Mount Richmond Forest Park
Hacket Track follows Hacket Creek through the Dun Mountain ophiolite belt and gives access to Whispering Falls, historic chromite mines and tramping tracks deeper in Mount Richmond Forest Park. It’s a great option for an interesting half-day walk or as an easy overnight tramp, with Hacket Hut and Browning Hut being the second and third closest huts to Nelson respectively.
Hacket Track, Hacket Hut and Hacket Creek are named after Thomas Ridge Hacket (1830-84), a Nelson geologist who was the director of Dun Mountain Mining Company for a time, and also owned land in nearby Serpentine Valley.
Hacket track begins at Hacket car park, 8 km up Aniseed Valley Road and 25 min drive from Richmond (see Access tab above). There are toilets at the car park and a bridge across the Roding River, beneath which there is a great swimming hole to cool off in during summer. Next to the bridge you will find an information panel with a map and track details.
Several companies offer drop-off, pick-up and car relocation services to and from Hacket car park.
The track bridges Roding River and heads east up Hacket Valley, following the true right of Hacket Creek through plantation forest. A suspension bridge crosses the creek and the road becomes a walking track as it continues on the true left. The track enters the Dun Mountain ophiolite (mineral) belt, where the surrounding vegetation becomes stunted scrub dominated by manuka, and outcrops of ultramafic rock rich in chromite, olivine and serpentine.
After 2.7 km the track to Whispering Falls branches off to the left (2 km return, 30 min). Note that the bridge on the latter track that crossed Hacket Creek was washed away in a flood several years ago, so the falls will be unreachable when the creek is running high. Above the falls there is clearing with a picnic table that has good views of the scrubby hills of the mineral belt.
Back on the Hacket Track, almost immediately after the turnoff to Whispering Falls another track branches off to the right and heads uphill to the sites of historic chromite mines (2.2 km return, 30 min). There are still several small mines in the hillside that you can enter (at your own risk). Some of these mines are home to cave weta, which have a tendency to leap on you when you shine a torch on them! At the time of writing (October 2016) the mines were a little difficult to access, as the shrubs around them were overgrown.
Hacket Track continues along Hacket Creek, and soon the scrub of the mineral belt is replaced by pine forestry, which continues for the rest of the 2.6 km to Hacket Hut. Another fork in track is reached 1 km before the hut, where Browning Track heads northeast toward Browning Hut (3.1 km away). Browning Track is the main tramping track for those who have come from Rocks Hut or Pelorus Valley and are finishing at Hacket car park.
Hacket Hut (6 bunks, standard hut) is reached 5.7 km from Hacket car park and sits in a grassy clearing above the creek. No booking is required to stay at the hut but you must buy one Standard Hut ticket to deposit in the honesty box in the hut). From the hut clearing another track heads east to connect with Browning Track; this is the primary track for those following the Te Araroa Track south from Pelorus Valley.
Beyond Hacket Track
Beyond Hacket Hut, Te Araroa Trail continues as a challenging tramping track (known as the Richmond Alpine section), climbing to Starveall Hut (4-5 hrs away) and Mt Starveall. This track has multiple creek crossings and reaches high elevation, and should not be attempted by those without proper preparation and equipment.
Bell, J.M., Marshall, P, de Courcy Clarke, E. (1911) The Geology of the Dun Mountain Subdivision Nelson, New Zealand Geological Survey, Bulletin No. 12