Dun Mountain (1129 m) is located on the Bryant Range, east 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 is largely composed of. Climbing the summit involves a half-day walk from the Maitai Dam. Walkers are rewarded with the experience of the fascinating mineral belt landscape and spectacular views across Tasman Bay, Pelorus Valley and the Richmond Ranges.
You can climb to the summit via Dun Mountain Trail or the lesser-used Rush Pool Track. While the summit is a only a relatively short deviation off the Dun Mountain Trail, the track between Coppermine Saddle and the summit is unsuitable for bikes, so fewer people make the extra effort to get there. Rush Pool Track climbs Bryant Range via an historic Maori argillite quarry.
|Distances: 12.1 km from Maitai Valley car park via Dun Mountain Trail; 10.6 km from Maitai Valley car park via Rush Pool Track; 22.7 km full circuit back to Maitai Valley car park; 2.5 km Coppermine Saddle to Summit one way; 2.7 km Dun Saddle to Rocks Hut one way|
|Time Required: 2 hr 30 min – 3 hr from Maitai Valley car park via Dun Mountain Trail one way; 2 hr from Maitai Valley car park via Rush Pool Track one way|
|Trail Type: Walking track/Poled route||Physical Difficulty: Moderate-Hard|
|Uses: Walking and running||Max Elevation: 1129 m|
|Dog Access: Dogs are prohibited in Maitai Water Reserve||Links to: Dun Mountain Trail, Maungatapu Track, Rocks Hut, Te Araroa Trail|
Access and Trail Description
Dun Mountain is best accessed from Maitai Valley Road. Park at the car park at the road end, which is 11 km up the Maitai Valley from central Nelson (see Access tab above). You can reach 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 slightly less arduous. As they are roughly the same length, a good idea to create a circuit out of both.
via Dun Mountain Trail
Begin at the car park at the Maitai Valley Road end. Cross the pedestrian bridge and head along Dun Mountain Trail as it follows Maitai River South Branch and climbs through the mineral belt and along the western slopes of Dun Mountain. After 8.5 km the track splits in two; take the left track, which climbs up the northern side of the gully to Dun Saddle (the right track crosses the gully and climbs to Coppermine Saddle).
Dun Saddle (955 m) marks the boundary between Maitai Water Reserve and Mount Richmond Forest Park. Coppermine Saddle is 900 m (20 min) from Dun Saddle along a track that descends along the southern side of the gully. You can also continue south to Rocks Hut and Te Araroa Trail from here (1 hr away).
From Dun Saddle the poled route to the summit begins climbing immediately up the steep southern slope of the summit ridge. The gradient eases off on the summit ridge and the walk is easy-going. The total lack of trees allows open views in all directions. Dun Mountain Shelter is reached 1.1 km from Dun Saddle and the summit is 500 m further. The 1129 m elevation summit offers magnificent views of Bryant Range, Pelorus Valley and Tasman Bay. You can descend back the way you came to Dun Saddle, or continue north and return to Maitai Dam via Rush Pool Track.
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 road follows the river for 1.2 km before turning 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 pine forest before gaining the top of a spur and continuing as a walking track through kanuka scrub and beech forest to the Rush Pool and 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.
The track continues uphill and at 660 m elevation it crosses an open section of mineral belt scrub, before re-entering beech forest and steepening toward the top of Bryant Range, at 940 m elevation. Here you will reach a T junction with the Dun Saddle-Maungatapu Saddle Track. Dew Lakes are located a short distance north of the junction (to the left), though to reach Dun Mountain, turn right at the junction. The top of the range is forested and flat. The track climbs over Little Twin (1143 m) before dropping down into the saddle between it and Dun Mountain. 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 summit ridge, where the summit (marked by a cairn) is reached after a few hundred metres. Return the way you came or continue south to Dun Saddle and descend Dun Mountain Trail.
Dun Mountain Railway (1862-1907) – The Prow article
Maitai Valley, Nelson – The Prow article