Walks to Mt Arthur, North Peak and the Champion Copper smelter and mine.

Mt Arthur Walk:   We arranged the walks for our 50+ walking group the month of January and Mt Arthur (1795m asl)  was second on the list. Twenty walkers started off at the Flora carpark (at 920m asl) to head up to the Mt Arthur Hut (1310m asl) in time for morning tea. 

After a cuppa, a spell, and offering a small crumb to a weka, some went down to the Flora Hut, some just went back down, while the rest headed uphill towards the summit. I was interested in seeing what or if any of the alpine plants were in flower so dropped down into Horseshoe Basin. I had thought that there would be a good array of flowering plants out but it was a disappointing show with the odd celmisia flowering but we did see several mountain buttercups flowering  on the steep banks of the tarn.  What was missing in comparing to earlier years of, say 2004-05 was  eyebrights and epilobium in flower. These species, and similar, grew in large clumps especially just up on the ridge above the hut, with masses of flowers. Nothing of interest down there so climbed back up to the main ridge again and wandered along to have a look at the tarn just off the main track and watched the people on the summit before heading back to the carpark. 

Will feeds a weka at the Mt Arthur Hut.

It is a good walk and once the hut is passed and a little climb up onto the exposed ridge and above the tree-line, one just follows the main ridge along the skyline, passing the track turnoff to Horseshoe Basin and Salisbury Lodge until the more difficult part is reached. I’ve stayed in the hut a few times but one day I’d like to spend the night out in the open on that ridge and watch the sunrise over the Eastern hills of the Richmond Ranges in the far distance. One day. 

The skyline from nearby our place in Richmond of where we tramped.

North Peak: This is another alpine day walk on the way to St Arnaud but turning off to climb up to Inwards Lookout, a fire lookout but now an unmanned. It’s a forestry road through plantation pines and a bit rough in places, to the car park at the lookout buildings. 

Looking back from were we had lunch.

The track starts climbing through a small section of exotic pines, then native beech, passing through small clearings, until coming out onto the tops with scattered bushes and tussock. As with any ridge track, it goes up and down but gradually gaining altitude most of the time.  Along the way where the ridge narrows, the track sidles over some rock scree and such, making for slower progress, especially when coming down!  

We reached the top ridge, went along the ridge a little to North Peak and then found a sheltered spot in the sun to have lunch.  Upon walking along and down the ridge a bit to another knob and at this point one has great views but more to the South West. From our lunch spot though, one looked down on the upper Motueka valley, spot the Hunters Hut far below, the Red Hills, Mt Ellis, and the saddle that looks down on the upper (or right branch) Wairoa Hut. Across the Wairau valley, the Raglan Range and far down towards Blenheim. Some of our group (fifteen in all) thought that they could see three to four different huts. I’m not sure of that though but it certainly was a grand view. 

Heading down in the mist.

A cloud of mist rose from up the valley so we set off before the mist completely enveloped the track and features but the mist cleared the lower we went. The alpine flower of interest was an orchid of the Thelymitra family, with many flowering along the edge of the track. Quite exquisite in all their purple glory. 

The DoC sign damaged by idiots.

Not good at all was the senseless idiots, who no doubt call themselves hunters, who shot up a Department of Conservation sign. I’m a hunter myself  and find this sort of thing most deplorable. It’s so frustrating as hunters get the blame, besides the dumbbells couldn’t shoot properly anyway, not once hitting the mark they made on the sign.  

Champion Copper Mine: The Champion mine is up the Aniseed Valley, just over the Richmond Hills from our place and down the other side but about a 35 to 40 minute drive to the carpark. And then it’s about and hour and a half’s walk to the smelter site along a forestry road. One the way there are two stream crossings but one is about twice the size of a stream so I guess one would call that a river?  And once the smelter site is reached, it’s across another river so it’s wet boots or some risky rock hopping to get across. 

The smelter site is in a clearing with slag heaps, some brickwork remains and the brick chimney peeping out from the surrounding bush. Nothing is restored although there is an information board and even a picnic table.  We had our morning tea here anyway.

Remains at the smelter site on the way to the copper mine.
Remains of the old tramway line.

The first section of the walk was open to the sun a little which resulted in grass growing in large clumps. As the track picked its way through rocks mostly obscured by the long grass, it made walking a little tiring on this section. This was only for about 15 minutes though and then the track cleared and continued to followed the old tramway line to the smelter. Some occasional slips across the track made it a bit up and down but soon we came to where the track hugs closely to a cliff face and lo and behold, there still is some of the old tramway rails that have survived the elements. Wooden rails but with a strap of flat steel, that was either on top or perhaps one side, for the tram wheels to run on.  Cheaper no doubt than a normal all iron railway line. It appears that the empty wagons where hauled by horses up to the mine but once the wagons were loaded with the copper ore, they sped down to the smelter via gravity. 

The old tramway track.

We reached the mine site around 12 noon and had our lunch. After a little exploring we headed back along the old tramway. I would like to spend some time exploring the old mine site though. 

On the way back, some took the shortcut, a steeper downhill section to reach the forestry road again (about 15 to 20minutes) while some walked back to the smelter, met the others along the track and then back along the open road in the hot sun, to the cars. 

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