NELSON TRAILS

 

Salisbury Lodge

Kahurangi National Park

The Tableland is a fascinating alpine plateau of rolling tussock, mountain beech and karst features, located west of Mt Arthur, in Kahurangi National Park. Beginning at Flora car park, Flora-Salisbury Track gives access to the Tableland and Salisbury Lodge, passing through beautiful beech forest and past unusual rock shelters along the way. Salisbury Lodge is a popular destination for overnight trips, as well as longer trips when combined with combined with Mt Arthur Track and Gordons Pyramid Route to create a 2-3 day circuit. It also connects to Upper Takaka, and is commonly used as part of multi-day trips to Cobb Valley and Leslie-Karamea Track.

Details
Length13.9 km one way Flora car park to Salisbury Lodge
Time Required4-5 hr one way Flora car park to Salisbury Lodge
Trail Type4WD road/Tramping track
Physical DifficultyModerate   
UsesWalking and trail running
DirectionEither
Start Elevation930 m (Flora car park)
Finish Elevation1130 m (Salisbury Lodge)
Dog AccessDogs are prohibited in Kahurangi National Park

Connections (from Salisbury Lodge)

Asbestos Cottage (Upper Takaka Track)

  Walking and trail running

Karamea Bend Hut (Leslie-Karamea Track)

  Walking

Access

  1 hr from Nelson

 

Flora car park is the starting point for the Tableland Circuit, as well as Mt Arthur, Lodestone and multi-day tramps to places further afield, such as Cobb Valley and the Leslie-Karamea Track. Flora car park is located at 930 m elevation, at the end of Graham Valley Road, southwest of Motueka. Graham Valley Road begins off Motueka River West Bank Road near Ngatimoti, and is approximately 65 km from Nelson and 21 km from Motueka. 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.

Description

Beginning at Flora car park, follow the 4WD road as it gently climbs to Flora Saddle. At Flora Saddle, continue straight, as the road descends toward Flora Hut, with Flora Stream flowing in the gully on the right. You will notice the predator traps along the side of the road; these are maintained by Friends of Flora, who have been running a trapping and monitoring programme for nearly two decades. Flora Hut is located in a large, grassy clearing. The hut is somewhat distinctive among backcountry huts as it is actually two conjoined huts with a firewood bay in the middle. There are picnic tables out the front and plenty of room to pitch tents. Flora Stream is the hut’s water source.

 

Beyond Flora Hut the track is undulating though overall descending as it continues through beech forest with Flora Stream flowing in the gully on the right. Cloustons Mine Track (which connects to Gordons Pyramid Route) forks to the left 1 hour (3.9 km) after Flora Hut. The track passes beneath an archway reading ‘Gridiron Gulch’ and Upper Gridiron Hut is immediately after. The hut, which is up a steep zig-zag track up on left side of the track, utilises a large sloping rock as half of its roof. Lower Gridiron Shelter is 100 m further on. The rock shelter is composed of an open fire, table and sleeping platform beneath a massive rounded rock jutting out of the hill. A swingbridge crosses Gridiron Creek and the 4WD road narrows to a walking track.

Upper Gridiron Hut
Hut TypeStandard Hut
Capacity3 bunks
BookingsNot required; first in, first served
Fee1 Standard Hut Ticket
FacilitiesWoodburner and mattresses
Altitude830 m

Beyond Gridiron you will pass some beautiful pools that are great for cooling off in summer (if you can stand the sandflies). You will reach Upper Junction 25 min after Lower Gridiron Shelter; here you can take the right fork onto Upper Takaka Track, which follows the beginnings of Takaka River and leads to Cobb Valley Road via Asbestos Cottage (1 hr 30 min, 5.3 km away), and to Upper Takaka Valley via Barron Flat. Take the left fork to continue toward Salisbury Lodge (the track from here is called Salisbury Track) as it turns southwest, now climbing a little and travelling high above the true right of Balloon Creek. Growler Rock Shelter is reached 15 min after Upper Junction.

 

Salisbury Track continues to climb gradually as it sidles the hillside for 45 min (2.2 km) before the trees open up to tussock as you reach the northern end of the Tableland. You will notice a sign on a tree next to the track referring to the tussockland as ‘Salisbury Open’.

 

A short deviation to the left will take you to Dry Rock Shelter (basic shelter, sleeping platform with four mattresses). 600 m after the turnoff to Dry Rock Shelter you will reach a fork in the track; if you are continuing through to Balloon Hut or Cobb Reservoir you can bypass Salisbury Lodge by taking the right fork along Starvation Ridge Track, which leaves the tussock and heads through beech forest before reconnecting with Salisbury Track 700 m beyond Salisbury Lodge. Otherwise take the left fork and continue along the poled Salisbury Track as it crosses the gently undulating Tableland to Salisbury Lodge. The track through the tussock is deeply rutted and can be very muddy.

 

Salisbury Lodge is situated on an elevated position on the western edge of the tussock. Large windows give expansive views east to Gordon’s Pyramid and Mt Arthur. The serviced hut has 22 bunks, an indoor basin and gas burners. There are even solar-powered lights in the toilets behind the hut. The hut is named after Thomas Salisbury, who in 1863 was the first European settler to graze stock on the Tableland. His brother John Salisbury also grazed sheep on the Tableland in 1875.

Salisbury Lodge
Hut TypeServiced Hut
Capacity22 bunks
BookingsNot required; first in, first served
Fee1 Serviced Hut Ticket
FacilitiesWoodburner, mattresses, space for a few tents outside
Altitude1130 m

Potholes Walk is a 2.5 km (1 hr) loop track beginning at Salisbury Lodge, that takes in Sphinx Valley Cave and karst depressions east of the hut. The ‘sphinx’ was a limestone outcrop upstream of the cave entrance, so named due to the mythical creature it was thought to resemble. Unfortunately the sphinx collapsed in the 1929 Murchison Earthquake. The track skirts around steep-sided depressions and connects with Gordon’s Pyramid Route, not far from the junction with Salisbury Track.

Safety

Be sure to record your intentions in the visitor book at Flora car park and at huts you pass along the way. The Tableland is an alpine environment. The lowest elevation the track reaches is 800 m at Upper Junction. Make sure you prepare accordingly, even in summer, as freezing alpine conditions can occur at any time of year. Deep snow may lay for weeks through the cold months and spring snow is not uncommon. Do not rely on the weather forecast for the nearest town Motueka, as the alpine weather is likely to be drastically different. Sturdy outdoor footwear is recommended. The Tableland is a karst landscape with many unknown caves and sinkholes. Do not deviate from the track, particularly on the Potholes Track.

 

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

Salisbury Lodge
Kahurangi National Park

The Tableland is a fascinating alpine plateau of rolling tussock, mountain beech and karst features, located west of Mt Arthur, in Kahurangi National Park. Beginning at Flora car park, Flora-Salisbury Track gives access to the Tableland and Salisbury Lodge, passing through beautiful beech forest and past unusual rock shelters along the way. Salisbury Lodge is a popular destination for overnight trips and is a good introductory tramp for kids, given its easy difficulty level. Flora-Salisbury Track can be combined with Mt Arthur Track and Gordons Pyramid Route to create a 2-3 day circuit. It also connects to Upper Takaka, and is commonly used as part of multi-day trips to Cobb Valley and Leslie-Karamea Track.

Details
Length13.9 km one way Flora car park to Salisbury Lodge
Time Required4-5 hr one way Flora car park to Salisbury Lodge
Trail Type4WD road/Tramping track
Physical DifficultyModerate   
UsesWalking and trail running
DirectionEither
Start Elevation930 m (Flora car park)
Finish Elevation1130 m (Salisbury Lodge)
Dog AccessDogs are prohibited in Kahurangi National Park
Access

  1 hr from Nelson

 

Flora car park is the starting point for the Tableland Circuit, as well as Mt Arthur, Lodestone and multi-day tramps to places further afield, such as Cobb Valley and the Leslie-Karamea Track. Flora car park is located at 930 m elevation, at the end of Graham Valley Road, southwest of Motueka. Graham Valley Road begins off Motueka River West Bank Road near Ngatimoti, and is approximately 65 km from Nelson and 21 km from Motueka. 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.

Description

Beginning at Flora car park, follow the 4WD road as it gently climbs to Flora Saddle. At Flora Saddle, continue straight, as the road descends toward Flora Hut, with Flora Stream flowing in the gully on the right. You will notice the predator traps along the side of the road; these are maintained by Friends of Flora, who have been running a trapping and monitoring programme for nearly two decades. Flora Hut is located in a large, grassy clearing. The hut is somewhat distinctive among backcountry huts as it is actually two conjoined huts with a firewood bay in the middle. There are picnic tables out the front and plenty of room to pitch tents. Flora Stream is the hut’s water source.

 

Beyond Flora Hut the track is undulating though overall descending as it continues through beech forest with Flora Stream flowing in the gully on the right. Cloustons Mine Track (which connects to Gordons Pyramid Route) forks to the left 1 hour (3.9 km) after Flora Hut. The track passes beneath an archway reading ‘Gridiron Gulch’ and Upper Gridiron Hut is immediately after. The hut, which is up a steep zig-zag track up on left side of the track, utilises a large sloping rock as half of its roof. Lower Gridiron Shelter is 100 m further on. The rock shelter is composed of an open fire, table and sleeping platform beneath a massive rounded rock jutting out of the hill. A swingbridge crosses Gridiron Creek and the 4WD road narrows to a walking track.

 

Upper Gridiron Hut
Hut TypeStandard Hut
Capacity3 bunks
BookingsNot required; first in, first served
Fee1 Standard Hut Ticket
FacilitiesWoodburner and mattresses
Altitude830 m

 

Beyond Gridiron you will pass some beautiful pools that are great for cooling off in summer (if you can stand the sandflies). You will reach Upper Junction 25 min after Lower Gridiron Shelter; here you can take the right fork onto Upper Takaka Track, which follows the beginnings of Takaka River and leads to Cobb Valley Road via Asbestos Cottage (1 hr 30 min, 5.3 km away), and to Upper Takaka Valley via Barron Flat. Take the left fork to continue toward Salisbury Lodge (the track from here is called Salisbury Track) as it turns southwest, now climbing a little and travelling high above the true right of Balloon Creek. Growler Rock Shelter is reached 15 min after Upper Junction.

 

Salisbury Track continues to climb gradually as it sidles the hillside for 45 min (2.2 km) before the trees open up to tussock as you reach the northern end of the Tableland. You will notice a sign on a tree next to the track referring to the tussockland as ‘Salisbury Open’.

 

A short deviation to the left will take you to Dry Rock Shelter (basic shelter, sleeping platform with four mattresses). 600 m after the turnoff to Dry Rock Shelter you will reach a fork in the track; if you are continuing through to Balloon Hut or Cobb Reservoir you can bypass Salisbury Lodge by taking the right fork along Starvation Ridge Track, which leaves the tussock and heads through beech forest before reconnecting with Salisbury Track 700 m beyond Salisbury Lodge. Otherwise take the left fork and continue along the poled Salisbury Track as it crosses the gently undulating Tableland to Salisbury Lodge. The track through the tussock is deeply rutted and can be very muddy.

 

Salisbury Lodge is situated on an elevated position on the western edge of the tussock. Large windows give expansive views east to Gordon’s Pyramid and Mt Arthur. The serviced hut has 22 bunks, an indoor basin and gas burners. There are even solar-powered lights in the toilets behind the hut. The hut is named after Thomas Salisbury, who in 1863 was the first European settler to graze stock on the Tableland. His brother John Salisbury also grazed sheep on the Tableland in 1875.

 

Salisbury Lodge
Hut TypeServiced Hut
Capacity22 bunks
BookingsNot required; first in, first served
Fee1 Serviced Hut Ticket
FacilitiesWoodburner, mattresses, space for a few tents outside
Altitude1130 m

 

Potholes Walk is a 2.5 km (1 hr) loop track beginning at Salisbury Lodge, that takes in Sphinx Valley Cave and karst depressions east of the hut. The ‘sphinx’ was a limestone outcrop upstream of the cave entrance, so named due to the mythical creature it was thought to resemble. Unfortunately the sphinx collapsed in the 1929 Murchison Earthquake. The track skirts around steep-sided depressions and connects with Gordon’s Pyramid Route, not far from the junction with Salisbury Track.

Safety

Be sure to record your intentions in the visitor book at Flora car park and at huts you pass along the way. The Tableland is an alpine environment. The lowest elevation the track reaches is 800 m at Upper Junction. Make sure you prepare accordingly, even in summer, as freezing alpine conditions can occur at any time of year. Deep snow may lay for weeks through the cold months and spring snow is not uncommon. Do not rely on the weather forecast for the nearest town Motueka, as the alpine weather is likely to be drastically different. Sturdy outdoor footwear is recommended. The Tableland is a karst landscape with many unknown caves and sinkholes. Do not deviate from the track, particularly on the Potholes Track.

 

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

Connections

Asbestos Cottage (Upper Takaka Track)

Walking and trail running

Karamea Bend Hut (Leslie-Karamea Track)

Walking

Balloon Hut

Kahurangi National Park

The track between Salisbury Lodge and Balloon Hut traverses an area of the Tableland rich in pioneering history. The distance between the two huts is not great, which allows plenty of time to explore the tussock downs and historic gold workings, and enjoy the stunning views of the Arthur Range

Details
Length4.1 km Salisbury Lodge to Balloon Hut; 8.4 km Balloon Hut to Cobb Valley Rd via Lake Peel Track; 18 km Flora car park to Balloon Hut
Time Required1 hr 30 min Salisbury Lodge to Balloon Hut; 3-4 hr Cobb Valley Rd to Balloon Hut (Lake Peel Track)
Trail TypeTramping track
Physical DifficultyModerate   
UsesWalking and trail running
DirectionEither
Start Elevation1130 m (Salisbury Lodge)
Finish Elevation1260 m (Balloon Hut)
Dog AccessDogs are prohibited in Kahurangi National Park

Connections (from Balloon Hut)

Cobb Ridge

  Walking and trail running

Karamea Bend Hut (Leslie-Karamea Track)

  Walking

Access

  1 hr from Nelson (Flora car park) | 2 hr from Nelson (Cobb Reservoir)

 

Balloon Hut can be accessed from Flora car park or Cobb Valley.

 

If you are going straight from Flora car park to Balloon Hut, you can bypass Salisbury Lodge by taking the Starvation Ridge Track (you will see the signpost indicating this).

 

To get to Cobb Valley from Nelson, head west along State Highway 60. After you’ve climbed over Takaka Hill, turn left at Upper Takaka onto Cobb Dam Road, and follow it as it winds up Cobb Valley and climbs over a ridge to reach Cobb Reservoir. The road is very narrow and has steep drop-offs to Cobb River below, so you must drive with extreme caution. Follow the road the whole way along the reservoir and park in the small grassed car park on the left (signpost reads Lake Peel Track). Note that the majority of Cobb Dam Road is unsealed. The road is quite narrow so be wary of oncoming vehicles.

Description

From Salisbury Lodge, Salisbury Track climbs gently westward through amazing stunted mountain beech. After 700 m the track reconnects with Starvation Ridge Track, and a few hundred metres later the beech trees give way to a large expanse of tussock. Halfway across this open is the junction with Leslie-Karamea Track.

 

The track drops down into the upper reaches of Cundy Creek, where you will reach a natural karst amphitheater known as ‘The Clearing’ near the head of Cundy Creek. The track climbs out of the gully and follows a corridor of tussock through beech forest just east of Balloon Hill, reaching Balloon Hut soon after.

 

Balloon Hut is nestled against the treeline at 1260 m elevation. There are no grand views from the hut itself, though the beech and tussock outlook is very nice. There are plenty of weka around and you will hear likely morepork at night. The current edition of the hut has been in place since a refurbishment in 1995. A framed picture on the wall shows the history of the hut, right back to when it was first constructed in 1909.

Balloon Hut
Hut TypeServiced Hut
Capacity14 bunks
BookingsNot required; first in, first served
Fee1 Serviced Hut Ticket
FacilitiesWoodburner, mattresses, space for a few tents outside
Altitude1260 m

Lake Peel Track continues from Balloon Hut toward Lake Peel, Myttons Hut and Cobb Valley Rd. From Balloon Hut it is 8.4 km (3-4 hr) to Cobb Valley Rd via Lake Peel and Myttons Hut.

Balloon Hut
Kahurangi National Park

The track between Salisbury Lodge and Balloon Hut traverses an area of the Tableland rich in pioneering history. The distance between the two huts is not great, which allows plenty of time to explore the tussock downs and historic gold workings, and enjoy the stunning views of the Arthur Range

Details
Length4.1 km Salisbury Lodge to Balloon Hut; 8.4 km Balloon Hut to Cobb Valley Rd via Lake Peel Track; 18 km Flora car park to Balloon Hut
Time Required1 hr 30 min Salisbury Lodge to Balloon Hut; 3-4 hr Cobb Valley Rd to Balloon Hut (Lake Peel Track)
Trail TypeTramping track
Physical DifficultyModerate   
UsesWalking and trail running
DirectionEither
Start Elevation1130 m (Salisbury Lodge)
Finish Elevation1260 m (Balloon Hut)
Dog AccessDogs are prohibited in Kahurangi National Park
Access

  1 hr from Nelson (Flora car park) | 2 hr from Nelson (Cobb Reservoir)

 

Balloon Hut can be accessed from Flora car park or Cobb Valley.

 

If you are going straight from Flora car park to Balloon Hut, you can bypass Salisbury Lodge by taking the Starvation Ridge Track (you will see the signpost indicating this).

 

To get to Cobb Valley from Nelson, head west along State Highway 60. After you’ve climbed over Takaka Hill, turn left at Upper Takaka onto Cobb Dam Road, and follow it as it winds up Cobb Valley and climbs over a ridge to reach Cobb Reservoir. The road is very narrow and has steep drop-offs to Cobb River below, so you must drive with extreme caution. Follow the road the whole way along the reservoir and park in the small grassed car park on the left (signpost reads Lake Peel Track). Note that the majority of Cobb Dam Road is unsealed. The road is quite narrow so be wary of oncoming vehicles.

Description

From Salisbury Lodge, Salisbury Track climbs gently westward through amazing stunted mountain beech. After 700 m the track reconnects with Starvation Ridge Track, and a few hundred metres later the beech trees give way to a large expanse of tussock. Halfway across this open is the junction with Leslie-Karamea Track.

 

The track drops down into the upper reaches of Cundy Creek, where you will reach a natural karst amphitheater known as ‘The Clearing’ near the head of Cundy Creek. The track climbs out of the gully and follows a corridor of tussock through beech forest just east of Balloon Hill, reaching Balloon Hut soon after.

 

Balloon Hut is nestled against the treeline at 1260 m elevation. There are no grand views from the hut itself, though the beech and tussock outlook is very nice. There are plenty of weka around and you will hear likely morepork at night. The current edition of the hut has been in place since a refurbishment in 1995. A framed picture on the wall shows the history of the hut, right back to when it was first constructed in 1909.

 

Balloon Hut
Hut TypeServiced Hut
Capacity14 bunks
BookingsNot required; first in, first served
Fee1 Serviced Hut Ticket
FacilitiesWoodburner, mattresses, space for a few tents outside
Altitude1260 m

 

Lake Peel Track continues from Balloon Hut toward Lake Peel, Myttons Hut and Cobb Valley Rd. From Balloon Hut it is 8.4 km (3-4 hr) to Cobb Valley Rd via Lake Peel and Myttons Hut.

Safety

Be sure to record your intentions in the visitor book at Flora car park and at huts you pass along the way. The Tableland is an alpine environment. Make sure you prepare accordingly, even in summer, as freezing alpine conditions can occur at any time of year. Deep snow may lay for weeks through the cold months and spring snow is not uncommon. Do not rely on the weather forecast for the nearest town Motueka, as the alpine weather is likely to be drastically different. Sturdy outdoor footwear is recommended.

Connections

Cobb Ridge

  Walking and trail running

Karamea Bend Hut (Leslie-Karamea Track)

  Walking

Updated 26 February 2019