Dun Mountain

Dun Mountain
Mount Richmond Forest Park

 

Dun Mountain (1129 m) is located on the Bryant Range in Mt Richmond Forest Park, southeast of central Nelson. It is the namesake of the popular Dun Mountain Trail, as well as the Dun Mountain Mineral Belt and ‘dunite’, the ultramafic rock which the latter largely comprises. Climbing to the summit is a half-day walk from Maitai Dam, typically via a circuit combining Dun Mountain Trail and Rush Pool Track.

 

 Trail Details
Distances:   12.1 km one way Maitai Dam to summit via Dun Mountain Trail;   10.6 km one way Maitai Dam to summit via Rush Pool Track;  22.7 km for Rush Pool Track-Dun Mountain Trail circuit;   2.5 km one way Coppermine Saddle to summit;   2.7 km one way Dun Saddle to Rocks Hut
Time Required:   3-4 hr one way Maitai Dam to summit via Dun Mountain Trail;   4-5 hr one way Maitai Dam to summit via Rush Pool Track;   6-8 hr for Rush Pool Track-Dun Mountain Trail circuit
Trail Type:  Tramping track/Poled route Physical Difficulty:  Hard   
Uses:  Walking and trail running Max Elevation:  1129 m (Dun Mountain) or 1143 m (Little Twin)
Dog Access:  Dogs are prohibited in Maitai Water Reserve Links to:  Dun Mountain Trail, Rush Pool Track, Maungatapu Track, Rocks Hut, Te Araroa Trail
Distances:   12.1 km one way Maitai Dam to summit via Dun Mountain Trail;   10.6 km one way Maitai Dam to summit via Rush Pool Track;   22.7 km for Rush Pool Track-Dun Mountain Trail circuit;   2.5 km one way Coppermine Saddle to summit;   2.7 km one way Dun Saddle to Rocks Hut
Time Required:  3-4 hr one way Maitai Dam to summit via Dun Mountain Trail;  4-5 hr one way Maitai Dam to summit via Rush Pool Track;  6-8 hr for Rush Pool Track-Dun Mountain Trail circuit
Trail Type:  Tramping track/Poled route
Physical Difficulty:  Hard   
Uses:  Walking and trail running
Max Elevation:  1129 m (Dun Mountain) or 1143 m (Little Twin)
Dog Access:  Dogs are prohibited in Maitai Water Reserve
Links to:  Dun Mountain Trail, Rush Pool Track, Maungatapu Track, Rocks Hut, Te Araroa Trail
Map Viewer

 Trail Access

Dun Mountain is best accessed from the end of Maitai Valley, east of central Nelson. Park at the car park at the road end, which is 11 km up the Maitai Valley from central Nelson (see Access tab above). If the gate to the dam is open you can park further up at the car park next to the dam, though take note of the signage that warns the gate will be closed at 5 pm.

You can climb to the summit via either of two tracks; Dun Mountain Trail or Rush Pool Track. Dun Mountain Trail is by far the more popular of the two and is less arduous, though as they both start at Maitai Dam and are roughly the same length, it is a good idea to create a circuit out of both.

 

 Trail Descriptions
 Dun Mountain via Dun Mountain Trail

Cross the pedestrian bridge over Maitai River and head along Dun Mountain Trail as it follows Maitai River South Branch. You will reach the mineral belt after 4.5 km, where the track zig-zags upwards steeply for several kilometres and then gradually climbs the western side of Dun Mountain. Stunted mineral belt vegetation allows great views to Wooded Peak and back toward Maitai Dam. After 8.5 km the track forks; take the left fork to leave Dun Mountain Trail and climb to Dun Saddle.

From Dun Saddle (955 m) the summit track is marked by poles, and climbs steeply onto the broad, tussock-covered summit ridge. Here the gradient eases and the walk is easy-going. Dun Mountain Shelter is 1.1 km from Dun Saddle and the 1129 m elevation summit is 500 m further, where you will enjoy magnificent views of Bryant Range, the Richmond Ranges and Tasman Bay.

You can descend back the way you came to Dun Saddle, or continue north by following the pole markers and return to Maitai Dam via Little Twin (1143 m) and Rush Pool Track.

 

 

 Dun Mountain via Rush Pool Track

Begin at the car park at the Maitai Valley Road end. Instead of crossing the pedestrian bridge over the Maitai River to Dun Mountain Trail, continue along the road that crosses the dam spillway. The track turns uphill to the left along a 4WD Road built to service the transmission pylons that head over Maungatapu Saddle.

The road climbs steadily through a block of recently-felled pine forest before gaining the top of a spur and continuing as a walking track (Rush Pool Track) through mineral belt scrub to the Rush Pool and a historic Maori argillite quarry. The Rush Pool was created by Maori in the 1500s to help quarry argillite. The quarrying process involved lighting a fire beneath rock outcrops to heat them, then dousing the rock with cold water from the pool, causing shards to split and crack off.

Rush Pool Track continues uphill, alternating between beech forest and mineral belt scrub. The track is very rutted in places, and at times is literally a creek bed. You will reach a T junction with Dun Saddle-Maungatapu Saddle Track at the top of Bryant Range, at 940 m elevation. Dew Lakes are located 1 min north of the junction (to the left), though to reach Dun Mountain, turn right (south) at the junction.

The top of the range is forested and flat, though quite boggy. The track climbs over Little Twin (1143 m) before dropping down into a saddle. The stark boundary between beech forest and scrub at the saddle marks the beginning of the mineral belt. From here the track climbs up onto the Dun Mountain summit ridge, where the summit (1129 m, marked by a cairn) is reached after a few hundred metres. Return the way you came or continue south to Dun Saddle and descend back to Maitai Dam via Dun Mountain Trail.

 

 

 Further Reading

M.R. Johnston, Chromite and the Dun Mountain Copper Mining Company, Journal of the Nelson and Marlborough Historical Societies, Vol. 1, Issue 3, November 1983

Dun Mountain Railway (1862-1907)The Prow article

Maitai Valley, NelsonThe Prow article

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