NELSON TRAILS

Ben Nevis

Mt Richmond Forest Park

Ben Nevis (1619 m) is a peak in Mt Richmond Forest Park, southwest of Nelson. Beginning in Wairoa Gorge, Ben Nevis Track climbs along Gibbs Spur to the trig at the summit, and is a half-day return walk involving 800 m of elevation gain. Experienced trampers can continue beyond the summit along the crest of the range to connect with Te Araroa Trail for multi-day tramps. The term ‘Ben’ means mountain in Scottish Gaelic. ‘Ben Nevis’ is an Anglicisation of ‘Beinn Nibheis’, which is commonly translated to ‘mountain of the heaven’. This particular Ben Nevis is second highest of the three peaks in New Zealand that share the name.

Details
Length 9.6 km return
Time Required 5-6 hr return
Trail Type Tramping track
Physical Difficulty Hard   
Uses Walking and trail running
Direction Return (up and down)
Start Elevation 820 m
Max Elevation 1619 m
Dog Access Permit required for Mt Richmond Forest Park; see Nelson DOC office


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Connections

Ben Nevis Track does not connect to any other official tracks. Experienced parties may continue along the ridge to Mt Ellis and Te Araroa Trail, though this route is unmarked and highly exposed.

Access

  1 hr from Nelson

 

From Nelson, head south along State Highway 6 to Wakefield and turn left onto Church Valley Rd, which becomes Pig Valley Rd and is unsealed from here on. Continue straight at the intersection with Wairoa Gorge Rd, and follow the latter for 5 km until Old Mill Rd forks on the left, bridging Wairoa River Right Branch. Note that Wairoa Gorge Rd is narrow and windy, so drive with caution. Head up Old Mill Rd for 2.7 km and then turn right onto Boundary Rd as it begins up the hillside into pine forest (look for the small DOC sign on the left).

 

Boundary Rd is steep, rough and windy, so it is suitable for 4WD vehicles only and is currently open only on weekends. There are a few forestry roads that branch off from Boundary Rd, so pay attention to the orange markers that indicate the correct route. The last few hundred metres of the road before the beginning of Ben Nevis Track is particularly steep and deeply rutted; you may find that the best option is park in the small siding on the right, opposite the DOC ‘Track’ sign. The first few hundred metres of the track crosses private land (you will see the start of a Wairoa Gorge MTB Park track), then the rest of the track is in Mt Richmond Forest Park.

 

View Mt Richmond Forest Park access updates to check for closures before you go. Logging, and high fire risk in summer will close access.

Description

Beginning at the DOC sign at the end of the road, Ben Nevis Track emerges from the forestry block and climbs steeply up Gibbs Spur through open scrub and douglas fir trees before entering beech forest. After 1.6 km a meadow is reached, where the track climbs up around rocky crags, which drop steeply to the east into Wairoa River valley. The track re-enters beech forest and is undulating for another kilometre until 1350 m elevation, when the tree line is reached.

 

The track continues winding steeply upwards through tussock and rocky outcrops, with cairns marking the route. The trig at the summit is positioned on the crest of the range at 1619 m elevation. Here you will enjoy expansive views north and west over the Tasman Bay hinterland, and south toward the distinctive hue of Red Hill.

 

Return the way you came.

 

From the trig at the summit an unmarked route continues southwest along the range to connect with Te Araroa Trail near Mt Ellis (approx. 6 km away), creating connections to Hunters Hut and Top Wairoa Hut. Travel along the range is straight-forward for experienced trampers in clear, snow-free conditions. Expect the range traverse to take 2 hours.

Safety

Ben Nevis is an alpine route, so proper preparation and care should be made to ensure a safe trip. This track reaches a high elevation and is exposed above the tree line, so proper outdoor clothing is essential. Be sure to check the alpine weather forecast before you go. The Richmond Ranges do not typically receive as much snowfall as the western ranges, though you must always be prepared for freezing conditions and take extreme care if snow and ice and are present.

Ben Nevis
Mt Richmond Forest Park

Ben Nevis (1619 m) is a peak in Mt Richmond Forest Park, southwest of Nelson. Beginning in Wairoa Gorge, Ben Nevis Track climbs along Gibbs Spur to the trig at the summit, and is a half-day return walk involving 800 m of elevation gain. Experienced trampers can continue beyond the summit along the crest of the range to connect with Te Araroa Trail for multi-day tramps. The term ‘Ben’ means mountain in Scottish Gaelic. ‘Ben Nevis’ is an Anglicisation of ‘Beinn Nibheis’, which is commonly translated to ‘mountain of the heaven’. This particular Ben Nevis is second highest of the three peaks in New Zealand that share the name.

Details
Length 9.6 km return
Time Required 5-6 hr return
Trail Type Tramping track
Physical Difficulty Hard   
Uses Walking and trail running
Direction Return (up and down)
Start Elevation 820 m
Max Elevation 1619 m
Dog Access Permit required for Mt Richmond Forest Park; see Nelson DOC office


If any layers fail to load, try clearing your cache and refreshing the page.

 

Access

  1 hr from Nelson

 

From Nelson, head south along State Highway 6 to Wakefield and turn left onto Church Valley Rd, which becomes Pig Valley Rd and is unsealed from here on. Continue straight at the intersection with Wairoa Gorge Rd, and follow the latter for 5 km until Old Mill Rd forks on the left, bridging Wairoa River Right Branch. Note that Wairoa Gorge Rd is narrow and windy, so drive with caution. Head up Old Mill Rd for 2.7 km and then turn right onto Boundary Rd as it begins up the hillside into pine forest (look for the small DOC sign on the left).

 

Boundary Rd is steep, rough and windy, so it is suitable for 4WD vehicles only and is currently open only on weekends. There are a few forestry roads that branch off from Boundary Rd, so pay attention to the orange markers that indicate the correct route. The last few hundred metres of the road before the beginning of Ben Nevis Track is particularly steep and deeply rutted; you may find that the best option is park in the small siding on the right, opposite the DOC ‘Track’ sign. The first few hundred metres of the track crosses private land (you will see the start of a Wairoa Gorge MTB Park track), then the rest of the track is in Mt Richmond Forest Park.

 

View Mt Richmond Forest Park access updates to check for closures before you go. Logging, and high fire risk in summer will close access.

Description

Beginning at the DOC sign at the end of the road, Ben Nevis Track emerges from the forestry block and climbs steeply up Gibbs Spur through open scrub and douglas fir trees before entering beech forest. After 1.6 km a meadow is reached, where the track climbs up around rocky crags, which drop steeply to the east into Wairoa River valley. The track re-enters beech forest and is undulating for another kilometre until 1350 m elevation, when the tree line is reached.

 

The track continues winding steeply upwards through tussock and rocky outcrops, with cairns marking the route. The trig at the summit is positioned on the crest of the range at 1619 m elevation. Here you will enjoy expansive views north and west over the Tasman Bay hinterland, and south toward the distinctive hue of Red Hill.

 

Return the way you came.

 

From the trig at the summit an unmarked route continues southwest along the range to connect with Te Araroa Trail near Mt Ellis (approx. 6 km away), creating connections to Hunters Hut and Top Wairoa Hut. Travel along the range is straight-forward for experienced trampers in clear, snow-free conditions. Expect the range traverse to take 2 hours.

Safety

Ben Nevis is an alpine route, so proper preparation and care should be made to ensure a safe trip. This track reaches a high elevation and is exposed above the tree line, so proper outdoor clothing is essential. Be sure to check the alpine weather forecast before you go. The Richmond Ranges do not typically receive as much snowfall as the western ranges, though you must always be prepared for freezing conditions and take extreme care if snow and ice and are present.

Connections

Ben Nevis Track does not connect to any other official tracks. Experienced parties may continue along the ridge to Mt Ellis and Te Araroa Trail, though this route is unmarked and highly exposed.

Updated 26 January 2019