Mt Arthur – Summer Summit DIY Adventure Guide

A staggering adventure through alpine beech forest and limestone bluffs yielding panoramic vistas of a land before time

Transport

The Mt Arthur Hut track is accessible via the Flora Saddle, Kahurangi National Park, NZ. The Saddle lies at the top of the Graham Valley South Branch Rd; A gravel road with a steep gradient, best accessed with a 4wd, or at least with a car with a decent bit of clearance. The ‘Flora Saddle’ carpark has a toilet and water source with unlimited parking time. Beware there are Kea here so make sure you keep all of your gear close at hand when prepping your pack.

What clothing/footwear should I Bring in my Day Pack?

Footwear: Boots with ankle support are advised but not strictly required. A hiking shoe will do fine, as long as you have sturdy ankles and good balance. Ideal boots would possess just enough rigidity to walk on loose rock without folding too much, however a shank would be overkill for the majority of this climb. A pair of Salomon 4D 3GTX boots are the best candidate for this summer trip.

Legs: Shorts will do the trick in sunny weather and Gaiters are overkill as there are no river crossings and little potential for flora to access your boots.

Upper Body: Even on the sunniest, calmest days, prepare for cold wind and sunburn. Whilst the trail begins in the bush, it eventually meanders out onto a ridge far above the bush-line, thus wind and sun exposure increases dramatically. To compensate, I suggest a minimum of a breathable long sleeve shirt, Down Mid-layer and wind-breaking waterproof shell.

Headwear: A beanie and gloves may also be useful if the clouds blow in. Again, check your weather prior to leaving. Glasses are also a must, as the glorious views will be painful without uv protection.

What food should I bring?

I burnt 2234 calories completing the summit as a day trip from flora. Once again as a day trip, I wouldn’t get carried away matching calorie for calorie, however, i’d advise a couple thousand calories as it is a 6.5 hour return trip. My go to was once again, crackers, cheese, salami, one square meals, dark chocolate and mixed nuts and raisins.

Water

There are two potential water sources on the trail. The first at the Flora Car park and the next at the Mt Arthur Hut. You can check the water status of the Mt Arthur Hut here. It will sometimes have a ‘dry’ alert in the summer, as was the case when I completed the summit. I would recommend bringing a vessel with a 1.5L carrying capacity, as you can fill it at flora, drink it on your way up to the hut, then fill it at the hut, drink to summit, and fill it up un the same locations on your way back down.

Maps + GPS

Click here to download my GPX file

Additionally, here is the link to the old faithful DOC description.

How physically difficult is it?

At the time of measuring this, I possessed a moderate-high level of fitness.

Average heart rate 110bpm (58% of max). Max heart rate 162bpm (85% of max).
Percentage of time spent in heart rate zones 1-5
How technical is it?

Moderate difficulty, non-technical in summer. The route is easily navigable with a combination of rock cairns, marker poles and a well worn trail. GPS is probably not required, but it is always nice if the weather turns south. The route become steadily steeper and more of a scramble the closer to the summit. Steep fatal falls are also possible and I would not advise attempting the route if you lack balance and coordination. There are also numerous limestone caves within the area and there is a chance you could fall into one if not adhering to the track. Explore off track at your own risk. I recommend taking a personal locater beacon.

Nature and Science

Dracophyllum Traversii or the ‘Mountain Nei Nei’ is worth recognising on this trek. On your way through the bush up to Mt Arthur Hut, keep your eyes peeled for New Zealand’s oldest living indigenous small tree. These cabbage-tree-like plants look strikingly similar to those in Dr Seuss’s ‘The Lorax’. Individuals are documented to live as long as 600 years, with a single tree dropping as many as 750,000 seeds in one event; quite the remarkable plant. See below for a photo of Madison beside our first Mountain Nei Nei. – info sourced from here.

Madison beside a Mountain Nei Nei

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