some maps, it appeared there was a trail that would lead us most of the way. The Mount Crichton Loop Track.

We wanted to see these canyons. Starting off on the trek, we didn't really know which way to go. Thats never stopped us before. The trail started off pretty interesting with noticeable old sluicings and tail races along the side of the track. It's one of those trails that feel like it's turning into a promising adventure. We passed by some high cliffs and an old mining settlement, through a sluiced out gully and passed an old tunnel. In front of us now was Sam Summers hut. DOC has looked after this place well and preserved it as best they could. We skipped by that and found the most perfect waterfall I have ever seen. You will notice it in the pictures. This is where we left the Mt Crichton Track and headed straight bush.

Stumbling over old ruined Chinese mining huts and rock tailings. And to my surprise I noticed a dark shadow under an old tree. I of course climbed up to it and realized it was an old mine shaft. Called down to Casey to get up here quick. We fired up some flashlights and headed in. The first section was pretty much a pond that you had to get your feet wet. The tunnel was cut through old river stone and looked like it could fall any moment. It went around a couple of bends and then to an end. This was getting exciting and our trip had only just started. We followed up the river again, crossing over to the easier side when ever possible. We found an old trail/water race, and took that as far as it went. It ended at a wild waterfall where we sat and ate lunch. From there the river turned mountainous and not so fun to follow. We headed back down to the tail race tunnel.

The very tall tail race tunnel was fun to wander though and it came out above the creek. There is a little path that leads down to the river, from here you could hear the roar of a waterfall to your left, upstream. Didn't take us long to get there. The waterfalls were strikingly beautiful and they came from all sides. You will just have to go see for yourselves.

An unexpected day - Stu