Mount Richmond Forest Park
Gordons Knob (1592 m) is a peak at on the Gordon Range, in Mount Richmond Forest Park, southwest of Nelson. The unmarked route to the summit is a challenging full day return trip through tussock and scree. The easiest way to access Gordon’s Knob is via Inwood Lookout.
Gordon’s Knob is named after William Gordon Bell, who purchased land in the Upper Motueka valley the 1852. Gordon Creek also bears his name, and Golden Downs Forest, which today occupies the land he once owned, is a corruption of the original name ‘Gordon Downs’. The settlement of Belgrove also stems from the Bell surname.
|Length: 13 km return from Inwood Lookout||Time Required: 5-7 hr return from Inwood Lookout|
|Trail Type: Walking track/Unmarked route||Physical Difficulty: Hard|
|Uses: Walking only||Primary Direction: Return|
|Start Elevation: 1025 m (Inwood Lookout)||Max Elevation: 1685 m|
|Dog Access: Permit required for Mt Richmond Forest Park; see local DOC office||Links to: Wai-iti Road (Inwood Lookout), Te Araroa Trail|
The most straight-forward starting point for a return Gordons Knob is Inwood Lookout. Head south from Nelson along State Highway 6. Just past Belgrove turn left onto Wai-iti Valley Road (the main road to St Arnaud from Nelson). The turnoff to Inwood Lookout (Wai-iti Road) is approximately 11 km from Belgrove (see map). Allow 45 min to reach the Wai-iti Road turnoff from Nelson. The forestry road to the lookout, Wai-iti Road, is suitable for 4WD vehicles only. Wai-iti Road heads through recently-felled pine and beneath the power pylons, then climbs northwards up the side of the ridge to 750 m elevation and turns south, climbing straight along the top of the ridge all the way to the lookout. The road is steep and rough in places.
You can reach Gordons Knob via Motueka Gorge, though this is best done as an overnight trip; stay at Hunters Hut and tackle Gordons Knob on the second day, exiting via Inwood Lookout.
Begin on the track that continues south along the ridge from Inwood Lookout. The track alternates between open tussock and beech forest for the first kilometre, before opening up to tussock and low alpine scrub for the rest of the way along. The ridge is reasonably flat for, then starts climbing toward the main Gordon Range, going from 1120 m to 1440 m in approximately 900 m. The poled route to Hunters Hut continues to the top of the ridge (Hunters Hut is 2-3 hr away from this point). You will see a cairn marking the point to turn off to the right (west) to reach Gordons Knob. Follow this route, which is marked by cairns, along the treeline on the northern side of the range, below the peak shown as 1564 m on the topo map (which is unofficially known as North Peak).
This will drop you down into a 1240 m elevation saddle, before you must grind your way back up 400 m up through tussock onto Gordons Knob. You will reach 1640 m elevation amid snow tussock and open scree. Turn left (south) to reach the true summit. The official summit (1592 m) is further north, though the true summit (referred to by some as ‘Gordons Top’) is nearly 100 m higher, at 1685 m.
Return the way you came.
Gordons Knob is an alpine route, so proper preparation and care should be made to ensure a safe trip. The track above Inwood Lookout is very exposed and has a reputation for being windy, so adequate outdoor clothing is essential. Be sure to check the weather forecast before you go. Though the Richmond Ranges do not typically receive as much snowfall as the Western Ranges, Gordons knob usually receives more snow than peaks further north given its exposure to the southwest. Snow and ice may be present for weeks during winter, which will require you to be very careful traversing steeper sections of the route.