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New Zealand hikesNew Zealand Cobb Valley-Tablelands Track

New Zealanders and overseas visitors have turned to unspoiled hills, forests and coasts of our magnificent New Zealand landscape in search of physical recreation and spiritual solace. Mount Arthur - Tablelands Track is is one of the Nelsons Regions premier semi-wilderness experiences situated in the middle of Kahurangi National Park.

Tablelands track is a 1 - 2 day link through Cobb Valley, between Flora Car park and the Tablelands Track. Cobb Valley via Lake Peel is a 4 day link through Cobb Valley Tablelands Valley, between Flora Carpark and Tablelands Track; 4 days are needed to get from road end to road end.

Westwards from Nelson City in Kahurangi National Parklies the Arthur Range and its culminating peak, Mount Arthur. Further to the west is a great uplifted plateau, the Mount Arthur, Tablelands, and Cobb Valley.

Cobb Valley - Tablelands region is one of the most interesting in the country for trampers, hikers and naturalists with its impressive mountain and bush scenery, remarkable botany and geology and interesting human story.

Cobb Valley - Tablelands Track is classified as a walking track, tramping track. It is well marked and is usually benched. Many streams along the Cobb Valley - Tablelands Track are usually bridged and can be very flood prone. Strong footwear, backcountry experience and a good level of fitness are required for any trip into the Cobb Valley - Tablelands Track area.

Cobb Valley - Tablelands Track, in the heart of Kahurangi National Park, offers a remote experience. Linking Flora car park and the Cobb Valley - Tablelands Track. Cobb Valley - Tablelands Track passes through Cobb Valley, following rivers through lush bush, and traversing saddles. Discover Cobb Valley -Tablelands Track, a top destination for tramping and hiking track adventures - the Cobb Valley -Tablelands Track, Nelson, New Zealand.

General Information

Cobb Valley - Tablelands Track and its facilities are administered by the Department of Conservation. Cobb Valley - Tablelands Track is most commonly walked: from Flora Car park or Cobb Valley Road. Around Flora Car Park and Cobb Valley Road there are several options, but river levels may cause delays or dictate which option you take. Please read the track description and safety information thoroughly before your trip. Other options for starting the track and the exit are described below.

All fauna and flora are protected:native plants must not be removed and domestic animals, such as dogs, are prohibited. All mammals ( except bats) are introduced, noxious and fair game (except on private property); but hunting of these (e.g. goats) is not allowed except by permit.

It is the responsibility of every traveler to seen that the environment remains undamaged and unpolluted and is preserved as nearly as possible in its natural state. Information about the park may be obtained from the official park handbook and park pamphlets obtainable at park headquarters and stations, the Department of Conservation in Nelson, at Government bookshops and many other booksellers.

Back Country Hut tickets or an annual hut pass are required to stay in the huts. All are basic huts requiring one ticket per night, except Salisbury Lodge and Fenella huts which are standard ( 2 tickets). There is no charge for Flora Valley shelters. Even so, for safety's sake, you must ensure that you register your group's names and intentions in national park hut books along the track.

Time 4 - 6 days
Distance 28 km Return
Grade Easy to Medium
Highest Point
Huts 11 DOC Huts , 2 Rock Bivies
  • Easy Graded Track
  • Earthquake Carved Valleys
  • Plenty of Campsites
  • Seven Huts
  • Excellent Trout Fishing
  • Excellent transport to and from both track ends

Westwards from Nelson City, in North -West Nelson lies the Arthur Range and its culminating peak Mt Arthur, named in 1842, after Captain Arthur Wakefield. Further to the west beyond the Arthur Range lies a great uplifted plateau or near-plateau, gently sloping, dissected by ancient streams, partly bush-covered and partly covered by alpine grasses. Tableland once lay under the sea, and it still wears a mantle of limestone in certain places. Kakapo and moa bones may still be found in various limestone caves and fissures here.

Mount Arthur - Tablelands track lies in the heart of the Kahurangi National Park and traverses Tablelands and Cobb Valley Tracks. The gently rolling Tablelands are a remnant of a once-extensive sea-level plain which over 45 million years ago stretched across New Zealand. As the land sank below sea-level, thick quartz gravels, and then limestones were deposited on the ancient plain. In the last 14 million years the plain has been uplifted, mostly buckled and folded into mountains, its limestones and quartz gravels eroded off, but here and there remnants have survived as the Tablelands.

In 1863, Thomas Salisbury found the Tablelands. Gold was discovered there in 1865. Diggers braved harsh conditions in their search but within a few years interest had waned. In 1866, 1909 and the 1930s gold fever spread again, but always with little sucess as the area was never rich. The diggers required services; in the clearing where Flora Hut now stands, Edwards Store was set up in tents. Stock were driven up to the Tablelands and slaughtered at Butchertown just west of Salisbury Lodge.

West of Butchertown, beyond the Leslie Valley Turn off, the Balloon Hut track descends through Cundy Creek and passes Bishop's Cave. Two Nelson Bishops, at different times late last century, camped here and preached to the diggers.

In 1875, John Park Salisbury ( Thomas's Brother) drove a mob of 100 sheep from the Graham Valley and turned them out on the Tablelands Tussock. Later, cattle and another 400 sheep were driven out and grazed from Mt Arthur to Cobb. There was no track from the Takaka Valley and stock were driven by way of Flora Track across the Tablelands and into the Cobb Valley.

Cobb Valley is marvellously different again from the Tablelands. Rivers have cut down into the rising landscapes from near Aorere Peak; northwards the Burgoo,eastwards the Waingaro, westwards the Roaring Lion and southwards the Cobb. With the onset of the ice ages, these valleys filled with glaciers, largest of which is the Cobb, carving a classic U Shaped , straight valley, polishing and smoothing its bedrock, dumping ridges of moraine.

Access - How To Get There

At Upper Takaka ( at the base of Takaka Hill on the Golden Bay side), a narrow 28 km road leads to Cobb Reservoir - care is required.

There is lookout and information kiosk on Cobb Ridge, above the reservoir, and a telephone near the dam. The road follows the lakeside to Trilobite hut (14 bunks). Nearby is a camping and picnic area. On demand taxi services are available to or from the Cobb.

Several routes to access Tablelands from Nelson to that part of Motueka Valley where the Graham Stream and road head to the mountains. These routes meet the Motueka River at Woodstock and Ngatimoti. Also Highway 61 provides first class access from Motueka or Tapawera. From Nelson it is approximiately 65 km or an hour's drive to the mouth of the Graham. Last 3 - 4 kms of road up the Graham Valley rise 820m, steeply in places, to a car park and lookout, just east of the saddle.

Flora Carpark - Roads from Nelson and Motueka meet the Motueka River at Ngatimoti where a bridgge crosses to West Bank Road. The unsealed Graham Valley Road climbs steeply to Flora Carpark where there is a coin phone, toilet and information kiosk.

Private Transport: This is the most flexible and convenient method of reaching the track. If possible your party should make mutual arrangements with another party walking from the opposite end, so that you can swap cars for the return road journey. Car parks are available at Flora Car Park and Cobb Valley Track .

Track Transport

Cobb Valley - Tablelands Track is well served by track transport. You can take a bus, taxi or fly. There is considerable competition on this route, so a variety of options are available to suit your particular needs. There is considerable competition on this route, so a variety of options are available tos suit your particular needs. Most people begin the track at Flora car park, 75 km from Nelson and 36 km from Motueka.

Huts and Camping

Huts along the way are provided with bunks, open fireplaces, cooking utensils, shovels, axes and toilets. Sleeping bags are essential and should be the all-weather kind. Huts - Keep huts tidy and replenish the firewood supplies before you leave. Remember they are public huts and other parties may be using them as well. There is a 2-night limit on stopovers. Gas - You will need to bring a small primus or gas stove for all huts. Food -You should carry sufficient provisions for 10 days to allow for any unforesceen delays. Water - There is no shortage of water. Campfires - use the provided campfire sites or hut fireplaces and always watch your fire carefully. Make certain it is properly out when you leave it. Use only dead wood from fallen trees for firewood.

Weather and Season

Cobb Valley - Tablelands Track lies within a earthquake triggered slip prone environment. It is possible to experience sunshine, torrential rain, swollen rivers, high winds and snow all in one day, even in summer. Be prepared for sudden weather changes, usually for the worse, and take a waterproof raincoat, woolen hat and gloves, and a complete change of clothes.

River crossings - The force of a stream or river current should never be underestimated. When swollen by heavy rain, don't attempt a crossing. Wait until the flow subsides; take great care and use the proper method.

Clothing and Equipment

Compared with other tracks in New Zealand , Cobb Valley - Tablelands track is constructed to a very high standard. It is a tramping track or at times a route which is marked and is often benched. Boots are advisable and a moderate fitness level is required.

Most major streams are bridged. The walking gradient is easy - moderate in certain sections of Cobb Valley - Tablelands track. Strong footwear is recommended, and walkers should carry clothing for all weather conditions.

Walkers must take adequately warm clothing. In fine weather, shorts and a light shirt may be worn but long trousers, a warm shirt and woolen sweater essential for cold conditions. A waterproof parka is also essential. Boots must be worn and these must be properly broken in. A comfortable pack and warm sleeping bag are essential: there is no bedding in the huts.

All food and personal utensils must be carried. You must take your own liquid fuel (preferably gas) stove; there are no cooking facilities, though all huts have solid fuel stoves for heating and drying. Use the fuel provided at huts and campsites. If this is scarce, collect dead wood only. Do not chop live trees. All native trees are protected and, anyway, green wood does not burn.

Food -You should carry sufficient provisions for 5 days to allow for any unforeseen delays.

You should take a small first aid kit, small compass, including insect repellant and a suitable antihistamine if you are allergic to wasp and bee stings. Wasps and bees are present in large numbers during the summer. Carry a torch and of course, appropriate track guide.

Fitness and Preparation

It is important to ensure that you are physically fit. If you are not preoccupied with blistered feet or sore muscles then not only will you cover the ground more quickly and safely, but you will have more time and opportunity to appreciate the scenery and natural features that you have made so much effort to reach! So - break in those boots, make sure your clothing and gear are comfortable and adequate, plan your food requirements, and undertake several training tramps or hikes of increasing length and difficulty. There's only one way to get fit for tramping - and that's tramping.

Before you leave home, inform relatives or friends of your intentations and dates of travel and put your names and plans in the log books along the way. This will make your location easier should you suffer any mishap.

Approach to Walking

Don't rush and don't loiter. Keep up a good, steady pace and don't indulge in too many rest stops - it's surprising how the time gets away from you. And rests should not be too long, otherwise you may stiffen up and lose your rhythm. Don't hang around if its wet and cold - keep body heat up. Start out early each day, so that you're always time in hand.

On the track, keep your party together at all times; this reduces the chance of a member getting lost or having an accident. Remember the golden rule - the pace of the party is that of its slowest member.

Communication - Carry a Mountain Radio or an EPERB Locator beacon when you travel this track. Should an injury occur there is very little track traffic and it may take awhile for someone to assist you for a major injury.

Food -You should carry sufficient provisions for 5 days to allow for any unforeseen delays.

Gas - You will need to bring a small primus or gas stove for all huts.

River crossings - The force of a stream or river current should never be underestimated. When swollen by heavy rain, don't attempt a crossing. Wait until the flow subsides; take great care and use the proper method.

Bad Weather - should there be heavy rain or swollen rivers, expect to held up for at least 3 -4 days before the rivers are safe to cross again

More>> Cobb Valley - Tablelands Track Photos & DOC Track Info
Distances Tracks / Times

But observation of one's surroundings is reduced in direct proportion to the speed of travel and, one might add, the weight of one's load. Most Cobb Valley- Tablelands Track Walkers will want to take their time - for comfort's sake and to take in to the full attraction of the natural environment.

Flora Car Park to Flora Hut
2 km
30 min
Flora Car Park - Upper Junction Salisbury Lodge
14 km
4 hrs
Salisbury Lodge - Gordon Pyramid Mt Arthur Hut - Flora Car Park
14 km
5 - 6 hrs
Tablelands Signpost to Splugeons Shelter
4 km
1 -2 hrs
Salisbury Lodge to Balloon Hut
1.5 hrs
Balloon Hut via Lake Peel to Myttons Hut
9 km
5 hrs
Balloon Hut via Lake Peel to Trilobite Hut
9 km
5.5 hrs
Trilobite Hut to Chaffey Hut
5 km
1.5 hrs
Chaffey Hut to Fenella Hut
7 km
3 hrs

Further Information

DOC Nelson Regional Visitor Centre
Millers Acre Centre, Taha o te awa
79 Trafalgar Street
P O Box 375
Phone +64 3 546 9339



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