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 - 

  • Took an old summer weight tent but got pretty cold overnight so I have now purchased a Second Arrow Tent. 
  •  Osprey Aura 65 pack is light, comfortable, lots of useful compartments and has served me well for many years.
  • Sea to Summit Flame 1 sleeping bag with a Reactor Thermal Liner to keep me toasty warm. 
  • A Nemo Fillo Luxury Pillow. 
  • For shoes I use the Topo Trailventure 2 WP - Lightweight, waterproof, requires no breaking-in. This is my second pair as I had used a pair during a recent adventure in Nepal. (Keep an eye out for a blog about this coming soon!)
  • Bridgedale Stormsock Midweight Boot Length - These are waterproof socks that I wore around the campsite in my sandals. These socks have a waterproof layer which means even though the outside gets wet, your feet inside stay dry.
  • Montane Tucana Pants - My go-to pants for travel and hiking. They're quick-drying and have a comfortable elastic waistband. 
  • Montane Power Up PRO Pants - Light fleece pants to throw on as soon as I got into camp and perfect to sleep in. (They're an older product here at Further Faster but we do have some Montane Ineo Mission Pants or Montane Thermal Trail Tights that will keep you warm).
  • Montane Katla Pull-On - This is a warm and cozy shirt to wear at camp after a day of hiking and is perfect to sleep in. (Again, this is an older product but the Montane Protium Lite Pull-On or Dart Thermo Zip-Neck are both great options)
  • Montane Fireball Lite Hoodie - The ultimate mid-layer jacket to throw on during a short lunch or snack break. It packs down smaller than a Nalgene bottle and has a snug hood that keeps the heat in for those all-important breaks. 
  • Montane Dart Long Sleeve T-Shirt - An amazing base layer to hike in. Warm and cool when it needs to be. Good fit and also offers good sun protection.  
  • Injinji Trail Midweight Crew Socks - My transition to wearing Injinji socks has been all-consuming. No more blisters between the toes and no more smelly feet! (don't knock them until you've tried them, most of the Team at Further Faster are converts!) 
  • For Dinner I had the Real Meals Wilderness Stew and Cheesy Mash and for breakfast the Bircher Museli. 
  • MSR Pocket Rocket Deluxe for boiling water. 
  • Sea to Summit X Pot - which folds completely flat and takes up no room in my pack. The handles are not hot so, you can pour straight from the pot with no worries. 
  • Outdoor Element Camp Kitchen Cleaning Set to clean up. 
  • Head torch Actik Core 600 Lumen – reliable and trusty headtorch that I can recharge on the fly with a power bank at hand. I did not need to recharge it on this trip though. 
  • And for snacks I had the PURE Energy Chews Lemon for the way up Fowler Pass on the way home, they gave me a turbocharged boost to get me to the top and I also had a Crafty Weka Beetroot Bar which is just yum. 


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! 

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.