Black Diamond Ridge
Black Diamond Ridge runs from Fringed Hill to Junction Saddle on Dun Mountain Trail, southeast of central Nelson. The ridge is covered in beautiful beech forest, and the track that traverses it is commonly combined with Sunrise Ridge or Dun Mountain Trail to create a technical MTB or trail running route within short distance of the city centre.
Black Diamond Ridge is best ridden west to east, though if you’re on foot it doesn’t matter which direction you do it in. The western end of Black Diamond Ridge Track begins at the summit of Fringed Hill, via Tantragee Saddle and Fringed Hill Road. The beginning of the track is signposted as it enters the beech forest immediately behind the trig and wooden seat.
Alternatively you can join the eastern end at Junction Saddle via Dun Mountain Trail.
Use the public car park next to Maitai Motor Camp as a start/finish point for circuits (see Access tab above).
From Fringed Hill, the track climbs along the ridge (to elevation point 839 m on the topo map) before descending to the low point on the ridge at 713 m elevation. The ridge is quite narrow in places, and slippery roots, inconveniently located tree stumps, steep undulations and rocky drops give the track a Black Diamond technical rating (and probably its name too), and means it is necessary to walk your bike in parts. Brook-Waimarama Sanctuary lies in the valley immediately southwest, and has a ‘halo’ effect in regard to the presence of native birdlife. Species like South Island robin, tui and kerurū fly beyond the sanctuary fence and may be seen amid the mix of silver beech and hard beech trees along the ridge.
The track climbs again to reach a four-way intersection atop a knob (elevation point 812 m on the topo map) after 1.8 km. At this point you can turn left and head north along Sunrise Ridge to the Maitai Dam via Peaking Ridge or Bob Taylor Road, or into Maitai Valley via 629 downhill track. Turning right will drop you down to Third House and Dun Mountain Trail.
After the intersection the track descends toward Junction Saddle where it connects with Dun Mountain Trail.
There is no water along the ridge so be sure to take plenty of your own. The track is also situated at reasonably high elevation so it would be wise to pack some warm layers. There is no mobile phone reception either.