The Mount Richmond Forest Park usually gets little notice as an adventure destination, as if you are sitting in sunny Nelson, then your focus is usually across the Bay to Kahurangi and Abel Tasman National Parks….. However, there’s some absolute gems hidden in this rugged forest Park, one of my favourites is the Mount Richmond Alpine circuit... It’s been over 10 years since we were up on the beautiful Alpine tops gazing down on Tasman Bay, but it still sits quite strongly in the memory…. I’ll explain why.
Every year me and my partner try to tackle a new multi day tramp to see what is hiding in the back valleys of New Zealand, in 2011 our focus shifted to the Mount Richmond Alpine Range. I had been working building trails and cooking at the Wairoa Gorge Mountain Bike Park , so in my usual style I had been poring over maps of the surrounding area. The Alpine circuit immediately caught my eye; I love to be in the Alpine and this 4-5 day 59 km tramp spends most of its time weaving about at above 1000 metres
Bags were packed, drop offs arranged and we set off for what I will say is probably the hardest day of the tramp. The climb up to Starveall hut is quite long and a constant uphill grade, but it gets you to 1200m and the start of the Alpine circuit.
The Alpine wandering from there on in is quite surreal. It’s quite different to a lot of other tramps we’ve done as it hangs around at the snowline for most of it, and delves into the mineral belt a couple of times. This means you get an incredible mix of tussock lands, alpine beech forest and the strange plants that appear where the mineral belt pushes its way to the surface.
If you are looking for a good medium to hard grade tramping route in the area you will be hard pressed to find something better than the this Alpine Route