Overnight Hike with Dogs: Fowlers Pass.

selfie of two women with mountains behind them

Wanda, Maury and their three dogs head on an adventure to Fowlers Pass, Canterbury, meeting some unexpected friends along the way... 

The hike into Fowlers Pass (1296 m) connects Fowlers Hut on Tophouse Road with Stanley Vale and Lake Guyon huts in the St James Conservation Area. It also links to the St James Cycle Trail.

The hike offers a wonderful overnight experience for dogs and humans - we chose this hike as I had done it as a day trip a couple of years ago but never made it to the Stanelyvale hut. It doesn't take long to feel like you are in the wilderness, far away from civilization. It has great variety of walking through wide-open tussock lands, small pockets of beech forest and a wide-open river valley. 

It can get wet and muddy underfoot as the trail is also used by horse riders and cyclists and there are a few river crossings, which were easily manageable as we went in late autumn/early winter.

Wanda and dog crossing a river

There were no fixed plans on where we would camp, but when we came across the Stanleyvale Hut, which is delightful, our decision was made. It's important to note that dogs are not allowed inside the hut but Stanleyvale has kennels out the back if you choose to sleep in the hut without your pooch. 

The hut has had a beautiful makeover by members of the Hanmer Springs Horse Riders - although we camped outside with the dogs. We were delighted to meet Sean (on horseback) from the club on the way into the hut. He's a bit of a fixture in the area with his beautiful, very friendly horse. It was great to chat with him about the work being done in the area on pest and weed control.

Sean and his horse on trail
Unexpected Friends!

The best thing about this trail is you can drive from Christchurch in the morning and, by late afternoon, be camped somewhere utterly stunning - a meadow surrounded by middle-sized hills with the higher Spenser Mountains in the distance with sunrises and sunsets that are glorious. 

two tents and the sunset/sunrise


The best way to prepare your dogs for this hike (or overnight hikes in general) is to have confidence they can sleep comfortably in the tent. Make sure you take an extra groundsheet to protect your tent floor and a super absorbent, lightweight towel to clean them off before getting into the tent for the night as well.

a woman hiking with her dog at a hut

I also brought a warm jacket for one of the dogs who feels the cold and a leash to tether them when setting up camp. There are lots of interesting smells around the hut to distract the dogs and keep them occupied, so they weren't bored.

I would highly recommend this as a great hike to do with your doggies! 

wanda and her two dogs


Packing list for overnight hike with dogs: 

Wanda - 


Mollie and Biskit - Doggies on trail

For the Dogs -

  • The Ruffwear Powder Hound Jacket is the perfect jacket to keep the dogs warm in the tent at night! 
  • Ruffwear Approach Dog Pack are a great way to get a bit of help sharing the load with your four-legged friend. (Biskit carried food for him and Mollie as well as the coats). The handy clip on the top of the pack meant the dogs could be on a lead when needed and the pack load is easily secured. 
  • Ruffwear Highlands Pad – a nice bit of comfort for Mollie as she is an older dog with aging joints. 


a woman and her dogs hiking


Written by Wanda Vivequin who is a trail guide (she takes guiding trips both in NZ and overseas - she has just done a guiding trip to Nepal!), runs the Banks Peninsula Walking Festival and you can find her working in the Further Faster shop from time to time too! She's pretty cool! 

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