Introduction

Follow in the footsteps of old goldminers on the Wakamarina Track to cross the Richmond Range from the Wairau Valley to the Wakamarina Valley.

Highlights


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Track overview

Walking and tramping

7 hrs (south to north) Advanced: Tramping track

Mountain biking

Advanced: Grade 4

Dog access

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

About this track

Description

The track is classified as a tramping track. It is steep and rough in places, particularly between Devil's Creek Hut and Foster's Clearing; boots are recommended.

Kiwi Road to Foster’s Clearing

Time: 2 hr

From the car park on Kiwi Road a well-graded track follows the eastern side of Bartletts Ridge before crossing the head of Bartletts Creek and climbing to the Foster Creek– Bartletts Creek saddle, known as Foster’s Clearing. A short side track leads east up the ridge to Foster’s Hut.

Fosters Clearing to Devil’s Creek Hut

Time: 3 hr

Below Foster’s Clearing the track descends into the head of Foster Creek, skirting around its headwaters and crossing a series of slaty schist creeks. It then climbs to a saddle between Foster and Devil’s Creeks.

From this saddle the track climbs along the Devil’s Creek–Foster Creek ridge and then descends to the benched track of the main Wakamarina Valley. The hut is just five minutes away, in a large clearing on a terrace above the Wakamarina River.

Devil’s Creek Hut to Butchers Flat

Time: 2 hr

From Devil’s Creek Hut a benched track sidles above the river, eventually leaving the beech forest and crossing a burnt-over face to Doom Creek.

A bridge crosses Doom Creek before a short climb up to the benched track that leads to the road end at Butchers Flat.

Mountain biking

The track is popular with experienced, beginner and family trampers, and mountain bikers.

The track is classified as an Advanced/Grade 4 biking track. Mountain bikers could complete the trip in one day, and it is best ridden from south to north.

This is a shared-use track. Follow the mountain bikers code: respect others, respect the rules, respect the track.

Getting there

Blenheim side

Turn off State Highway 6 on to Northbank Road, 6 km north of Renwick (16 km from Blenheim). Follow Northbank Road for 5 km, then Onamalutu Road for 11 km, past Onamalutu Domain, to Flowers Creek ford. A final 5 km up Kiwi Road leads to the car park at the start of the track. Note: See road closures in alerts.

Road access is also possible from Bartletts Valley. This route to the track is longer and recommended for 4WD vehicles only.

Havelock side

Access to the track is via Wakamarina Road from Canvastown, 9 km west of Havelock on SH6 between Nelson and Blenheim. The road leads 11 km (final 5km unsealed) up the Wakamarina Valley to Butchers Flat car park. A road suitable for 4WD vehicles only continues a further 1.5 km to a small turning area with parking for 2 vehicles, just before Doom Creek.

Nature and conservation

Bird and wildlife watching

Birdlife is varied and abundant and includes large numbers of tomtits and weka. Pigeons and tuis are more common at lower altitudes, while rifleman and brown creepers tend to be more obvious higher up.

Flora and fauna

Tall red and silver beech trees, rimu and kamahi form the forest canopy, with a pepperwood shrub layer and an understorey of dense crown fern. The range of altitudes, particularly on the Wakamarina side, affects temperature, the forest structure and tree size markedly.

You may also see carnivorous native land snail Powelliphanta. These ancient animals feed on worms at night are are themselves eaten by weka and introduced possums and pigs. Powelliphanta are completely protected; it is illegal to remove them or their empty shells which provide a source of all-important calcium for these unique giants.

History and culture

Gold was first discovered in the Wakamarina River in 1860. However, it was not under 1864 that it was prospected and found to be one of the richest goldfields in New Zealand.

A number of tent towns sprang up in the valley and by July 1864 there were about 2800 miners working between Doom Creek and Canvastown. By the beginning of 1865 the boom was over and most of the miners had left for other fields.

During the 1930s about 150 miners worked the goldfield, but their number declined sharply after the Depression. More recent attempts (including using diving suits in 1960) have been quite successful in working deeper stretches of the river which were out of the reach of early miners. Today there has been renewed interest in mining and virtually the whole of the Wakamarina River is staked for claims.

Know before you go

  • Dogs are allowed in this area with a permit. A maximum of four dogs per party is allowed. Contact the South Marlborough or Sounds offices for permits.
  • The track is rough in places and care must be taken.
  • The weather is changeable, especially at high altitudes, so take warm, waterproof clothing and plenty of food. Remember your safety is your responsibility.
  • Historic sites remind us of our past. Do not disturb them.

Contacts

Whakatū / Nelson Visitor Centre
Phone:   +64 3 546 9339
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Email:   nelsonvc@doc.govt.nz
Address:   Millers Acre/Taha o te Awa
79 Trafalgar Street
Nelson 7010
Postal Address:   Private Bag 5
Nelson 7042
Wairau / Renwick Office
Phone:   +64 3 572 9100
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Email:   renwick@doc.govt.nz
Address:   Gee Street
Renwick
Marlborough 7204
Postal Address:   PO Box 51
Renwick
Marlborough 7243
Waitohi / Picton Office
Phone:   +64 3 520 3002
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Email:   picton@doc.govt.nz
Address:   Port Marlborough Building
14 Auckland Street
Picton 7220
Postal Address:   PO Box 161
Picton 7250
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