The walkway is classified as a tramping track. A reasonable level of fitness and strong footwear is recommended. The streams at both road ends and those flowing into Cullen Creek are unbridged and become impassable after heavy rain.
Waikakaho Valley to 'Village Clearing'
Time: 2 hr
From the farm house, the road continues between other farm buildings and yards, and through several gates for two kilometres to a parking area beside the Waikakaho River.
Just before this crossing you will see, on each side of the stream, sheds surrounded by buckets and machinery. Each shed covers the entrance to a deep (20m) shaft. The shafts were dug during the 1930s. A tunnel links them deep under the river, with a number of short exploratory drives extending back up into the bedrock base of the river. These sheds are on private land and access to them is not available without the owners' permission.
The Ravenscliffe Battery began operation in 1892, but despite good returns from samples tested overseas, only 112 oz of gold was extracted. It was sited against the base of the hill across the river from the farmhouse. However, apart from a series of terraces cut into the hillside, little evidence of it remains.
Cross Golden Belt Stream and climb gradually on the eastern face of this spur through scrub and pasture before crossing to the western face and climbing all the way to village clearing, zigzagging occasionally.
The Village Clearing
This terraced clearing was the centre of activity during the quartz extracting period. In its heyday there were about 200 men employed in the mining or processing of quartz. Now, only the remains of stone chimneys, foundatins and rock-lined pools are left.
About five minutes above the clearing, a side track leads to the entrance of a drive which extends over 100 metres into the rock. It is not maintained and should not be entered.
Village Clearing to Waikakaho Saddle
Time: 30 min
The main track leaves the village and zigzags before climbing steadily to the saddle. Sections of rock benching, cuttings through rocky spurs, and stone culverts remain from the mining era.
Waikakaho Saddle to Cullen Creek
Time: 1 hr
Beyond the saddle the track is a little rougher. It sidles to the left and descends gradually for about 30 minutes to a small grassy clearing. At the clearing is a stone chimney and the collapsed remains of a hut left over from the 1890 quartz era, and the depression of the 1930s.
From the clearing the track follows a spur down through forest to a bracken-covered face planted in pine trees. The track, marked with poles, now zigzags down this face to a private hut on a terrace high above Cullen Creek. This section is quite steep; extra time should be allowed for climbing in the reverse direction.
Near the hut a number of stone chimneys and foundations mark the location of a once-sizeable village.
Private hut to the road end
Time: 1 hr 30 min
From the hut terrace the old track is rejoined. It descends steeply to cross Prospector Creek. On the other bank it begins a spectacular sidle above the Creek, hewn in places out of near-vertical rock walls by the miners. It eventually descends and crosses Cullen Creek to the road end and the site of the former mining town, Cullensville.
Access to the start of the track at the northern end is at Cullen Creek Valley from Linkwater. The track entrance is through private land. Please keep to the marked track and respect farm stock and the private property leaving all gates as you found them.
In the south the track begins at the end of Waikakaho Road. This road leaves the Kaituna-Tuamarina Road along the northern side of the lower Wairau River, midway between State Highway 1 at Tuamarina and State Highway 6 at Kaituna. Please keep to the road and the track which provide legal access to the Mt Richmond Forest Park boundary.
The Waikakaho Track is open for mountain biking and best ridden from south to north. Mountain bikers must stay in control of their bikes and give way to walkers.
Know before you go
- The track passes through very steep terrain in the lower Cullen Creek area - please keep a close watch on any children with you.
- The weather is changeable so take warm, waterproof clothing and plenty of food.
- The major watercourses are not bridged, care is required when water levels are high.
- Do not enter any mine shafts or the sheds beside the road at the Waikakaho end of the track.
- Remember your safety is your responsibility.
Dogs are allowed in the Mt Richmond Forest Park under permit. A maximum of four dogs per party is allowed - permits are available from DOC offices in Marlborough.
Dogs may be taken on to the northern (Cullen Creek) end of the track with permission from the landowner, Jimmy Stuart, phone +64 3 574 2331.
No dogs are allowed to be taken onto the private land at the southern (Waikakaho Valley) end of the track.