Hacket Track follows Hacket Creek through the fascinating 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 a 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.
|Distances: 5.7 km one way to Hacket Hut; 7.4 km return to Whispering Falls; 8.1 km one way to Browning Hut|
|Time Required: 2 hr one way to Hacket Hut; 2 hr return to Whispering Falls; 3 hr one way to Browning Hut|
|Trail Type: 4WD road/Walking track||Physical Difficulty: Easy-Moderate|
|Uses: Walking, running and MTB||Max Elevation: 250 m (Hacket Hut)|
|Dog Access: Permit required for Mt Richmond Forest Park; see local DOC office||Links to: Browning Hut, Te Araroa Trail (Rocks Hut and Mt Starveall), Pelorus Track|
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 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, continuing on the true left. The track enters the Dun Mountain mineral belt, where the surrounding vegetation becomes stunted scrub dominated by manuka, and outcrops of ultramafic rock rich in magnesium, namely Dunite, Rodingite and Serpentinite. Erosion has caused parts of the track to slip away into Hacket Creek; the track has a temporary, narrow alignment around the edge of these sections, so you will need to be careful following the temporary track around these sections. After 2.7 km Whispering Falls track forks to the left.
|Length: 7.4 km return from Hacket car park; 2 km return from Hacket Track turnoff|
Whispering Falls track forks to the left and follows Miner Creek. Note that the bridge that crossed Hacket Creek was washed away in a flood in 2013 and is yet to be replaced. The creek will be impassable following rain. The track bridges Miner Creek, the latter roughly marking the geological boundary between the mineral belt and a sedimentary belt named Wooded Peak limestone, which is mainly composed of sandstone. The track climbs up over water-formed travertine terraces and through lush podocarp forest to Whispering Falls. A form of limestone, travertine has precipitated out of an unnamed stream to form a spectacular rock face and moss-covered overhangs, from which numerous trickles of water quietly fall. The falls are particularly spectacular following rain, and when soil moisture is high during the colder months. Above the falls is a clearing with a picnic table that has good views across the scrubby hills of the mineral belt and further east to Mt Starveall. Return the way you came.
|Length: 9 km return from Hacket car park; 3.7 km circuit back to Hacket Track|
Almost immediately after the turnoff to Whispering Falls another track branches off to the right and heads uphill to historic chromite mines. The rocky track to the mines heads up an unnamed stream gully through mineral belt scrub and wilding pines. The first of the mines (which are horizontal drives into the hillside) are reached after 1 km. There are still several drives in the hillside that you can enter (at your own risk). Some of these mines are home to cave weta, which have been known to leap on you when you shine a torch on them! The drives, and trenches (which have long since collapsed) were constructed in the 1860s, though the small mineral resource means they were never very profitable, and when the chromium price dropped due to the collapse of the cotton trade, production ceased. You can return the way you came back to Hacket Track, or continue along the Old Chrome Road that heads to Serpentine Saddle and loops back to Hacket Track (described below).
The track continues above the mines, reaching the head of the gully and contouring the hillside high above Hacket Creek. This track follows the Old Chrome Road, which was built in the 1860s to service the chromite mines. The rock embankment can still be seen on the track edge in places. Serpentine Saddle (400 m elevation) is reached 1.7 km beyond the mines. Old Chrome Road drops steeply west into Serpentine Valley through private land; it is thought that this route to the mines was chosen over the current track to minimise the number of crossings of Roding River and Hacket Creek. The loop track back to Hacket Track heads north from the saddle, descending through pine and then dropping steeply into Hacket Creek valley, joining the main track about 1 km upstream of the suspension bridge.
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 is reached 5.7 km from Hacket car park and sits in a grassy clearing above the creek. From the hut clearing another track heads east to connect with Browning Track; this is the primary track for those following the Te Araroa Trail south from Pelorus Valley.
|Hut Type: Standard Hut||Capacity: 6|
|Bookings: Not required: first in, first served||Fee: 1 Standard Hut Ticket|
|Facilities: Woodburner, mattresses, plenty of space for tents outside||Altitude: 270 m|
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