Arthur, Mt

Mt Arthur, with track and cairn in foreground

Also known as Wharepapa

“I expect to come this way but once.

Any goodness therefore that I do,

Or any kindess that I can show to my fellow creatures,

Let me do it now.

Let me not defer or neglect it,

For I may not pass this way again”

Quote by Stephen Grellet, etched into the railing of Mt Arthur Hut

Named after the founder of the Nelson settlement (Captain Arthur Wakefield), Mt Arthur can be seen from both Nelson and Motueka. Situated amongst the karst landscape of the Mt Arthur ‘Tablelands’, the tramp to the summit shows off the complex maze of sinkholes, potholes, and caves that intertwine in this area. Another highlight is the exceptionally pretty grove of mountain neinei, which grow on the ridge leading to Mt Arthur Hut.

List Status Official
Elevation 1,795 m (5,889 ft)
Location/List South Island, New Zealand
Region Nelson/Marlborough
Location Coordinates 41° 13′ 4″ S, 172° 40′ 54″ E
Nearest Town/s Motueka, Nelson
Range Arthur Range
Geology Sedimentary
Recommended Route
Duration Help.gif 8 hours (return)
Distance 16.0 km (9.9 mi)
Start/End Points Flora Saddle Carpark
Difficulty Help.gif Hard
Track conditions Help.gif Path, Track, Scramble, Snow/Ice (seasonal)
Season Help.gif December to April
Sights Views, Huts , Mt Arthur Hut, views of the Tablelands
Hazards Alpine weather, Snow, Ice, Mist , caves, sink holes

Getting There

By Car

From the main road through Motueka, turn toward Murchison (marked by a green sign). Follow the road through Motueka and through the countryside. You will come to a sign to Mt Arthur Track. Follow the sign and turn right accross the Alexander Bluff Bridge, and then left on to Motueka West Bank Road, which has a Mt Arthur Track Sign (22 km). After 11 km you reach an intersection. The sign points straight on, so continue following the sign. The road changes to a gravel road. Follow Graham Valley South Branch Road. For the last 6 km the road is corrugated, rough and very steep in places. A 4WD vehicle is recommended (although when we arrived at the top, there was a vast assortment vehicle types – whether they got safely down again is another question!).

Google Earth Map

NZ Topographic Map

Our Recommended Route

The track to the summit of Mt Arthur begins from the Flora Saddle carpark, where there is a shelter and a toilet. The Flora Shelter contains a number of interesting informational panels, and was opened by Prime Minister Jim Bolger in 1996. The track starts from behind the shelter and heads up the wide path past the gate. For the first hour and a half or so, conditions underfoot are good, with the path continuing up on to an atmospheric ridge covered in beech forest, and then up to the Mt Arthur Hut, which is situated on the bushline.

Have a hunt around the hut for the engraved quotation, and a take few moments to admire the peak of Lodestone, which is northeast from the hut. You can of course overnight in the hut if you want to break the journey, but Mt Arthur can just as easily be bagged in a return day tramp.

Follow the signpost to Mt Arthur Trig and leave the Mt Arthur Hut clearing. Almost immediately afterwards, you need to head up to the left on to the top of the ridge that leads towards Mt Arthur. The signposts here only point to Flora Hut and back to Mt Arthur Hut, neither of which you want to go to, so follow the poles up the ridge instead. For the next couple of hours, continue to follow the poles and cairns along the ridge, and you will eventually come to a signposted intersection. The signpost here indicates the way down across Horseshoe Basin and over to Gordon’s Pyramid, but to get to Mt Arthur, head left and continue along the ridge.

If you’re feeling a bit tired by this stage, unfortunately the next section will do little to lift your spirits. The track now climbs and descends three times before reaching the foot of the final scramble to the summit. The tramping does get a little more difficult beyond the Horseshoe Basin intersection, with a couple of steepish scree slopes to contend with. You then need to sidle across back towards the flat summit of Mt Arthur, before doing little scrambling up the last two steep sections just below the summit. As always, it’s not as difficult as it looks from a distance, and you’ll be on the summit before you know it!

Unlike the sheltered northeastern face you scrambled up, the summit is fairly exposed to the south, and the windchill here might come as a shock! Be sure to rug up before you make the final scramble to the summit, and once there, you can always take refuge behind the summit cairn.

Return via the same route, which may or may not be slightly quicker, depending on how your body’s holding up! It took us 8 hours to complete this tramp (4 hrs 30 mins up and 3 hrs 30 mins down).