Pelorus Track

Image: Uta Purcell | DOC


The Pelorus Track in Mt Richmond Forest Park offers walkers 3-4 days of hard tramping through forest and along the river.

Track overview

Walking and tramping

3-4 days Advanced: Tramping track

Dog access

Dogs with a DOC permit only. Contact the relevant DOC office to obtain a permit.

About this track


The Pelorus Track offers a semi-remote forest experience, passing through bush, crossing saddles, and boasting interesting features like a waterfall and old chromite mine.

All three ends of the track are ideal for day walks and picnicking.

Roadend to Captains Creek Hut

Time: 4 hr

From the car park, the track follows the Te Hoiere/Pelorus River for an hour to Emerald Pool, an ideal fishing, swimming and picnicking spot. Beyond the pool, the track leaves the river and climbs a ridge, before zigzagging back down to the the river and Captains Creek Hut.

Captains Creek Hut to Middy Hut

Time: 2 hr

This section of track climps up, sometimes steeply, and down from the Te Hoiere/Pelorus River and its tributary creeks, crossing Captain Creek first, then the Pelorus and Fishtail Stream via swingbridges. From Fishtail Stream the track cuts across a broad loop in the river on a wide terrace. It rejoins the river and follows it to Middy Creek Hut.

Middy Creek Hut to Roebuck Hut

Time: 4 hr

Just upstream of Middy Creek Hut a swingbridge crosses the Pelorus again. The track climbs steeply to the junction with Rocks Track. The Pelorus Track branches to the left. The next section is very demanding; the track is rough in places and crosses steep, densely-forested faces and several streams. Eventually the track crosses Roebuck Creek on a swingbridge.

Roebuck Hut is just across the Te Hoiere/Pelorus River. To reach it, ford the Pelorus on foot or cross it using a swingbridge 200 m upstream.

Roebuck Hut to Browning Hut

Time: 4 hr 30 min

The track leaves the Pelorus after Roebuck Hut., climbing steeply up a ridge between Roebuck and Mates creeks. The track runs high above Roebuck Creek, dropping slighly before Tōtara Saddle to negotiate two gullies before the final, short climb to the saddle. From Tōtara Saddle (690 m) descend steeply for 30 min to Browning Hut beside Browning Stream.

Browning Hut to Hacket Picnic Area

Time: 2 hr

Just below Browning Hut cross Browning Stream and walk through a lovely section of forest. Cross the stream again just before the junction of Browning and Hacket Creeks. From here it is about an hour to the Hacket roadend and picnic area, through a mixture of plantation and native forests.

Towards the end of the track you’ll pass through part of the Nelson mineral belt. Look out for the tell-tale red-brown rocks and shrubby vegetation dominated by manuka. Side tracks here lead to two interesting features:

  • the delicate Whispering Falls (30 min) - note the bridge over Hacket Stream has been destroyed due to flooding and caution is required when crossing
  • an old chromite mine and the bullock track (30 min)

Just downstream of this area a suspension bridge crosses the Hacket River from where it's a short walk to the car park.

Note: Multiple sections of the Hacket Track below the Whispering Falls junction have been washed out. The ground is unstable and caution is required at all times. 

Exit to Nelson City

An alternative exit is to walk over the Bryant Range from Middy Creek Hut to Nelson City.

Middy Creek Hut to Rocks Hut

Time: 3 hr

From Middy Creek Hut cross a swingbridge and then climb for 20 min to a junction where the Pelorus Track branches left. The Rocks Track climbs steadily from the junction for about 600 m up a ridge. Passing through an area with many hummocks and rock outcrops, the track turns northwards and meets the Bryant Range near Rocks Hut.

Rocks Hut to The Brook

Time: 5 hr 30 min

The route leads from Rocks Hut to a junction at Dun Saddle. The main track branches left, joining the Dun Mountain Trail at Coppermine Saddle. The Coppermine Saddle descends gently on the line of the old Dun Mountain Railway, which served the chromite and copper mines nearby until 1866.

From Coppermine Saddle the track rounds Windy Point just before the mineral belt ends and native forest takes over. The track continues to Third House Shelter. The forest ends suddenly where the track meets a fire break and the Dun Mountain Trail. To the left the track leads steeply down to Brook Street in Nelson City. The Dun Mountain Trail continues straight ahead along the old railway line ending up further along Brook Street, close to Nelson City.

Other tracks

Rocks Hut to Tōtara Saddle

Time: 4 hr

From Rocks Hut, this track wanders through a landscape of rock outcrops and hillocks. It then climbs over several high points before beginning its descent towards Tōtara Saddle. It emerges on to an open patch of tussock land associated with the mineral belt, which it crosses for 15 min before re-entering the forest and descending, steeply in places, to the saddle.

Maungatapu ‘track’

Time: 4 hr

This track, actually a 4WD pylon maintenance road, climbs over Maungatapu Saddle between the Pelorus and Maitai Valleys. The track is also a popular mountain bike ride. The track is closed to 4WD access on the Nelson side of the Maungatapu Saddle, so a through trip is not possible. For more information on this track, contact Nelson City Council on +64 3 546 0200.

Getting there

From the Nelson-Blenheim Road (SH6), turn onto Maungatapu Road at Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve and drive 13 km to the road end.

For the Hacket car park end, head for Aniseed Valley, 29 km south of Nelson via Richmond and Hope.

From Nelson, access the track via the Dun Mountain Walkway, a Waimea Basin walking track. This begins in Brook Valley, 4 km from the city centre.

There is no scheduled public transport to either end of this track but a shuttle bus can be arranged.

Know before you go

  • Undertake the Pelorus Track only if you are an experienced tramper and carry warm, waterproof clothing and extra food.
  • Rivers can rise quickly; do not cross when they are swollen.
  • Boil, filter, or treat water for drinking. In dry conditions, carry water on the ridges.
  • Always leave your intentions with someone responsible and fill in the hut books.

Mt Richmond Forest Park access

Check if the access roads to Mt Richmond Forest Park are open.


Waitohi / Picton Office
Phone:   +64 3 520 3002
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Address:   Port Marlborough Building
14 Auckland Street
Picton 7220
Postal Address:   PO Box 161
Picton 7250
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