Mt Malita (959 m) near the head of Aniseed Valley offers a challenging half-day walk within close range of the city. The summit is a hard slog involving nearly 800 m of elevation gain, but those who make the effort are rewarded with stunning views of Tasman Bay and access to some intriguing limestone formations. Forestry road access to within short distance of the summit allows Mt Malita to be climbed by foot or bike.
The start is located at the end of Aniseed Valley Road, 23 km from Richmond. Here there is a car park with a toilet; the car park is also used for walks to Roding Dam and Champion Smelter and Champion Mine. Mt Malita is entirely within the Nelson City Council Roding Water Reserve.
Turn right from the car park, cross the bridge over Roding River and head right on Summit Road. After 1.2 km Old Malita Road splits off to the right. Continue on Summit Road as it continues winding steeply up through the pine forest for 2.5 km to 575 m elevation, at which point it reconnects with Old Malita Road.
Summit road continues to a skid site at 725 m elevation, where the road splits three ways; Burridge road heads left, Spar road heads right, but to get to the summit you must head straight, up the unnamed rough road that climbs straight up the spur through felled pine that has since been replaced by gorse. The next few hundred metres are steep. The road dips briefly into a low saddle that marks the end of the forestry block. The road continues climbing through regenerating native trees and scrub.
The 4WD ends and the walking track climbs steeply up the bank on the left, heading straight up the hill through tall grass, outcrops of limestone and long-dead tree trunks and stumps. The summit is located at the top of the ridge next to the bush edge and is marked by a survey pipe in a limestone outcrop. Just south of the summit there is a locked two-bunk hut (owned by Nelson City Council) nestled next to the tree line.
Just below the summit is a small concrete platform built in 1962 to support a telescope housed in a shelter, which was used by the University of Pennsylvania to investigate the suitability of Mt Malita as a site for an astronomical observatory. Too much light pollution from Nelson and Richmond prevented this from becoming a reality, and instead Mt John near Lake Tekapo was selected as a more appropriate location. The existence of the road to within short distance of the summit is thanks to this project.
Return the way you came.