Mount Richmond Forest Park
Mt Starveall (1511 m) is at located at the southern end of Bryant Range in Mount Richmond Forest Park. The gut-busting 930 m climb from Hacket Hut to Starveall Hut forms part of the Richmond Alpine Section of the Te Araroa Trail, and is great as a challenging overnight trip or as part of a multi-day tramp. Starveall Hut is located a few kilometers below Mt Starveall summit.
Mt Starveall is named after the experience of a stockman, who in the mid 1800’s was searching the Richmond Ranges for a suitable route to drive sheep from Nelson to Wairau Valley. After leading his stock to the summit of Mt Starveall he found that they were unable to consume any of the alpine vegetation, and declared that the mountain would ‘starve all’ of his flock.
Mt Starveall is part of the great network of tracks that dissect Mount Richmond Forest Park, meaning there are numerous possible starting locations. The most straight-forward way to access Mt Starveall is via Hacket car park in the Aniseed Valley. The track begins at Hacket car park, 8 km up Aniseed Valley Road and 25 min drive from Richmond. The track up Starveall heads directly south from Hacket Hut.
Many trampers climb Mt Starveall as part of a multi-day tramp along the Te Araroa Trail, which travels up the Pelorus Valley and over Totara Saddle to reach Hacket Hut.
There are two other ways to reach Starveall Hut from the western side of Mount Richmond Forest Park; one is via Lucy Creek Knob (807 m), the other is Serpentine (942 m), though both pass through private property and permission must be obtained. These tracks approach Starveall Hut from the west.
South of Starveall, Te Araroa Trail continues on to Slaty Hut below Slaty Peak (1544 m). This is the easiest way to access the mountain from the Wairau Valley side of Mount Richmond Forest Park.
Hacket Hut to Starveall Hut
From Hacket Hut the track follows Hacket Creek. There are eight creek crossings at the track follows the stream gully, so be prepared to get your feet wet. As the DOC signs warn, under no circumstances should you try and cross when Hacket Creek is running high. After 1.5 km the track climbs steeply out of the creek gully and continues in a southerly direction, ascending reasonably steadily through beech forest.
The track follows a narrow ridge and skirts around Pyramid Rock after 2.8 km, at 660 m elevation. Pyramid Rock is easily missed as it requires a short deviation off the track to see. This roughly marks the halfway point between Hacket Hut and Starveall Hut. Continuing on, the track climbs steadily through the beech forest at a slightly gentler gradient, though there are brief steep sections and some boggy sections as small streams are crossed. The track steepens over the last half-kilometre as it zig-zags up toward the hut.
Starveall Hut (Standard Hut; 6 bunks with woodburner and mattresses) is located at 1180 m elevation in a saddle on a spur coming off the northern end of Starveall. It is positioned next to a rocky slope overlooking a gully to the south and has impressive views of the western face of Starveall.
Mt Starveall Summit
Mt Starveall summit is 2.53 km from Starveall Hut. To reach the summit, continue east up the spur from the hut. The track climbs over rocky outcrops and passes through patches of stunted mountain beech and tussock, and joins the northern end of the summit ridge. Te Araroa Trail does not reach Starveall summit and instead descends to the south east along a forested ridge toward Slaty Peak and Slaty Hut (5.1 km, 2-3 hrs away). Do not follow it; instead, deviate to the right along the well-worn path through the tussock. The official summit of Mt Starveall (1511 m) is not the highest point, so continue south along the ridge for 300 m to reach the true summit (1528 m). Travel along the summit ridge is easy-going through tussock, short alpine shrubs and open rocky patches. The summit offers amazing views southwest towards the impressive Mt Rintoul, south toward the Inland Kaikoura Ranges and west across the Waimea Plains.
The track to the summit of Mt Starveall 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 weather forecast before you go. The Richmond Ranges do not typically receive as much snowfall as the Western Ranges, though in winter you must always be prepared for freezing conditions, and if snow and ice and are present, take extreme care climbing the spur between Starveall Hut and Mt Starveall summit.