Mole Tops:

Trampers transport to National Parks in the top of the South Island of New Zealand
Track Transport, Heaphy Track Nelson, Nelson Lakes Mole Tops


By Monika Szyburska (Our Monnie)


A 4-day moderate tramp for people who would like to experience a bit of adventure and the real backcountry hiking in the less visited part of Nelson Lakes National Park.

1. MATAKI LODGE – MOLE TOPS/MOLE HUT via JAMESON RIDGE (3-4 HOURS + extra time to explore the Tops) The track starts on the north bank of the Mole Steam. Follows the stream for a short while and then angles away uphill to the crest of the ridge. Well-marked, goes through beech forest, then opens above the bushline. You will find Mole Hut (recently renovated, 4-bunk hut) back down the stream, nestling in a sunny spot just below the bushline. Another option to reach the hut is taking the Mole Stream track (about 3-4 hours). After leaving the backpack at the hut, the tramper is off to explore the Mole Tops which offer excellent views over Nelson Lakes and Kahurangi National Parks (Mahanga and Travers Ranges, Lake Rotoroa down below, Mt. Owen in the distance). Getting to the Tops is easy, following a well-defined ridge starting at the Mole Saddle. A few broad tarns, little water basins make a good spot for overnight camping.

2. MOLE HUT – D’URVILLE HUT via MOLE-TIRAUMEA RIDGE and TIRAUMEA HUT (7 HOURS) Following the poled route across the Mole Saddle, the tramper soon finds the beginning of Mole-Tiraumea track starting at the bushline. It does more ups and downs that is apparent from the map and the hike is slowed down by many fallen trees on the path. The other thing the tramper needs to be aware of are the old red and white track markers, which sometimes are not clearly visible. It seems DOC has neglected this track for a few years. After 5 hours of walking there is quite a steep drop to open flats and the tidy 6-bunk Tiraumea Hut, good spot for lunch and a dip in the nearby stream. From here it is an easy 2-hour walk to D’Urville Hut on a well-maintained track through dense, pretty beech forest. D’Urville Hut (10 bunks) sits on the shore of Lake Rotoroa, being a popular weekend spot for anglers, hunters and paddlers. Beware of the eels that become active after sunset and tend to bite late swimmers.

3. MT. MISERY - A DAY TRIP FROM D’URVILLE HUT (6-7 HOURS) Starting from D’Urville Hut, allow about 30 minutes to reach the junction for Mt. Misery Hut track. The only obstacle on the way is unbridged D’Urville River. In low water it can be managed easily barefoot by a river-crossing experienced tramper and keeping the boots dry for the rest of the day. The actual Mt. Misery track (3 hours up, 1.5 hours back) is quite a steep climb zig-zaging through beech forest, then reaching a ridge which takes you to the bushline. From here the tramper follows a well-visible path to the top. Cosy, little hut hiding on a sheltered tarn is a beautiful spot for lunch and leg stretching. Just behind the hut there is a poled route along the Mahanga Range. The tramper can easily follow it to explore the area and admire awesome views of Mt. Hopeless and Mt. Cupola (The Travers Range).

4. D’URVILLE HUT – ROTOROA via SABINE HUT and LAKE ROTOROA TRACK (8-9 HOURS) For more adventurous end of the tramp it is recommended to walk along the eastern shore of Lake Rototoa. From D’Urville Hut it is 2.5 hours to Sabine Hut (remember about crossing the D’Urville River). The track takes the tramper over The Sabine River Gorge where there are good chances to spot a fish in shiny blue waters. The Lake Track starts at Sabine Hut. Although the sign says 5 hours, the tramper has to allow good 7 hours as the track is not maintained anymore, overgrown in places, with a few fallen trees blocking the way. All in all it is a pleasant forest walk, jumping over a number of little creeks, offering nice swimming places on tiny, secluded lake beaches. The end of the track is at the picnic and info place in Rotoroa township.

Weather Update 10 day forecast for West coast.

What to take Ideas on what to pack for the tramp (My packing list!)

Track update by DOC.

Existing & Budget trips If you want to combine on an existing trip.

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[- Track Descriptions -]