NELSON TRAILS

Castle Rocks Hut

Abel Tasman National Park

Castle Rocks Hut in Abel Tasman National Park is the northern counterpart of the Westland hut that shares its name. Named after the rock outcrop nearby, the hut is located high atop a ridge high above Marahau Valley. It is usually used as the first night stay for trampers traversing the Inland Track from south to north, or as an overnight trip between Canaan Downs and Marahau.

Details
Distances14.3 km one way from Marahau; 8.5 km one way from Canaan Downs car park; 13.7 km one from Awapoto Hut
Time Required5-6 hr one way from Marahau; 3-4 hr one way from Canaan Downs; 5 hr one way from Awapoto Hut
Trail TypeTramping track
Physical DifficultyModerate   
UsesWalking and trail running
DirectionEither
Max Elevation730 m from Marahau or 1010 m from Canaan Downs
Dog AccessDogs are prohibited in Abel Tasman National Park

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Connections

Anchorage (Inland Track)

  Walking and trail running

Marahau (Inland Track and Coast Track)

  Walking and trail running

Access

  50 min from Nelson (Marahau) | 1 hr 30 min from Nelson (Canaan Downs)

 

Though it is much closer to Canaan Downs car park, Castle Rocks Hut is most-commonly accessed from Marahau (via the Coast Track) by trampers walking the Inland Track.

 

Marahau is essentially the gateway to Abel Tasman National Park. Follow the main (and only) road through Marahau. A kilometre past the beachfront you will see plenty of signage indicating the large car park on the right, which is the primary one for Abel Tasman National Park. There are toilets and an information panel with a map that shows times and distances. Though it is large, the car park is often at capacity during the summer months.

 

If you’re tramping to Castle Rocks Hut from Canaan Downs, you will have a longer drive to the start (if coming from Nelson). Follow State Highway 60 to the top of Takaka Hill. Turn right onto Canaan Road, which is just past the Ngarua Cave turnoff. Canaan Road is unsealed, windy and narrow, so drive with caution. It is 11 km from the turnoff to Canaan Downs car park. Since the car park is at 750 m elevation, the trip from Canaan Downs to Marahau is primarily downhill.

Description

Castle Rocks Hut from Marahau

Follow Abel Tasman Coast Track for 2.7 km until just after the Tinline Bay campsite, which is where Inland Track forks to the left. From here Inland Track climbs steadily through regenerating native bush, dominated by kānuka and lush broadleaf ferns in the gullies. The track surface is smooth and sandy, and the gradient is initially gentle, before steepening into a steep grind for a kilometre or so. As you climb you’ll enjoy occasional glimpses towards Anchorage and back across Tasman Bay.

 

After around 2 hr 15 min (4 km) from the Coast Track turnoff you will reach a track junction where a track heads downhill to reconnect with the Coast Track near Anchorage (2 hr 30 min away). Holyoake Clearing Shelter, at 600 m elevation, is a further 15 min past this junction.

 

From Holyoake Clearing the track is rougher, but the gradient is largely undulating with only short uphill sections. The surrounding bush is less disturbed and contains some attractive rimu. Keep an eye and an ear out for kaka and kakariki, both of which are increasing in numbers thanks to Project Janszoon. The track dips in and out of a few stream gullies along the 6.2 km (2-3 hr) to Castle Rocks Hut.

 

Castle Rocks Hut stands in a sunny spot on the edge of a small clearing.

 

Castle Rocks Hut
Hut TypeStandard Hut
Capacity8
BookingsNot required; first in, first served
Fee1 Standard Hut ticket
FacilitiesShared bunk platform with mattresses, woodburner, exterior sink
Altitude720 m

 

Castle Rocks Lookout

Castle Rocks proper are a 20 min walk from the hut. The several granite outcrops that stand on the edge of the ridge provide impressive views over Marahau Valley and further out across Tasman Bay. Note that the track to the rocks is in poor condition, with erosion making some sections difficult.

 

Castle Rocks Hut to Moa Park (1 hr 30 min – 2 hr, 3.6 km)

Moa Park is a further 2 hr along the Inland Track from Castle Rocks Hut. The track climbs up the broadly-sloping Evans Ridge and is uphill most of the way with varying degrees of steepness. The track is not well-graded, with ruts and roots adding to the physical challenge. Dracophyllum becomes numerous a little further up the track and elegant mountain cedar (pahautea) become prominent above 1000 m elevation.

 

Not too long before Moa Park Shelter, the track reaches the top of the ridge (the highest point on the Inland Track; 1050 m) and flattens out. Porters Rock is a worthy 45 min side-trip from here; the track climbs to a large granite outcrop, which provides spectacular views of the interior of Abel Tasman National Park, as well as right across Tasman Bay.

 

2 minutes further on another side track leads to an outcrop just off the track, which allows Moa Park to be viewed from above.

 

Moa Park Shelter is located on a slightly elevated site at the southern end of the basin. The bunks were removed and the hut was downgraded to a shelter. Presumably this was partly due to the its slightly awkward position of being roughly equidistant of Castle Rocks Hut, Wainui Hut and Canaan Downs car park (nearby Holyoake Shelter suffered the same demotion, given its position between Castle Rocks Hut and Abel Tasman Coast Track). You can still camp here, and there are a few flat clearings next to the shelter that provide enough room to pitch a tent.

 

Beyond Moa Park, it is a short distance to a track junction between the continuation of the Inland Track to Awapoto Hut (4 hr away), and Moa Park Track to Canaan Downs car park (1 hr 30 min). Both of the latter can also be used to access Wainui Hut (see map).

Castle Rocks Hut
Abel Tasman National Park

Castle Rocks Hut in Abel Tasman National Park is the northern counterpart of the Westland hut that shares its name. Named after the rock outcrop nearby, the hut is located high atop a ridge high above Marahau Valley. It is usually used as the first night stay for trampers traversing the Inland Track from south to north, or as an overnight trip between Canaan Downs and Marahau.

Details
Distances14.3 km one way from Marahau; 8.5 km one way from Canaan Downs car park; 13.7 km one from Awapoto Hut
Time Required5-6 hr one way from Marahau; 3-4 hr one way from Canaan Downs; 5 hr one way from Awapoto Hut
Trail TypeTramping track
Physical DifficultyModerate   
UsesWalking and trail running
DirectionEither
Max Elevation730 m from Marahau or 1010 m from Canaan Downs
Dog AccessDogs are prohibited in Abel Tasman National Park

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Access

  50 min from Nelson (Marahau) | 1 hr 30 min from Nelson (Canaan Downs)

 

Though it is much closer to Canaan Downs car park, Castle Rocks Hut is most-commonly accessed from Marahau (via the Coast Track) by trampers walking the Inland Track.

 

Marahau is essentially the gateway to Abel Tasman National Park. Follow the main (and only) road through Marahau. A kilometre past the beachfront you will see plenty of signage indicating the large car park on the right, which is the primary one for Abel Tasman National Park. There are toilets and an information panel with a map that shows times and distances. Though it is large, the car park is often at capacity during the summer months.

 

If you’re tramping to Castle Rocks Hut from Canaan Downs, you will have a longer drive to the start (if coming from Nelson). Follow State Highway 60 to the top of Takaka Hill. Turn right onto Canaan Road, which is just past the Ngarua Cave turnoff. Canaan Road is unsealed, windy and narrow, so drive with caution. It is 11 km from the turnoff to Canaan Downs car park. Since the car park is at 750 m elevation, the trip from Canaan Downs to Marahau is primarily downhill.

Description

Castle Rocks Hut from Marahau

Follow Abel Tasman Coast Track for 2.7 km until just after the Tinline Bay campsite, which is where Inland Track forks to the left. From here Inland Track climbs steadily through regenerating native bush, dominated by kānuka and lush broadleaf ferns in the gullies. The track surface is smooth and sandy, and the gradient is initially gentle, before steepening into a steep grind for a kilometre or so. As you climb you’ll enjoy occasional glimpses towards Anchorage and back across Tasman Bay.

 

After around 2 hr 15 min (4 km) from the Coast Track turnoff you will reach a track junction where a track heads downhill to reconnect with the Coast Track near Anchorage (2 hr 30 min away). Holyoake Clearing Shelter, at 600 m elevation, is a further 15 min past this junction.

 

From Holyoake Clearing the track is rougher, but the gradient is largely undulating with only short uphill sections. The surrounding bush is less disturbed and contains some attractive rimu. Keep an eye and an ear out for kaka and kakariki, both of which are increasing in numbers thanks to Project Janszoon. The track dips in and out of a few stream gullies along the 6.2 km (2-3 hr) to Castle Rocks Hut.

 

Castle Rocks Hut stands in a sunny spot on the edge of a small clearing.

 

Castle Rocks Hut
Hut TypeStandard Hut
Capacity8
BookingsNot required; first in, first served
Fee1 Standard Hut ticket
FacilitiesShared bunk platform with mattresses, woodburner, exterior sink
Altitude720 m

 

Castle Rocks Lookout

Castle Rocks proper are a 20 min walk from the hut. The several granite outcrops that stand on the edge of the ridge provide impressive views over Marahau Valley and further out across Tasman Bay. Note that the track to the rocks is in poor condition, with erosion making some sections difficult.

 

Castle Rocks Hut to Moa Park (1 hr 30 min – 2 hr, 3.6 km)

Moa Park is a further 2 hr along the Inland Track from Castle Rocks Hut. The track climbs up the broadly-sloping Evans Ridge and is uphill most of the way with varying degrees of steepness. The track is not well-graded, with ruts and roots adding to the physical challenge. Dracophyllum becomes numerous a little further up the track and elegant mountain cedar (pahautea) become prominent above 1000 m elevation.

 

Not too long before Moa Park Shelter, the track reaches the top of the ridge (the highest point on the Inland Track; 1050 m) and flattens out. Porters Rock is a worthy 45 min side-trip from here; the track climbs to a large granite outcrop, which provides spectacular views of the interior of Abel Tasman National Park, as well as right across Tasman Bay.

 

2 minutes further on another side track leads to an outcrop just off the track, which allows Moa Park to be viewed from above.

 

Moa Park Shelter is located on a slightly elevated site at the southern end of the basin. The bunks were removed and the hut was downgraded to a shelter. Presumably this was partly due to the its slightly awkward position of being roughly equidistant of Castle Rocks Hut, Wainui Hut and Canaan Downs car park (nearby Holyoake Shelter suffered the same demotion, given its position between Castle Rocks Hut and Abel Tasman Coast Track). You can still camp here, and there are a few flat clearings next to the shelter that provide enough room to pitch a tent.

 

Beyond Moa Park, it is a short distance to a track junction between the continuation of the Inland Track to Awapoto Hut (4 hr away), and Moa Park Track to Canaan Downs car park (1 hr 30 min). Both of the latter can also be used to access Wainui Hut (see map).

Connections

Anchorage (Inland Track)

Walking and trail running

Marahau (Inland Track and Coast Track)

Walking and trail running

Updated 20 June 2020