NELSON TRAILS

Maungatapu Circuit

Mt Richmond Forest Park

Maungatapu Circuit traverses Bryant Range, southeast of central Nelson. Beginning at Maitai Dam, the circuit incorporates Rush Pool Track and Maungatapu Track, via Dew Lakes and Maungatapu. This circuit offers a quieter alternative to Dun Mountain Trail, whilst still showcasing the fascinating mineral belt landscape and the beautiful beech forest along the crest of Bryant Range. There are also several other ways you can utilise the track network to create different half-day to full-day walking circuits.

Details
Distances18.6 km return circuit to Maitai Dam
Time Required6-7 hr return circuit to Maitai Dam
Trail TypeTramping track/4WD road
Physical DifficultyHard   
UsesWalking and trail running
DirectionEither
Start Elevation120 m (Maitai Dam)
Max Elevation1014 m (Maungatapu)
Dog AccessDogs are prohibited in Maitai Water Reserve

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Connections

Maungatapu Track

   Walking, trail running and MTB

Saddle Hill Route

  Walking and trail running

Access

  20 min from central Nelson

 

Maungatapu Circuit is accessed from the end of Maitai Valley (Maitai Dam), east of central Nelson. Park at the car park at the road end, which is 11 km up the Maitai Valley from central Nelson. 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.

Description




This circuit can be completed in either direction.

 

Begin at the car park next to Maitai Dam. 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 16th century 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, alternating between beech forest and mineral belt scrub. It 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 (940 m elevation) after 2-3 hours. Turn left (north) here to continue toward Maungatapu Saddle.

 

Dew Lakes are a short distance from the junction. While their name is somewhat misleading (‘ponds’ would be a more appropriate title), they provide a convenient place to stop for a lunch break. The track then climbs over the highest point of the circuit, Maungatapu summit (1014 m). A rocky outcrop opens among the trees and allows views across the upper Maitai catchment. The track descends from Maungatapu into a saddle and climbs again along the range through elegant silver beech forest, and then descends to Maungatapu Saddle.

 

From here it is an easy walk back down Maungatapu Track, which is a wide 4WD road all the way back to the junction next to the caretaker’s house; here you can continue straight along the road that drops down to the dam crest and leads back to both car parks.

 

From Maungatapu Saddle you can also continue along the ridge on Saddle Hill Route (the Doubles), which climbs to the South Double (1168 m). While the distance is only 2 km, the climb is steep and challenging; allow at least an 1 hr 30 min to reach the summit. Once at the summit you can descend to Teal Saddle and back to Maitai Dam.

Maungatapu Circuit
Mt Richmond Forest Park

Maungatapu Circuit traverses Bryant Range, southeast of central Nelson. Beginning at Maitai Dam, the circuit incorporates Rush Pool Track and Maungatapu Track, via Dew Lakes and Maungatapu. This circuit offers a quieter alternative to Dun Mountain Trail, whilst still showcasing the fascinating mineral belt landscape and the beautiful beech forest along the crest of Bryant Range. There are also several other ways you can utilise the track network to create different half-day to full-day walking circuits.

Details
Distances18.6 km return circuit to Maitai Dam
Time Required6-7 hr return circuit to Maitai Dam
Trail TypeTramping track/4WD road
Physical DifficultyHard   
UsesWalking and trail running
DirectionEither
Start Elevation120 m (Maitai Dam)
Max Elevation1014 m (Maungatapu)
Dog AccessDogs are prohibited in Maitai Water Reserve

If any layers fail to load, try clearing your cache and refreshing the page.

 

Access

  20 min from central Nelson

 

Maungatapu Circuit is accessed from the end of Maitai Valley (Maitai Dam), east of central Nelson. Park at the car park at the road end, which is 11 km up the Maitai Valley from central Nelson. 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.




 

Description

This circuit can be completed in either direction.

 

Begin at the car park next to Maitai Dam. 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 16th century 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, alternating between beech forest and mineral belt scrub. It 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 (940 m elevation) after 2-3 hours. Turn left (north) here to continue toward Maungatapu Saddle.

 

Dew Lakes are a short distance from the junction. While their name is somewhat misleading (‘ponds’ would be a more appropriate title), they provide a convenient place to stop for a lunch break. The track then climbs over the highest point of the circuit, Maungatapu summit (1014 m). A rocky outcrop opens among the trees and allows views across the upper Maitai catchment. The track descends from Maungatapu into a saddle and climbs again along the range through elegant silver beech forest, and then descends to Maungatapu Saddle.

 

From here it is an easy walk back down Maungatapu Track, which is a wide 4WD road all the way back to the junction next to the caretaker’s house; here you can continue straight along the road that drops down to the dam crest and leads back to both car parks.

 

From Maungatapu Saddle you can also continue along the ridge on Saddle Hill Route (the Doubles), which climbs to the South Double (1168 m). While the distance is only 2 km, the climb is steep and challenging; allow at least an 1 hr 30 min to reach the summit. Once at the summit you can descend to Teal Saddle and back to Maitai Dam.




 

Connections

Maungatapu Track

Walking, trail running and MTB

Saddle Hill Route

Walking and trail running

Updated 05 March 2019