NELSON TRAILS

Mt Fishtail

Mt Richmond Forest Park

Mt Fishtail (1641 m) is a prominent peak at the northeastern end of Mt Richmond Forest Park, in Marlborough. Named due to its twin summits resembling a fishtail from some perspectives, the mountain provides a physically-challenging overnight tramp via Mt Fishtail Track. Initially a leisurely wander though the beautiful native forest of Pine Valley, the track soon transforms into a grueling climb to Fishtail Hut, which is located a few hundred metres below the summit. Mt Fishtail Track begins in Pine Valley, which is a half-hour drive up Northbank Road from State Highway 6, north of Renwick.

Details
Length8.2 km one way to Fishtail Hut
Time Required4-6 hr one way to Fishtail Hut
Trail TypeTramping track
Physical DifficultyHard   
UsesWalking and trail running
DirectionReturn (up and down)
Start Elevation210 m
Finish Elevation1340 m (Fishtail Hut) or 1641 m (Mt Fishtail summit)
Dog AccessPermit required for Mt Richmond Forest Park; see Nelson DOC office


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Connections

Mt Fishtail Track does not connect to any other official tracks.

Access

  1 hr 15 min from Nelson | 30 min from Bleheim

 

Mt Fishtail Track is located on the north bank of the Wairau River, in Wairau Valley. You will need to get onto North Bank Road, which begins immediately north of the Wairau River Bridge on State Highway 6 (5 km north of Renwick). Follow North Bank Road west for 25 km and turn right onto Pine Valley Road; a signpost indicates this is the way to access Mt Fishtail. Follow Pine Valley Road for 5 km until it ends at a small parking area next to Pine Valley Stream. Begin here along the track that follows the true right of the stream. If you have a 4WD vehicle you can ford the stream and continue along the 4WD track on the true left to Mill Flat campsite (which will take 20 mins off your walking time).

 

Check Mt Richmond Forest Park access to check for road closures before you go.

Description

From Mill Flat campsite the track follows the valley floor alongside the true right of the crystal-clear Pine Valley Stream. The forest on the valley floor is beautiful, with a mix of beech and podocarps, and lots of moss on the forest floor. After 20 min you will pass the location of the old Pine Valley Hut, which burnt down in 2014. The gradient is easy-going for the first 3.2 km, after which point the track crosses the stream and immediately begins climbing steeply up a spur. Here you will gain over 500 m elevation in around 1.6 km (a gradient of around 30%). The track is rocky and rooty amid the silver beech. The gradient eases once you’re on the top of the ridge, and openings in the forest allow glimpses of the southern face of Mt Fishtail.

 

The tree line is reached at 1300 m, at which point the track emerges into alpine scrub and the hut becomes visible in the distance, perched on a tussocky slope above a rock escarpment. The remaining distance to the hut sidles the western face of Fishtail, across a steep, active scree slope. Be very careful along this section in winter when ice and snow can make the rocks slippery. Fishtail Hut is small and does not have a woodburner for heating.

 

Return the same way you came.

Fishtail Hut
Hut TypeStandard Hut
Capacity4 bunks
BookingsNot required; first in, first served
Fee1 Standard Hut Ticket
FacilitiesMattresses only (no heating)
Altitude1340 m

There is no official track to the summit. The easiest way is to head up the vegetated area of scree behind the hut. Once you’re at the saddle west of the lower of the two points of the fishtail, it is a straightforward climb along the ridge to the summit at 1641 m. Here you will enjoy spectacular views of the Richmond Ranges, Wairau Valley, and Inland Kaikoura Range. To get back to the hut, return the same way you came. Be very careful as you descend.

Safety

Be sure to let someone know your intentions before you go, and record your visit in Fishtail Hut book. Mt Fishtail is a highly-exposed alpine route, so proper preparation and care is essential to ensure a safe trip. Being on the southwestern aspect of the mountain, the slope the track crosses receives little sunlight in winter; consequently the track can remain icy all day. Check the alpine weather forecast before you go; do not rely on the weather forecast for the nearest town Blenheim, as the alpine weather in the Richmond Ranges are likely to be very different. Make sure you carry plenty of water with you as there are no water sources beyond the valley floor, and in winter the water tank at Fishtail Hut will likely be frozen.

 

See the Mountain Safety Council website for useful information on preparing for the outdoors.

Mt Fishtail
Mt Richmond Forest Park

Mt Fishtail (1641 m) is a prominent peak at the northeastern end of Mt Richmond Forest Park, in Marlborough. Named due to its twin summits resembling a fishtail from some perspectives, the mountain provides a physically-challenging overnight tramp via Mt Fishtail Track. Initially a leisurely wander though the beautiful native forest of Pine Valley, the track soon transforms into a grueling climb to Fishtail Hut, which is located a few hundred metres below the summit. Mt Fishtail Track begins in Pine Valley, which is a half-hour drive up Northbank Road from State Highway 6, north of Renwick.

Details
Length8.2 km one way to Fishtail Hut
Time Required4-6 hr one way to Fishtail Hut
Trail TypeTramping track
Physical DifficultyHard   
UsesWalking and trail running
DirectionReturn (up and down)
Start Elevation210 m
Finish Elevation1340 m (Fishtail Hut) or 1641 m (Mt Fishtail summit)
Dog AccessPermit required for Mt Richmond Forest Park; see Nelson DOC office


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

 

Access

  1 hr 15 min from Nelson | 30 min from Bleheim

 

Mt Fishtail Track is located on the north bank of the Wairau River, in Wairau Valley. You will need to get onto North Bank Road, which begins immediately north of the Wairau River Bridge on State Highway 6 (5 km north of Renwick). Follow North Bank Road west for 25 km and turn right onto Pine Valley Road; a signpost indicates this is the way to access Mt Fishtail. Follow Pine Valley Road for 5 km until it ends at a small parking area next to Pine Valley Stream. Begin here along the track that follows the true right of the stream. If you have a 4WD vehicle you can ford the stream and continue along the 4WD track on the true left to Mill Flat campsite (which will take 20 mins off your walking time).

 

Check Mt Richmond Forest Park access to check for road closures before you go.

Description

From Mill Flat campsite the track follows the valley floor alongside the true right of the crystal-clear Pine Valley Stream. The forest on the valley floor is beautiful, with a mix of beech and podocarps, and lots of moss on the forest floor. After 20 min you will pass the location of the old Pine Valley Hut, which burnt down in 2014. The gradient is easy-going for the first 3.2 km, after which point the track crosses the stream and immediately begins climbing steeply up a spur. Here you will gain over 500 m elevation in around 1.6 km (a gradient of around 30%). The track is rocky and rooty amid the silver beech. The gradient eases once you’re on the top of the ridge, and openings in the forest allow glimpses of the southern face of Mt Fishtail.

 

The tree line is reached at 1300 m, at which point the track emerges into alpine scrub and the hut becomes visible in the distance, perched on a tussocky slope above a rock escarpment. The remaining distance to the hut sidles the western face of Fishtail, across a steep, active scree slope. Be very careful along this section in winter when ice and snow can make the rocks slippery. Fishtail Hut is small and does not have a woodburner for heating.

 

Return the same way you came.

 

Fishtail Hut
Hut TypeStandard Hut
Capacity4 bunks
BookingsNot required; first in, first served
Fee1 Standard Hut Ticket
FacilitiesMattresses only (no heating)
Altitude1340 m

 

There is no official track to the summit. The easiest way is to head up the vegetated area of scree behind the hut. Once you’re at the saddle west of the lower of the two points of the fishtail, it is a straightforward climb along the ridge to the summit at 1641 m. Here you will enjoy spectacular views of the Richmond Ranges, Wairau Valley, and Inland Kaikoura Range. To get back to the hut, return the same way you came. Be very careful as you descend.

Safety

Be sure to let someone know your intentions before you go, and record your visit in Fishtail Hut book. Mt Fishtail is a highly-exposed alpine route, so proper preparation and care is essential to ensure a safe trip. Being on the southwestern aspect of the mountain, the slope the track crosses receives little sunlight in winter; consequently the track can remain icy all day. Check the alpine weather forecast before you go; do not rely on the weather forecast for the nearest town Blenheim, as the alpine weather in the Richmond Ranges are likely to be very different. Make sure you carry plenty of water with you as there are no water sources beyond the valley floor, and in winter the water tank at Fishtail Hut will likely be frozen.

 

See the Mountain Safety Council website for useful information on preparing for the outdoors.

Connections

Mt Fishtail Track does not connect to any other official tracks.

Updated 26 January 2019