Mount Cawte – Pelorous Sound
Mount Cawte is a beautiful half-day walk in the Pelorous Sound. If you’re local to Nelson/Marlborough, or if you’re driving the Queen Charlotte Road from Picton to Havelock and fancy stretching your legs for a few hours to get some nice views, this is a great option.
Our drive North from Nelson to Havelock (approx 1.5 hours) included the obligatory cafe take-away stop. This time at Tozetti in Nelson. The size of the bakery delights at Tozettis have to be seen to be believed. We went for a giant savoury scone, a giant sweet slice, and because it looked so delicious a giant (and messy if you’re eating it in the car without cutlery) potato croquette with hollandaise. We turned off the SH6 at Havelock and headed down the Queen Charlotte Drive to Linkwater, then hung a left onto the Kenepuru Road, and another towards Moetapu Bay.
I don’t recall there being any signage for the walk, but it’s easy enough to find on the map. We started from the Moetapu Bay end, which is on a bend with a layby opposite for parking. We started walking at 1.30 pm and were back at the car by 4 pm.
Mount Cawte Loop
The track heads up, over and down the mountain, with a road walk back to the car, and you may wish to start from the Hoods Bay end if you prefer your road walk to be downhill. Upon starting at Moetapu Bay we were immediately into the climb, pausing to sign the little track intentions book located just up the hill.
After signing in, we began the roughly 300m of steady climb through regenerating bush. The track was in good shape with lots of steps. We were pleased to be joined now and again by a couple of inquisitive fantails and a weka.
We had picked a warm, sunny Autumn day, and were glad of the shade along the track. As we climbed we got some nice views of Pelorous Sound, and there were a couple of benches en route in case anyone needed a rest.
After about 45 minutes we had finished most of the climb and reached a beautiful rock outcrop with amazing views across the Pelorous Sound.
Over the Top of Mt Cawte
After the initial climb, the track leveled off for about 1.5 Kms over the top section. We found a bench and enjoyed a 20-minute lunch stop in the sun. It was all pretty easy after that. The track led us through some sections of beech forest, and near the high point (474m) we arrived at a plaque detailing the efforts that had gone into making the track by Outward Bound students.
Going down the mountain towards Hoods Bay was a breeze, and we thought this would have been the easier way to come up as it wasn’t quite as steep.
We arrived at the Hoods Bay track exit at 3.15 pm, and briskly walked the very pleasant 3 Kms or so gently uphill back to the car. We didn’t see anyone at all on our return and arrived at the car at 4 pm.
This was a lovely short walk – I’m sure one we’ll come back to, for a loop in reverse one day.