Dec 08 1993

Leith Saddle Boardwalk Track

The track rises fairly steeply at first from the Waitati Valley through the cedar forest with emergent miro and totara. The track once very boggy as it passed through the forest has been overlaid by a boardwalk that has allowed the forest floor to largely recover. After leaving the forest, the track emerges through high turpentine (Dracophyllum longifolium) scrub onto the tussock and peat country of Swampy Summit. A short climb from the scrub-line takes you on to the Swampy Spur from which  360 degree panoramic views can be obtained. An easier gradient takes the track to its finish on the vehicle track which traverses the Swampy Summit. This vehicle track is closed to public vehicles but the Swampy Ridge track which follows the vehicle track can be followed south to Flagstaff or north to Double Hill and the Silverpeaks Route.

– Adapted from DoC hard-copy information sheet


For many years Dunedin trampers have viewed Leith Saddle Track with trepidation. It was a track with an unsavoury reputation – described as a “mudslide”, a “quagmire”, and “the boggiest track this side of Stewart Island”. Not any more.

Thanks to the back-breaking efforts of DoC Conservation Corps groups, the Phoenix Cub, the Over 60s Tramping Club, and the Taieri tramping group, a sturdy boardwalk now winds its way up the hill from the norther motorway to Leith Saddle.

“It was not the easiest of  boardwalks to build!” recalls Conservation Corps leader, Dave Blair.

“There was much slipping and sliding hard work, but the corps and volunteers involved did a wonderful job,” he said.

“The technical advice provided by DoC field officer John Pearce was a key to our success.”

According to DoC field centre manager Christ Stewart the enthusiasm of other groups for the project was particularly impressive. Groups such as the Over 60s Tramping Cub, WEA Tramping Club, Taieri Tramping Club and Phoenix Club were all willing helpers, he said.

The work was made possible by the generous support of Hannahs Shoes, who are involved in a nationwide walkways sponsorship in association with DoC.

The Leith Saddle boardwalk is the first project to be completed under this long-term sponsorship deal. Other sponsors for the project were Jaco’s Timber (who provided timber), and Fulton Hogan Ltd (who supplied gravel chips).

The Leith Saddle track winds its way steeply up  from the Waitati Valley through cedar forest with emergent miro and totara. After leaving the forest the track emerges through high “turpentine” scrub on to the tussock and peak country of Swampy Summit and some panoramic views.

This Saturday, December 11, at 1.30 p.m. the new boardwalk will be opened to the public with an informal function at the car park on the Northern Motorway. After a few short speeches there will be a chance to walk some of the boardwalk before returning to the car park for a barbecue and soft drink.

For the more energetic, there will be a guided walk over Leith Saddle, along Swampy Ridge track and down the Pineapple Flagstaff walk. Transport will then be available back to the start for those who need to get back to their own cars.'”It promises to be a great afternoon,” says DoC community involvement officer Steve Broni. – Dunedin Star Midweek, Wed 8/12/1993

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