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Hunter’s Hut, Mt Richmond Forest Park

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April 2022 Issue

A short drive from Nelson, this overnight trip provides quick access to stunning alpine ridgelines and the otherworldly landscapes of the mineral belt. By Dena Valenta

The track begins at Inwood Lookout (1051m), which is accessed via a 4WD forestry road, and almost immediately emerges into sub-alpine terrain. The Gordon Range looming ahead. 

Soon there’s a steady, rocky climb up a ridgeline. Follow the poles, not the cairns, up the ridge – the cairned route leads to Gordon’s Knob.

At 1500m, the track reaches alpine tops of the Gordon Range and levels out. It veers north towards Pt1519 and trampers are rewarded with panoramic views of the Nelson-Tasman region, taking in Tasman Bay and the peaks of Kahurangi National Park, while to the south the Richmond Range beckons. 

The track briefly skirts the ridgeline, weaving between rocky outcrops.

South of Pt1519, the track drops into beech forest and descends steeply to the river valley below at 700m. Here, the track is rooty and there’s windfall in places.

At the valley floor, the track joins Te Araroa Trail and heads east along the true right of the Motueka River Left Branch. Two streams are forded. Beech trees soon give way to hardy shrubs that survive in the low fertility soil of the mineral belt. The track becomes less defined and there is some boulder-hopping along the riverbed. Orange triangles continue to point the way, though they are not always easy to spot.

After about a kilometre, the track crosses the river before ascending to Hunter’s Hut. An orange triangle on the true left of the river indicates the crossing point. It is straightforward in normal flows, but may be impassable after heavy rain. There are good swimming holes in the vicinity.

A short, steep climb from the river brings trampers to Hunters Hut, a cosy eight-bunker boasting spectacular views up the valley toward Mt Ellis. The hut was built in 1997 to replace Bush Edge Hut, which was destroyed by a flash flood in 1995, killing two Department of Conservation workers. Parts of the old hut can still be spotted near the crossing point of the river.

Return along the same route to Inwood Lookout. 

Further exploration is possible by ascending Porter Ridge behind the hut to access Red Hill (1791m) and numerous minor peaks. Alternatively, Te Araroa Trail can be followed north-east to Mt Ellis (1615m) or south to Porters Creek Hut. 

16.3km return
Total Ascent
4-5hr to hut
Hunter’s Hut ($5, eight bunks)
PInwood Lookout, Wai-iti Road (4WD only), 20km south-west of Wakefield

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