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New Zealand hikesNew Zealand Mount Arthur - Tablelands Route Guide

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. Mount Arthur Tablelands track is a 1 - 2 day link through Cobb Valley, between Flora Car park and the Tablelands Track; 1- 2 days are needed to get from road end to road end. Mount Arthur - Tablelands Track is classified as a walking track, tramping track. It is well marked and is usually benched.

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 the Cobb Valley. Mount Arthur - 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.

Time 1 - 2 days
Distance 28 km Return
Grade Easy to Medium
Highest Point
Huts 2 DOC Huts , 2 Rock Bivies
Flora Car Park Shelter
Flora Car Park Shelter
Flora Saddle Car Park
Flora Car Park
Flora Saddle Start Track
Flora Saddle Start
Mt Arthur - Tablelands Track Route Guide
Flora Car Park to Flora Hut
2 km
30 min
Flora Car Park to Mt Arthur Hut
3 km
1 hr 15 min
Flora Car Park to Mt Arthur
8 km
4 hrs
Flora Car Park to Mt Lodestone
5 km
2 hr
The Twins
13 km
5 hours
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
Clouston's Mine Short cut ( Horseshoe Creek to Salisbury Lodge
8 km
3 hrs
Tablelands Signpost to Splugeons Shelter
4 km
1 -2 hrs
The Pot Holes from Salisbury Lodge
3 km
1.5 hrs
The Caves from Salisbury Lodge
3 km
1.5 hrs
Balloon Hut from Salisbury Lodge
1.5 hrs

Mount Arthur Tablelands route guide will describe the entire track, in the following 5 sections, beginning at Flora Car Park , Mount Arthur and ending at Tablelands in the south:

Day Trips from Flora Car Park

Longer Trips from Flora Car Park

Tablelands Circuit

Side Trips from Salisbury Lodge

Beyond the Tableland

Travelling times given remain the same whether you walk north-south or the reverse. Total average travelling time for the Mt Arthur - Tablelands Track is 5 hours in fine weather not adverse weather conditions.

Flora Hut
Flora Hut
Mount Arthur
Mount Arthur
South Island Black Robin
Mount Arthur Hut ( 3 km 1 hour)

Main track from Flora Car Park heads westwards, beyond the park gate and the visitor register shelter to Flora Saddle (1 km). Rising southwards from the saddle a well used track follows the main dividing range to the Mount Arthur tops. Mount Arthur Hut is just below the tree line, 3 km or 1 hour up from saddle. An alternative track down ( indicated by the sign " Flora Hut Direct") takes an adjacent spur to the west and leads down through the bush to Flora Hut, 3 km / 1 hour below. Good burning wood is scarce at Mount Arthur Hut. It is advisable to carry your own wood or cooking equipment e.g primus.

Huts: Mount Arthur, 8 bunks

Mount Arthur
Mount Arthur
Mount Arthur
Mount Arthur
Mount Lodestone
Mount Lodestone


Mount Arthur ( 8 km , 3 hours)
From Mount Arthur HUt to Mount Arthur trig (1778m) is a further 5 km / 2 hours. The route follows the leading ridge along the open tops and is marked by iron standards. Permanent water in soak holes may be found half way ( signposted). Mount Arthur is commonly climbed in a day trip from Nelson and offers splendid views of the region.
Flora Saddle
Flora Saddle
Mount Arthur Track
Mount Arthur track
Mount Arthur Tablelands Map
Mount Arthur Tablelands
Mount Lodestone ( 5 km , 2 hours)
Track from Flora Car Park/ Flora Hut leads directly up the ridge to the north of the car park. It is rather steep for the first 100m or so but then swings across to the main Lodestone Ridge on an easy gradient. The final climb to the summit (1448m) is also a bit steep. From the top of Lodestone a direct track to Flora Hut enters the bush at the base of the grassy slope on the Flora Side. Descent to Flora Hut by this route takes 1.25 hours and makes an interesting round trip.
Flora Hut ( 2 km , 30 min)

Flora Hut was built in 1928, and occupies what was once known as "Edwards Clearing". This clearing was chopped from the bush as a convenient spot, halfway to Tableland gold diggings, for Storekeeper Edwards to set up his tents.

Today, the Flora Clearing is a favourit ewith children who toboggan down its grassy slopes in summer or snow banks in winter. From Flora Hut back up to the Flora Saddle and the car park it is about 30 min walk and this is perhaps the least strenuous short walk in the area. From Flora Car Park to Flora Hut ( Round Trip) is about 4 km.

Huts: Flora Hut is double-ended, 12 bunks, open fire in each end , central woodshed

Flora Hut
Flora Hut
Flora Hut - Grid Iron Track
Grid Iron Track
Gordon Pyramid
Gordons Pyramid
The Twins (13 km - 5 hours)

From the pass below Mount Arthur a cairned route leads around the side of the mountain to the grassy slope beyond. The route down the range is self evident and the North Twin can be reached in about 2 hours from the pass.

Ascent of the north or Big Twin is a bit difficult for the average tramper - more in the realm of the climber. At 1825m the Big Twin is the second highest peak in the Tasman Mountains.

Access to the South Twin is usually gained by descending to just above bush level on the Ellis side, then working around and up through the broken country to the main ridge beyond the South Twin which can be readily climbed by its southern slope. For ordinary mortals a direct traverse between the Twins is not possible.

Grid Iron Bivy
Grid Iron Rock Bivy
Little Tonga Bay
Upper Grid Iron
Growler Shelter
Growler Shelter
Flora Car Park - Flora Hut - Tablelands Direct (Salisbury Lodge)
Approx.14 km. Walking time: 3 - 5 hours

Flora Car Park - Tablelands track is the main arterial route to the west in these parts and is a 1.2 m benched and graded track throughout. It was constructed in the 1870s to serve the gold diggings on the Mount Arthur Tablelands and beyond, namely the valleys of the Leslie, Crow and Roaring Lion.

3 km down the track from Flora Hut is Bishop's Pool. Bishop Suter is said to have bathered here whilst on a visit to the Tableland diggings in the 1880s. At 3.75m you cross Horseshoe Creek, and 1.5 km further on are Grid Iron Creek and Grid Iron Shelters. Here giant blocks of rock have tumbled down Flora Valley from the parent formation higher up, and two of these blocks have been made into dry rock camps. Grid Iron Uppper Shelter 4 persons overnight and Grid Iron Lower can take 8. Dry Rock shelters keep dry in the roughest weather.

6 km down from Flora Hut the track divides at what is called the Upper Junction. The track to the left rises on a steady 4 km pull to the Tablelands. In 30 minutes Growler Creek is reached, usually a shady resting place where water gurgles down over mossy rocks, but in flooding rains the Growler lives up to its name as white water cascades down, dancing and seeting in a witches cauldron of sight and sound. There is a wayside shelter here with a couple of bunks to boil up a billy and rest up.

It is 1 hour from Growler to open tussock country of what is called Salisbury' Open. Salisbury Creek meanders dwon through the Open, and a short side side track here leads to a rock shelter, which is well developed from limestone overhang, nicely sheltered from the prevailing south westerlies and lying well to the sun.

Along the main track, beyond Salisbury Creek, 2 chimney mounts indicate the site of Salisbury Hut (1928 - 75) which was a counterpart of Flora Hut, built in a similar style. It was replaced in 1974 by Salisbury Lodge about 1 km further west. Salisbury Lodge commands a very fine view of the western side of the Arthur Range and is ideally suited for use by school, or other groups , or families.

Hut: Grid Iron Rock Shelters: 12 bunks; Growler Shelter, 2 bunks; Dry Rock Shelter 10 bunks; Salisbury lodge 24 bunkes, gas burners provide heating & cooking

Grid Iron Swingbridge
Grid Iron Swing Bridge
Track Signage
Track Signage
Track Bridge
Track Bridge
Mount Arthur Hut - Gordons Pyramid (8 km, 3 hours)

Leaving Mount Arthur Hut follow the track to the top of the first big tussock slope. From this point sidle down easily towards the sink holes at the head of the Horseshoe Creek and climb out the other side to the steep little saddle leading to Gordons Pyramid, staying at scrub level.

Continue over Gordons Pyramid and down the western side to the start of the track to Tablelands which is indicated by a red disc on the uppermost tree. There are no guide poles on this route so it should not be attempted in thick weather Average time Mount Arthur - Salisbury Lodge 3 - 4 hours

Salisbury Track Signage
Track Signage
Salisbury Lodge
Salisbury Lodge
Salisbury Open
Salisbury Open
Gordons Pyramid from Flora Track (8 km, 3 hours)
Cross Horseshoe Creek and a side track takes off to the left, leading up to Clouston's Old Mine. This is a benched graded track and was formed in 1911 for R.E. Clouston who was at that time opening up a gold mine high on spurs of Gordons Pyramid. The mine never showed a profit and was soon abandoned. This is an alternative route to the Tablelands and although the Flora Track is much less strenous and should always be taken in doubtful weather, the view from Gordons Pyramied is spectacular and well worth the climb. To get to the Tablelands this way takes a short half day.
Salisbury Lodge - Gordons Pyramid - Mount Arthur Hut Flora Car Park ( 5 - 6 hours, 14 km)
From Salisbury Lodge walk back to Gordons Pyramid Signpost. Follow the track through the forest up to the bushline. A marked route then leads over Gordons Pyramid (1489m) and follows a sometimes - narrow ridge above Mount Arthur Hut. Turn left and descend to the hut, then through forest to Flora Car Park.
Gordons Pyramid (3.5km,1.5 hours)
From the door of Salsibury Lodge looking eastwards, a red disc can be seen on the bush edge about a km distance. The track to Gordons Pyramid and the Potholes enteres the bush at this point. A minute or two inside the bush a sign pointing right indicates the Potholes, while the track veering left leads to Gordons Pyramid. It is about 1.5 / 2 hours from Salisbury Lodge to Gordons Pyramid Trig. Dont Forget your camera.
Potholes ( Round Trip 3 km, 1.5 hours)
Entering the bush as above take the track marked Potholes and almost immediately emerge into a chain of vast natural limestone sink holes. Lush grasses grow here in sweet soil and fallow deer are occasionally seen. Sometimes, on fine warm evenings, native bats may be seen in the sky overhead. Guide poles link up the chain of sink holes and show the way through to Sphinx Creek ( which dissappears into a cave ) will bring you out in Sphinx Gully not far below the Lodge.
The Caves ( Round Trip 3 km, 1.5 hours)
Richards Cave and Pillar Car lie a half hour to the west of Salisbury Lodge. A marked track at one time led to them but the markers were removed when they were damaged by vandals. Even so the caves are not hard to find and anyone genuinely interested could get directions, if necessary, from DOC staff.
Arthur Range
Arthur Range
Gordons Pyramid Salisbury Lodge
Gordons Pyramid
Tablelands Track
Balloon Hut (4.25 km, 1.5 hours)
Balloon Hut is 4.25km or about 1.5 hours by the direct track from Salisbury Lodge to Balloon Hut. Balloon Hut, built in 1963, has 14 bunks and a gas heater. An alternative route back to Salisbury Lodge is to follow Balloon Creek down for 2 or 3 km. Signs of old diggings will be found all down the creek. The climb back up to Starvation Ridge should be made in the vicinity of Comiskey Creek, the last side creek before the valley closes in a bit further down. Allow 3 hours hut to hut via Balloon Creek

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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