5 days tramping in the Kahurangi National Park near Nelson using two splendid huts. Mountains, high open areas, fine views, gold mining history and lots of interest.

At Tapawera, on the road from Motueka we drove up the Flora Car Park, at 900' it takes you right into the park with only a few hours walk to the huts. Unfortunately the hot weather & the steep gravel road meant the car nearly overheated, had to park precariously in the shade for a while to cool down. Shelter and intentions book at the carpark. We orginially planned to go to Mt Arthur Hut to climb Mt Arthur, a notice said that there was no water at the hut because of the drought. We finished up spending a couple of nights each at Salisbury and Balloon Huts going for day walks before walking back out to the car. A very enjoyable time but then we had good weather.

DAY Salisbury Hut

Started walking from Flora car park about mid-day, easy 4wd track past 3rd category Flora Hut, looking a bit the worse for wear inside. Gradually downhill through forest following the river to the DOC maintained Gridiron shelters, unique places...1 small 4 bunk hut under rock shelter with a seat hanging by chains from the rock, with a mattress to sleep on. The other is a 6 bunk arrangement again underneath a large rock overhang, water, toilet and open fire. The 4WD track ends here. Pleasant graded path then through woods past basic 2 man Growler Shelter to emerge finally onto Salisburys Open plateau at about 1000', the hut sits in a clearing with good views to Mt Arthur. Gas cooking and heating facilities provided and a space age looking 'green' toilet block nearby (all the liquid gets evaporated away and the solids are eventually turned into compost, all with minimal maintenance(just in case you wanted to know!) Good chatty group of 7 Kiwi's there.....a good evening. Salisbury hut sleeps about 26, it's a good hut. Noisy possums on the verandah at night.

The swinging seat

Salisbury Hut & Mt Arthur

DAY Balloon Hut & Mt Peel

Cobb Reservoir

View from Mt Peel

Some early cloud, then a lovely warm sunny day. About an 1hr easy walk to the very nice 3rd Category Balloon Hut at about 1200' , sleeps 12, again with gas cooking and heating facilities. Dumped the bags here and walked on a good graded path onto the ridge then left the track going to Cobb Valley and carried on the ridge to Mt Peel, no real path now, could be a problem in mist. Superb views in all directions... down to Cobb Reservoir, west to the Tasman wilderness and across the Mt Arthur and the Twin Sisters mountains. Ambled back down to the hut for an afternoon coffee. A Kiwi and a Czech in residence with us for the night. The Czech guy must have been tired, he went to bed at 19:30hrs and he didn't surface until after 08:00hrs the next morning and he hardly spoke a word of english. Possums again active on the verandah and Jo thought she heard a mouse surrying around the woodwork in the night.

DAY 3...some gold mining investigation and another night at Balloon Hut

Stream walking

Inside Balloon Hut

A lovely sunny day, we decided to stop another night and investigate the old gold mining areas. The main spot is Cundy Creek, off the track to Salisbury Hut. You start at Bishops Rock (where a preacher did the old preaching bit to the miners), there is a short tunnel through it and then you come to limestone formations, small clearings, grave mark of old miner... all interesting enough ...but no gold found. We decided, rather than returning the same way, to continue to follow the stream down, the map showed that we could follow a tributary back towards the hut. Tussock grass areas made some of it difficult to begin with, then the best option was just to follow the stream bed. A few deepish pools and some struggling over branch windfalls further up but it was all good fun. Back back by mid afternoon, different guests this evening including a chap we previously seen over 2 months ago at the John Tait hut in the Nelson Lakes region.

DAY Salisbury Hut and Gordons Pyramid

Another lovely day, a lazy start to the day, nobody was in a rush to leave, chatting and reading over cups of tea. Back to Salisbury Hut, dumped the bags and wandered up to Gordons Pyramid at about 1400' Great views back over the Tablelands. Took a diversion on the return via the limestone sink holes and Spinx Rock (unfortunately got its head shook off in the 1929 earthquake). A scramble past this takes you to a cave, you can go in a short way. Japanese girl at the hut on our return, on her way to Balloon Hut, we had the hut to ourselves for the night. Water running short in the tank, without any rain it would be empty in a few days.

On the way to Gordons Pyramid


DAY 5...out to Flora car park

Yet another lovely sunny day. A leisurely 4hr walk back to the carpark and after some problems starting the car (loose battery connection, no doubt from all the shaking , rattling and rolling on the way up) we were on our way. Next time we return here Mt Arthur itself will be on our agenda.

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