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‘Top Beat’ Traditional Shepherds Trail

The first light of the day glistens on the frost of the tall tussock grass. The Shepherd and his dogs crest the ridge and pause for a moment to drink in the grandeur of the surroundings. At his quietly spoken command the dogs give voice, a wild joyous bark up that is instantly repeated further down the hill and yet further still another team joins the chorus and so on until the team on the flats far below gives voice in recognition that the signal has been received.The Muster begins. The man on the ‘top beat’ sets the pace and each man below moves in time as together they sweep the mountainside clean of free running half wild sheep.

Late afternoon finds them all at the river. Dogs and men alike washing off the dust and sweat of the day. The billy boils again and again. Water was scarce on the hill today. Socks, men and dogs lie scattered among the matagaouri around the hut, insignificant below the surrounding peaks.

As the sun drops behind the ridge the tiny hut is still,except for the sound of snoring and the soft crackle of the fire, and all sleep the deep rest of those who walk mighty hills.


Such was the life of the ‘Musterer’ or shepherd. You too can walk the ‘top beat’ the route taken along the ridge by the shepherd and stay in the same old huts. The musters of old no longer occur as they used to, but some of the land is still farmed today and Fiordland Unexplored will take you on a 3 day Guided hiking experience in this expansive and beautiful landscape.Taking place on private land and using private huts you can be assured of a unique and special experience.

Highlights include:

  • Expansive views over Southland.

  • The very likely chance of seeing beautiful game animals in their wild state. Staying in traditional Shepherds Hut.

  • A knowledgeable guide who can point out the small details of this big landscape.Small group size allows for a personal experience.

  • Barbeque of wild game meat from the property. Start and finish in a yummy café.                                  

What: 3 days, 2 nights, climbing high onto the ridge tops of open tussock grazing land each day and descending to traditional shepherds huts each night.First night has power and hot and cold running water. Second night is a tiny traditional back country hut with limited facilities.

All food and bedding provided. You need only your own personal clothing (list provided) and a good level of fitness as each day you gain up to 800m in altitude before descending to the river valley. A good proportion of the walking is on formed farm tracks and the rest is off track along broad shingle ridges and tussock spurs.

Where: The hike starts and ends in Athol, Northern Southland, NZ.

When: Weekly, January to June,(weather dependant, full refund if cancelled due to weather).

Who: A reasonable level of fitness is required as each days trek takes 6-8 hours and involves significant up and down hill.  You can guarantee the attention of your guide as a Maximum of  4 people at a time can be accommodated.

Cost: $750 per person. Under 18 must be accompanied by a responsible adult.

About your Guide: Greg has spent many years shepherding, hunting, trapping, guiding and hiking the high country. He delights in sharing his knowledge and experience of this unique landscape with others.

He treats you as people first and customers second and hopes that you will be friends by hikes end.

His promise- follow his directions and he will bring you back safely having had a wonderful time.

Fill the form here or phone Greg direct on 64 27 6830670 for more information. 

Further details will be emailed when you Book.




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