Mt Richmond Forest Park circuit blog | April 2018

I wanted to continue exploring South Marlborough. A corner where the Wairau goes through a right angle was the next big section.

Bull Creek Paddock Hut, then over into the branch for a week, coming out down Lees Creek.

That had been my plan for weeks.

The track to Bull Creek Paddock had been cut in January 2017.

That’s all good.

Then I found out that DOC had closed the Bull Creek Paddock Hut due to “structural damage”. That could mean anything.

And I was intending to go during the peak weeks of The Roar, so deer hunters would probably be in the vicinity.

And then I had to get up there somehow.

Dunno.

Someone emailed through a strangely specific request about Stewart Island/Rakiura and I ended up writing an answer to a question on my favourite website, Quora.com. I went all lyrical about my love for the remote parts of the island, and while doing so thought I should return. For that I really needed three weeks, on reflection, more time than I should really spare, so I started thinking of elsewhere.

Maybe go and check out the three huts Nelson Lakes National Park I had not documented.

Then, once again I would need to arrange transport. And it would be Easter, so perhaps excessive companionship in the huts.

The easiest thing would be just to walk out my back door, and head up Mt Richmond once again. That way little organisation was required and I could have complete flexibility about when I left.

The weather was the best for weeks, a High sitting out in the Tasman Sea.

In the end I left a day early, and packed a couple of weeks’ food. I’m usually a super planner, though often change those careful plans to suit the actual conditions.

Well, I had a start point, plus all the LINZ maps to St Arnaud, and onto the Lewis Pass just in case. The weather forecast looks good, 2 mm of rain in the next 10 days according to yr.no, my go to website for weather predictions.

Just need to find a way to avoid the Easter crowds.

There’s a twist halfway in this tale.

This is what happened . . .

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Day 1 | Rocks Hut

Looking over The Rocks to Point 1496, left, Mt Fell, Johnson Peak, and Mt Richmond, right.  | Mt Richmond Forest Park  Circuit, April 2018

This is very familiar territory, I must have walked up here 50 times over the years, the first time when I was 14, back when the original Rocks Hut had a dirt floor.

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Day 2 | Roebuck Hut

Two swingbridges over the Pelorus River branches at Roebuck Hut. | Mt Richmond Forest Park  Circuit, April 2018

For once I’m in no particular hurry. I prefer arriving at a hut around 5 pm and modulate my day accordingly.

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Day 3 | Old Mt Fell Hut site, camping

Full Moon rising over Mt Fishtail from Mt Fell. | Mt Richmond Forest Park  Circuit, April 2018

I thought it would be worth sitting around on the top of Mt Fell to watch the sunset, but it turned out the Full Moon rising over Mt Fishtail was more spectacular. A huge orange orb popping over the hills and shining with considerable luminosity.

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Day 4 | Richmond Saddle Hut

The Mt Fell ridge from Mt Richmond, with The Sounds beyond.To swingbridges over the Pelorus River branches at Roebuck Hut. | Mt Richmond Forest Park  Circuit, April 2018

Make the most of where you are in life, I say. Don’t race on to your next destination without noticing you are having one of the best days of your life.

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Day 5 | Two hours from Lake Chalice Hut

Forest coming down from Richmond Saddle Hut.  | Mt Richmond Forest Park circuit, April 2018

People have their problems and aren’t so keen on getting out of their bubble.

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Day 6 | Lake Chalice Hut

The Wairau valley from the Enchanted Lookout.  | Mt Richmond Forest Park circuit, April 2018

I was starting to get completely sick it all, not surprisingly when I checked the time and found I had been climbing up the road for around 20 hours.

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Day 7 | Mid Goulter Hut

Forest between Lake Chalice and Mid Goulter Hut.  | Mt Richmond Forest Park circuit, April 2018

It’s a beautiful stretch of forest as I sidled my way down the fairly steep sided Goulter River valley.

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Day 8 | Mid Goulter Hut again

Mid Goulter Hut with Mt Patriarch behind on the right.  | Mt Richmond Forest Park circuit, April 2018

Better mention that early on a stag was making a lot of noise, not too distant from the hut. Not quite roaring, more of bellow, and after lunch just a groan.

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Day 9 | Lower Goulter Hut

The Goulter River at a low flow time.  | Mt Richmond Forest Park circuit, April 2018

This is where the twist in my travels happened.

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Day 10 | Tarn Hut

The track up to the top of Bushy Top is not well used, ie, great.  | Mt Richmond Forest Park circuit, April 2018

Then the climbing started, 250 m heart starter up a zigzag where you end up with a birds-eye view of Lower Goulter Hut, as long as the bird is an eagle or similar high flyer.

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Day 11 | Mt Rintoul Hut

Mt Rintoul, 1731 m, from Purple Top. The Rintoul Hut is a speck. | Mt Richmond Forest Park circuit, April 2018

That sounded like a plan.

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Day 12 | Old Man Hut

Up the top of Mt Rintoul, 1731 m, and trying not to look over at the next gnarly section. | Mt Richmond Forest Park circuit, April 2018

Time for a very early lunch and to tell everyone interested, and some not, about my whereabouts.

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Day 13 | Old Man Hut, again

The fire's going in Old Man Hut, with the snow coming down.  | Mt Richmond Forest Park circuit, April 2018

The environment looks the definition of gorgeousness.

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Day 14 | Starveall Hut

Looking back along towards Little Rintoul, with Rintoul behind.  | Mt Richmond Forest Park circuit, April 2018

This morning the narrow path was iced up. Slippery indeed.

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Day 15 | Rocks Hut. Back again

Red beech forest on the way down from Starveall Hut to Hacket Stream.  | Mt Richmond Forest Park circuit, April 2018

A hunter was waiting for his more enthusiastic mate, off to get a deer in the nearby forest with his crossbow. That’s not news that trampers generally want to hear.

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Day 16 | Home to Nelson

Last look back to Mt Richmond, etc, on the way to Dun Saddle.  | Mt Richmond Forest Park circuit, April 2018

Probably time for a decent shower, and some fresh food.