Maungatapu Circuit

Maungatapu Circuit
Mount 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 (1014 m). 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.

 

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 Trail Access

Maungatapu Circuit is accessed from the end of Maitai Valley, 11 km from central Nelson (see Access tab above). Park at the car park at the road end. 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 close at 5 pm.

 

 Trail Descriptions
 Rush Pool Track-Maungatapu Track Circuit
Length:  18.6 km Time Required:  6-8 hr return to Maitai Dam
Trail Type:  Tramping track and 4WD road (Maungatapu Track) Uses:  Walking and trail running
Physical Difficulty:  Hard    Primary Direction:  Either
Max Elevation:  1014 m (Maungatapu) Dog Access:  Dogs are prohibited in Maitai Water Reserve
Links to: Dun Mountain Trail, Dun Mountain Summit, Maungatapu Track, Saddle Hill Route
Length:  18.6 km
Time Required:  6-8 hr return to Maitai Dam
Trail Type:  Tramping track and 4WD road (Maungatapu Track)
Physical Difficulty:  Hard   
Uses:  Walking and trail running
Primary Direction:  Either
Start Elevation:  120 m (Maitai Dam)
Max Elevation:  1014 m (Maungatapu)
Dog Access:  Dogs are prohibited in Maitai Water Reserve
Links to: Dun Mountain Summit, Dun Mountain Trail, Maungatapu Track, Saddle Hill Route

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 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, 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 lunch break.

The track climbs over the highest point of the circuit, Maungatapu summit (1014 m). A rocky outcrop opens among the tress 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 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 climb reach the summit. Once at the summit you can descend to Teal Saddle and back to Maitai Dam.

 

 

 Rush Pool Track-Dun Mountain Trail Circuit
Length:  19.7 km Time Required:  6-8 hr return to Maitai Dam
Trail Type:  Tramping track Uses:  Walking and trail running
Physical Difficulty:  Hard    Primary Direction:  Either
Max Elevation:  1143 m (Little Twin) Dog Access:  Dogs are prohibited in Maitai Water Reserve
Links to: Dun Mountain Summit, Dun Mountain Trail, Maungatapu Track
Length:  19.7 km
Time Required:  6-8 hr return to Maitai Dam
Trail Type:  Tramping track
Physical Difficulty:  Hard   
Uses:  Walking and trail running
Primary Direction:  Either
Start Elevation:  120 m (Maitai Dam)
Max Elevation:  1143 m (Little Twin)
Dog Access:  Dogs are prohibited in Maitai Water Reserve
Links to: Dun Mountain Summit, Dun Mountain Trail, Maungatapu Track

This circuit can be completed in either direction.

Begin at the car park next to Maitai Dam. Follow the forestry road that climbs steadily through a block of recently-felled pine forest before gaining the top of a spur and continuing as a walking track through mineral belt scrub 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, 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 right (south) here to continue toward Dun Mountain.

The track along the crest of Bryant Range th and is boggy in sections. The track climbs sharply over the small knob of Little Twin (1143 m), which is the highest point on the circuit. Unfortunately the peak is forested and does not allow for great views. The track drops down into a saddle between Little Twin and Dun Mountain, and then climbs onto the summit ridge of the latter (1129 m). Here the beech forest gives way to the stark mineral belt vegetation, which allows you to enjoy magnificent views in all directions.

The track drops steeply down to Dun Saddle. Turn right here and follow the track back to and connects with Dun Mountain Trail. From here it is a 9 km descent all the way back to Maitai Dam. Be mindful of bikers that may be descending the same way as you.

 

 

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