Things that will cross your mind as you climb Tobins Drop:
Oh wow look at that view
WHY AM I DOING THIS
This landscape is so stunning
I WANT TO TURN BACK
I can’t believe how beautiful this is
WHY IS MY HAIR SWEATING
Tobins Drop is not for the faint hearted, if you do this track, be prepared to be challenged!
Length: Roughly 6km (depending on where you start from)
Toilet available: No.
Dog friendly: Yes.
Phone reception: Yes.
Difficulty rating: 8/10
Sweat rating: 10/10
There are technically 2 ways to do this track, you can go up it or you can go down it. I value my knees so I have never gone down it, nor will you ever catch me going down it as I’m pretty sure I would end up on my ass sliding down and then slowly gathering speed and eventually plummeting to the river track below like a small human avalanche.
If this sounds like something you would enjoy then head to the start of Tobins Track at the bottom of Ford Street and head on up that way. Once at the top, look for the sign post that says Tobins Drop (behind the bench) and bush bash your way through the thick foliage until you start to descend (watch out for human avalanches.)
I do Tobins Drop when I need a good, sweaty, challenging hike. It’s not technically a loop track as you can get to the base of Tobins drop from a few different starting points, (however keep in mind you will need to make your way back to your car so consider this when choosing your starting point.)
The start of the drop track is along the Arrowtown to Gibbston track so you start anywhere on the Arrow river track and head out towards Gibbston until you see the yellow trail sign on your left. OR you can park near the Southern Discoveries bridge and walk left back along the walking track towards Arrowtown.
As soon as you see the yellow trail sign you will understand why I both love and loathe this track. It is unforgiving and winds consistently upwards in a narrow rocky steep manner through thick bush. The yellow gorse will reach out at you from every angle, its pollen will take it a step further and reach into your nostrils, triggering your usually dormant hayfever and have you sneezing as you climb just to add injury to misery. You will immediately question your sanity and turn around to consider going back down, but that’s when you will see it.
Due to the steep incline the view is stunning almost immediately. Your heart will skip a beat as the mountains rise up all around you and the ridiculously beautiful landscape of Arrowtown starts to show itself. You immediately want to keep climbing so you can see more of it. Lather rinse and repeat this vicious cycle of exhaustion and then astonishment for roughly 2km.
The foliage is so thick that the track in front of you rarely changes and you can’t see the top so the only way that you know you have made any progress is when you turn around. Every single time you look at the view it will have changed, the more exhausted you get the more rewarding the view gets. This will keep you going until you finally break through the encroaching vegetation and emerge at the top of the trail. There is a bench at the top where you can sit and remind your lungs how to breathe normally.
From this point you can see all of Arrowtown and even the blue waters of Lake Wakatipu in the distance. Lake Hayes will wink at you in the sunlight and the boy in the mountain will congratulate you on your climb. You will think to yourself that perhaps this is how people feel when they climb Everest and you will feel the need to take a selfie with the view that will then shock you when you see just how sweaty and red your face is.
Now it’s time to go down. Head to the left and stroll down Tobins Track (roughly 2km), this is a back country type road that rarely has cars on it but it is still used so keep an eye out for cars and horses.
This is the easy bit, stroll or run down this gravel road and enjoy the views the whole way. When you finally get to the bottom you can plunge yourself in the cold river to cool off or else head over the bridge to make your way to the little car park. If you decided to park close to the start of the track you will need to walk along the river track until you get back to your start point.
Watch the weather! For some ridiculous reason I always seem to do this track in summer at the hottest point of the day and I regret it every single time. The wind struggles to get through the thick vegetation and you will consider selling your own mother to the highest bidder in exchange for a gentle breeze to cool you down.
Fill your water bottle with ice cubes and electrolytes. By the time I’m at the top my water is resembling tea from the heat so don’t skimp on the ice! I also carry an extra bottle of water for the dogs in a backpack. This is a dog friendly trail and there used to be a dog water bowl at the top but I think a recent storm did away with that so I recommend grabbing one of those fold up dog bowls and taking it with you. Believe me, they will need it!
Tobins track is a road used by both cars and horses, both are rare but watch out when you are coming around corners or have off leash dogs.
Wear lots of SPF and sandfly spray.
This track gets hammered by storms and weather and looks different every time I do it. Parts of the track has crumbled and needs to be physically climbed, it’s not too difficult but it is something to keep in mind. I would suggest avoiding this track after heavy rain as the steep nature of the track mixed with slippery mud terrifies me to my very core.
Always tell someone where you are going and when you intent to be back.
So there you have it, all the nitty gritty details of Tobins Drop. Just remember: The best views come from the hardest climbs.
If you would like to see me sweat my way to the top of Tobins Drop, the full video of this hike is saved to the highlights on my Instagram
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