Rocks Hut

Rocks Hut
Mount Richmond Forest Park

 

Rocks Hut is located south of Dun Mountain, in Mt Richmond Forest Park. It is the closest hut to central Nelson (11 km as the crow flies) and is a good destination for overnight tramps or multi-day tramps to Hacket Valley or Pelorus Valley. The easiest way to access the hut is via Dun Mountain Trail, which climbs through the captivating landscape of the Dun Mountain mineral belt. Rocks Hut is also the third hut on the Mt Richmond section of the Te Araroa Trail.

 

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 Trail Access

The easiest way to access Rocks Hut from Maitai Dam, via Dun Mountain Trail. Begin at the car park at the Maitai Valley Road end (12 km from central Nelson) and head up Dun Mountain Trail. You can also climb Dun Mountain Trail from the Brook Valley end, though this will add an extra 8 km to your trip.

As outlined in the trail descriptions below, you can get to Rocks Hut via Middy Hut or Browning Hut, both of the latter being on Te Araroa Trail. You can begin multi-day tramps from Pelorus Valley or Hacket Track.

 

 Trail Descriptions
 Maitai Dam to Rocks Hut (Dun Mountain Trail)
Length:  12.5 km Maitai Dam to Rocks Hut;  2.8 km Dun Saddle to Rocks Hut Time Required:  5-6 hr
Trail Type:  Tramping track Physical Difficulty:  Moderate   
Uses:  Walking and trail running Dog Access:  Dogs are prohibited in Maitai Water Reserve
Start Elevation:  120 m (Maitai Dam) Finish Elevation:  810 m (Rocks Hut)
Distances:  12.5 km one way
Time Required:  5-6 hr
Trail Type:  Tramping track
Physical Difficulty:  Moderate   
Uses:  Walking and trail running
Start Elevation:  120 m (Maitai Dam)
Finish Elevation:  810 m (Rocks Hut)

Begin at the car park at Maitai Valley Road end and follow Dun Mountain Trail. The first 3.3 km climbs gently alongside Maitai River South Branch, before bridging it and entering the mineral belt. The trail zig-zags steadily upwards through coarse scrub and mineral-rich rocks, before leveling off and sidling the western slope of Dun Mountain.

After 8.7 km the track forks; take the left fork and climb to Dun Saddle. Dun Saddle (955 m) marks the boundary between the Maitai Water Reserve and Mt Richmond Forest Park. The saddle is quite bare, with only a few tufts of tussock amid the bare gravel and rock outcrops.

From Dun Saddle the track descends gently southwest along a broad ridge, stepping down though tussock and rocky outcrops. Though the ridge lies east of the mineral belt, the influence of the underlying ultramafic geology on the vegetation characteristics is obvious, with kānuka and lancewood common amid the silver beech. The ridge is quite boggy in sections, so blocks of wood have been laid down on parts of the track to allow easy crossing. Rocks Hut is 1 hr (2.8 km) from Dun Saddle.

Rocks Hut, named after nearby outcrops on the ridge called The Rocks, sits in a small clearing amid kānuka trees. A deck extends around the western and southern sides of the hut, and there is a rainwater tank and basin on the exterior. The hut also has the luxury of a flushing toilet. A short track to a lookout starts close the hut. The lookout provides good views west across the mineral belt.

 

Rocks Hut
Hut Type:  Standard Hut Capacity:  16 bunks Bookings:  Not required; first in, first served Fee:  1 Standard Hut Ticket
Facilities:  Woodburner, mattresses, flush toilet, space for a few tents outside Altitude:  810 m

 

On the return leg you can retrace your steps back to Dun Saddle and down Dun Mountain Trail to the dam. Alternatively you can continue north from Dun Saddle over Dun Mountain Summit and descend Rush Pool Track. You can also follow Dun Mountain Trail west from Dun Saddle all the way to Brook Valley.

 

 

 Middy Hut to Rocks Hut (Te Araroa Trail)
Length:  4.8 km one way Time Required:  2-3 hr
Trail Type:  Tramping track Physical Difficulty:  Moderate   
Uses:  Walking only Direction:  Either
Start Elevation:  160 m (Middy Hut) Finish Elevation:  810 m (Rocks Hut)
Distances:  4.8 km one way
Time Required:  2-3 hr
Trail Type:  Tramping track
Physical Difficulty:  Moderate   
Uses:  Walking only
Start Elevation:  160 m (Middy Hut)
Finish Elevation:  810 m (Rocks Hut)

Middy Hut is located in Pelorus Valley directly southeast of Rocks Hut. It is positioned on the true right bank of the Pelorus River, along a section of the Pelorus Track that doubles as the Te Araroa Trail. A swingbridge crosses the river just upstream of the hut and Te Araroa Trail forks to the right from Pelorus Track, and climbs steadily to Rocks Hut on the top of the ridge. The track is reasonably rough in places as it climbs the valley side, with lots of tree roots and rocks requiring your concentration (particularly if you’re descending). The valley side is forested in beech, with other species like rata and kamahi also present.

For trampers beginning at Pelorus Valley, Rocks Hut is 18.9 km from the road end. It is typically used as a second night stay for the Mt Richmond section of Te Araroa Trail, with the first night at Captain Creek Hut. Given their close proximity to each other, few people stay consecutive nights at Middy Hut and Rocks Hut.

 

 Browning Hut to Rocks Hut (Te Araroa Trail)
Length:  10.7 km one way Time Required:  5-6 hr
Trail Type:  Tramping track Physical Difficulty:  Moderate   
Uses:  Walking and trail running Direction:  Either
Start Elevation:  480 m (Browning Hut) Finish Elevation:  810 m (Rocks Hut)
Distances:  10.7 km one way
Time Required:  5-6 hr
Trail Type:  Tramping track
Physical Difficulty:  Moderate   
Uses:  Walking and trail running
Start Elevation:  480 m (Browning Hut)
Finish Elevation:  810 m (Rocks Hut)

From Browning Hut, Browning Hut track climbs to Totara Saddle (680 m), at which point it forks from Pelorus Track; the latter continues eastwards into Pelorus Valley towards Roebuck Hut. The route to Rocks Hut continues as Te Araroa Trail, climbing north out of the saddle, and following a broad ridge on the northern side of Pelorus Valley. 45 min after Totara Saddle the track emerges from the beech forest and goes through large area of open scrub, after which you which you drop down into a low saddle and then climb again through beech, rounding a series of small knobs on the ridge. The track continues along an undulating profile along the ridge for the remainder of the distance to Rocks Hut.

 

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