Kahurangi National Park
Mt Arthur (1795 m) is one of the highest points on the Arthur Range and forms part of the iconic outline on Nelson’s western horizon. Located within Kahurangi National Park, Mt Arthur and the neighboring Twins (1796 m and 1809 m) comprise fascinating karst landscapes, with glacially-molded cirques, spectacular outcrops of ancient marble, and rolling tussock ridges. The area is riddled with caves and sinkholes, and is the location of New Zealand’s deepest cave systems (Nettlebed and Ellis Basin), the exploration of which are ongoing. Mt Arthur is named after Captain Arthur Wakefield, who played a significant role in the European settlement of Nelson.
The network of tracks that traverse Mt Arthur and the surrounding peaks, ridges and valleys are popular among day walkers and trampers. At 930 m elevation, Flora car park provides easy access to the alpine environment. Flora car park can also be used as a starting point for multi-day tramps to places further afield, such as the Tableland, Cobb Valley, and the Leslie-Karamea Track.
Walks from Flora car park
|Flora Hut||Mt Arthur Hut||Mt Arthur Summit|
|Lodestone||Gordons Pyramid||Salisbury Lodge and the Tableland|
Flora car park is located at the end of Graham Valley Road, southwest of Motueka. Grahams Valley Road begins off Motueka River West Bank Road near Ngatimoti, and is approximately 65 km from Nelson and 21 km from Motueka. The car park is located 10 km up Graham Valley Road, at the road end. Be aware that Graham Valley Road is steep and unsealed, and can be icy and snowy in winter. A 4WD vehicle is recommended, especially in winter. The road is also prone to slips, so check DOC Alerts webpage for road access updates. All tracks on Mt Arthur are located entirely within Kahurangi National Park. Several companies offer drop-off, pick-up and car relocation services to and from Flora car park.
Flora car park to Mt Arthur Hut
|Distances: 3.5 km from Flora car park||Time Required: 1 hr from Flora car park|
|Trail Type: Walking track||Physical Difficulty: Easy-Moderate|
|Uses: Walking and running||Primary Direction: Either|
|Start Elevation: 930 m||Finish Elevation: 1300 m|
Begin by following the 4WD Road from Flora car park. This will take you to Flora Saddle (975 m), where Mt Arthur Track forks to the left. The well-graded track has a gentle gradient as it climbs onto a ridge in a southwest direction, initially passing through silver beech which transitions to mountain beech and dracophyllum along the top of the ridge. The track steepens and winds its way up to Mt Arthur Hut, which sits just below the treeline at 1300 m. There are great views of Tasman Bay and the Arthur Range from just uphill of the hut.
Mt Arthur Hut
|Hut Type: Serviced Hut||Capacity: 8 bunks|
|Bookings: Not required: first in, first served||Fee: 1 Serviced Hut Ticket|
|Facilities: Woodburner, mattresses, space for a few tents outside||Altitude: 1300 m|
|Mt Arthur Hut to…||Distance and Time|
|Salisbury Lodge (via Gordons Pyramid)||8.9 km, 3-4 hr|
|Ellis Basin Hut||6.4 km, 2-3 hr|
|Flora Hut||2.5 km, 45 min|
Mt Arthur Summit
|Length: 17.3 km return to Flora car park; 8.8 km return to Mt Arthur Hut||Time Required: 4-6 hr return to Flora car park; 3-4 hr return to Mt Arthur Hut|
|Trail Type: Poled route||Physical Difficulty: Moderate-Hard|
|Uses: Walking only||Max Elevation: 1795 m|
It is another 5 km to Mt Arthur summit, along the poled Mt Arthur Summit Route. The track is physically-demanding (partly due to the concentration required on the technical rocky sections), especially in snowy conditions. Though the track is well-worn and marked with poles, in winter and spring deep snow will cover the track, meaning you must pay close attention to the poles.
The track to the summit continues above Mt Arthur Hut, where the beech forest makes way for rolling tussock, alpine shrubs and marble outcrops. The summit comes in view as you continue along the range, climbing gently at first, before entering a moderate-grade climb as the ridge steepens. The sidles the mountain slope above on the eastern side of Horseshoe Basin. 1.8 km after Mt Arthur Hut the route to Gordon’s Pyramid and Tablelands branches right, descending into Horseshoe Basin. If you are lucky you may see (or hear) Kea. Just before Winter Peak, the track climbs over and around amazing outcrops of glaciated marble, which requires a bit of attention to make sure you get your foot placement correct. Ellis Basin Route branches off to the left, eventually reaching Ellis Basin Hut (1 hr 30 min away). Soon after, you will reach the saddle between Winter Peak and Mt Arthur. The last few hundred metres to the summit crest are a steep rocky scramble. Note that the area below the summit is susceptible to avalanches in winter, so you will need to access the risk before traversing.
The summit is gently sloping and covered in loose stones, and is a good picnic spot on a fine day. A circular cairn offers protection from the southerly wind. From the summit there are spectacular views south towards The Twins, west to the interior of Kahurangi National Park and east across Tasman Bay.
Descend from the summit by returning the way you came.
Flora Hut-Mt Arthur Hut Circuit
|Length: 4 km Flora car park to Flora Hut return; 9.2 km Flora Hut-Mt Arthur Hut circuit|
|Time Required: 1 hr 15 min Flora car park to Flora Hut return; 3-4 hr Flora Hut-Mt Arthur Hut circuit|
|Trail Type: 4WD road/Walking track||Physical Difficulty: Easy-Moderate|
|Uses: Walking only||Primary Direction: Either|
|Start Elevation: 930 m||Max Elevation: 1330 m|
Begin along the 4WD road from Flora car park. At Flora Saddle, continue along the 4WD road as it descends through beech forest with Flora Stream flowing on the right. Flora Hut is reached after 2 km (30 min).
|Hut Type: Basic Hut||Capacity: 12 bunks|
|Bookings: Not required: first in, first served||Fee: No fee|
|Facilities: Woodburner, mattresses, plenty of space for tents outside||Altitude: 920 m|
Behind the hut the track to Mt Arthur Hut climbs the beech-forested ridge. Mt Arthur Hut is 2.5 km from Flora Hut and will take around 1 hr 15 min to reach (45 min if you’re heading in the opposite direction). It is uphill most of the way to Mt Arthur Hut, until the ridge flattens at about 1300 m elevation, and the track passes through a few clearings of sub-alpine scrub. The track connects to Mt Arthur summit Route just above Mt Arthur Hut. Enjoy the gentle descent back to Flora car park. Keep an eye out for endemic Powelliphanta snails which may occasionally be seen beside the track.
Be sure to indicate your intended route in the visitor book at Flora Kiosk. The track above Mt Arthur Hut is an alpine route, so proper preparation and care should be made to ensure a safe trip. This track reaches a high elevation and is exposed above the treeline, so proper outdoor clothing is essential. Be sure to check the alpine weather forecast before you go. Do not rely on weather forecasts for the nearest town, Motueka, as the alpine weather may be drastically different.
When the mountain is free of snow, climbing the summit does not require expert climbing or mountaineering skills, though for winter trips snowcraft skills and equipment is recommended, particularly as there is risk of small avalanches below the summit crest. Deep snow may lie above the treeline throughout winter and spring, so consider the extra time this will add to your trip.
The karst landscape is riddled with caves and sinkholes. Do not deviate off the track, especially in winter, when snow will disguise the true ground surface.
Mobile phone coverage is possible at Flora car park and above the treeline on Mt Arthur, though it is intermittent at best throughout the remainder of the area. Flora car park has been the target for thieves so do not leave valuables in your car.
Mount Arthur and the Tableland – The Prow article
Day Walks Activity Guide – NZ Mountain Safety Council