The Copland Track on Aotearoa New Zealand’s West Coast, is iconic for a reason. Tramp through lush rainforest, along a beautiful river, past stunning mountain scenery, and at the end of the day, soak your weary muscles in natural hot pools right by the hut. 

Highlights of the Copland Track

  • Explore the lush forest of Aotearoa New Zealand’s West Coast
  • Soak your weary bones in natural hot pools 
  • Enjoy spectacular mountain views 
  • Spend the night in a hut

Mountains, Forest, and Hot Pools – Oh my!

We all love reading about unknown hikes, secluded beaches, and secret waterfalls, but popular tracks are usually popular for a reason. And a lot of the time, it’s not worth missing out on the experience just because you won’t necessarily have the track all to yourself. 

The Copland Track is a good example. It’s an iconic Aotearoa New Zealand hike, as it encompasses lush rainforest, a beautiful river, and stunning mountain scenery. It also has the most beautiful natural hot pools located right by the hut.

All of this combined is enough of a drawcard to even entice those that aren’t necessarily into hiking, to walk the 18km it takes to get to Welcome Flat Hut. While you’ll likely share the 31-bunk hut with at least a few others, the Copland Track is too good not to experience!

Read more: Top New Zealand Hikes

Coasting Along the Copland Track

The Copland Track starts off State Highway 6, approximately 26km south of Fox Glacier. Make sure you pack the essentials and watch out for the sandflies.

You’ll also want to bring river-crossing shoes, as the first thing you‘ll do is cross Rough Creek. If the river’s too high, don’t bother with the hike as all the side creeks will be running too high as well and you won’t make it to the hut. 

Read more: Navigating With a Map & Compass

The first part of the track is quite varied, and you’ll find yourself either in mossy forest, on grassy clearings, or boulder hopping next to the river. Every so often you’ll get a tantalising glimpse of the mountains surrounding you. The grassy area next to Architect Hut makes for a good lunch spot.

With 10km under the belt, you’re roughly halfway in terms of distance, but be warned, most of the climbing is still to come!

Once past Architect Hut, the track starts to gradually incline, and you’ll mainly be surrounded by forest. There are some nice swing bridges to cross, with great views up the side streams, and in some cases even down the valley.

Meanwhile, the track keeps going and just when you’re considering throwing a tantrum about how long you have to hike to get to these bloody hot pools, the hut appears.

Read more: Remember to leave no trace!


Welcome to Welcome Flat Hut. It’s a beauty.

With 31 bunks across four different rooms, this is probably one of the bigger huts outside of the Great Walks. There’s also a sole occupancy room which can be booked for up to four people, and includes a gas cooker, cooking equipment, wood burner, and shower.

There’s usually a hut warden present and if the hut’s fully booked, you might be assigned a bunk instead of being able to pick whichever one you want. 



Now that you’ve found your bunk and dropped your pack, it’s time for what you’ve actually come for – the hot springs. The pools are only a hop, skip, and a jump away from the hut so it’s easiest to change into your togs at the hut. Depending on recent rainfall, the temperature will vary so it’s worth trying the different pools to see which one has the nicest temperature. Make sure to bring a water bottle as it’s easy to get dehydrated after your hike. If you’re lucky, you’ll look up at snowcapped mountains or a beautiful starry night sky (without sandflies trying to eat you alive). 

Read more: Staying Safe Around Swimming Holes



Since there’s not a different track out, you’ll have to retrace your steps to make your way back to the car park. I highly recommend booking two nights at the hut.

With the hike taking 6-7 hours and the fact that you’ll likely have to drive for a few hours afterwards, you would have to get going pretty early the next morning, leaving you hardly any time to enjoy the hot pools. So make sure to book that extra night and while the bulk of the people in the hut pack up and head home, you’ll have a whole day to enjoy the (by now very quiet) hot pools and hut. 



If a whole day of chilling out sounds a little boring, you can do a day hike from Welcome Flat Hut further up the valley to Douglas Rock Hut, which is located in an absolutely stunning spot and provides great views towards the head of the valley. 

Essential Gear for the Copland Track

Please note! Don’t forget to fill out a trip intention form!

How to Get to the Copland Track

The turn-off to the car park is signposted near the Karangarua River bridge. Go through the gate and drive 150 metres down a gravel road to find the car park.

Skill Level

Intermediate (to get an idea of what’s involved plus useful safety advice, you can watch this video)

Distance / Duration

Day 1: 18 km / 6-7 hrs (to Welcome Flat Hut, one way)

Day 2: 15 km / 6 hrs (to Douglas Rock Hut side trip, return)

Day 3: 18 km / 6-7 hrs (to the car park, one way)


Don’t forget! Always check the New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) website when planning any trip to make sure conditions are safe and routes are open.