A Morning on Mount Malita
A decent climb of around 5kms up to the 959m peak of Mount Malita is a great way to spend a day if you’re around the Richmond area of Nelson. We managed the up and down (just over 10Kms with +750m elevation) with a leisurely lunch at the top in around 4.5 hours. It wasn’t the prettiest walk I’ve done and much of it is on easy roads through forestry plantation, but it has great views from the top.
To get to Mount Malita take the Aniseed Valley road off SH6 between Hope and Brightwater, and continue for around 15Kms to the Roding car park. En-route you will drive past the car park for the Hacket track (which heads up to Hacket hut – part of Te Araroa Trail) then continue on a mostly unslealed, and fairly narrow road until you get to a closed gate. If like us, you missed the car park, you’ll back up a little and see it just across to the right. It has a number of good information boards and a surprisingly decent drop toilet.
Before the climb
The trail starts at around 180m elevation. From the car park we went over the gate and crossed the concrete ford over the Roding river. If you’re feeling brave you can rock-hop the river adjacent to the ford. I didn’t want to get my shoes and socks wet so I took them off to cross the ford. Once over the ford we passed some farm buildings to our left and signed the intentions book in the little shelter shortly afterwards. We followed the Old Summit road into the forest and began to climb steadily.
Old Summit Road
After a Km or so and couple of switchback turns later, we came across the turnoff for the Old Malita road on a left-hand bend. This leads you up to the right through the forest itself. We opted against going up it, and decided to come down it on the way back instead. We continued climbing on the forestry road and came out into the open which had been logged. It was a warm Autumn day – if you’re doing this in summer it would be an extremely hot climb, so make sure you bring enough water with you. There isn’t any water at all on the track after the Roding river.
We continued on for another couple of Kms or so, and stopped to chat to a lovely elderly lady walking her dogs. We admired her for attempting this climb on an almost daily basis.
At around 550m we passed a turning off to the left and had a bit of a break to admire the views. Continuing up to the right we joined up with the Old Malita road again. Shortly we came to a split in the road. The Old Summit road continued to the left and Spar road headed right. We were heading straight ahead up an unnamed track in the middle. From here there was a small, steep section through low bushes and gorse.
The Final Climb
The 4-wheel drive track came to an end and the walking track continued up to the left. This was probably the nicest section of the track. It continued up to a grassy area interspersed with a few low trees and some interesting limestone rock outcrops. The trail was marked from here with a few orange markers.
After 15 minutes or so we reached a small concrete platform, and wondered what it was for. I later found out from the marvellous Nelson Trails website that it was built in 1962 to support a telescope and shelter. Apparently the University of Pensylvania investigated the area as a potential observatory site.
Luckily for us, the concrete platform was more than roomy enough for a sit-down and to spread out lunch. The climb had taken an hour and 45 minutes. The views from the top were great, across the Tasman to Takaka Hill and across the Kahurangi National Park to Mount Arthur. It was definitely the worth the climb through the not-so-exciting forestry surrounds.
After a pretty leisurely lunch we had a quick scout around for the hut. Having recently discovered the marvellous site Hutbagger NZ I couldn’t leave without popping my head around the door. We discovered it a little way down the hill to the South. It was a cute two-bedder owned by the Council.
Old Malita Road
On the way back down we admired the views across the Richmond ranges before we disappeared into the forest down the Old Malita Road.
The Old Malita road section was quite pretty. We came upon a couple of chairs and a random trig, which the dog-walking ladty had mentioned to use was a good spot for a rest and a coffee. She wasn’t wrong!
We came out of the forest, and crossed back over the ford again. We were back at the car in good time. It took us around 4.5 hours all up. This trail is definitley worth exploring if not for the views en-route, definitely for the fitness, and the views from the top. If you’re some kind of masochist and enjoy running distances up hills, it would make a pretty decent trail run too 🙂