Jollie Brook Circuit is cirka 30 kms loop track close to Lake Sumner. To get there, there is about a 40 kms gravel road stretch that was quite easy to follow with 2WD. You can start the track on one of two swing bridges over Hurunui River. They’re about 3 kms apart and they’re connected via a bumpy track.
We started off by the first swing bridge. The part between two bridges was quite overgrown with some matagouri and I regretted I didn’t take loopers with me. Rest of the track to Gabriels Hut was straightforward, mostly flat and easy to follow. Gabriels Hut is a wee DIY hut with four bunks and an open fire. From Gabriel Hut to Jollie Brook Hut we followed a track along Gabriel Stream. It’s generally quite easy with a hundred meters height gain to the saddle between Gabriel Hut and Jollie Brook Hut.
Jollie Brook Hut is a great place to stay with many flat campsites around the hut and drinking water from a stream. After Jollie Brook, the track often gets overgrown and unclear and it would benefit from remarking. There are countless easy river crossings. We lost the track a few times and we had to bushbash through matagouri and broom forests. In general, if you’re unsure, it’s better to stay in the river bed of Jollie Brook stream. When we reached the pt598, on NZ Topo Map, the track goes around the hill but the actual marked track goes over the hill. It’s definitely easier to go over the hill ridge – we stayed in the riverbed and it took us about 40 min of riverbed travel to get around the hill. Going over would have taken less than 10 minutes. From the junction with Cold Stream Hut Track, the track going back to the car park is getting better and better and the last few kilometers is fairly easy to smash in an hour or so.
As we started this tramp around 11 AM, we took it easy and camped around a kilometer from the car park. In general, there are plentiful suitable sites to camp along the track. The whole tramp is doable in one longish day but I think that dividing it into 2 days with sleeping at Jollie Brook Hut would be even better. Be prepared for sandflies invasion though, there were so many of them that it was hard to do anything outside of our tents.
Great track overall, very green and pleasant. I’ll surely come back, possibly make a CTC tramp out of this.
Participants: me, Kupkin
Rough stats: 29 km, 600m up
Tramped on 4-5th January 2021
Max elevation: 780 m
Min elevation: 455 m