Location: Douglas and Arthur ranges, Kahurangi NP Number of Days: Eight Grade: Med/Fit
Start Location: Aorere Valley Rd, Bainham Number in Party: Two Organisation: Private Trip
Finish Location: Flora Saddle Leader: Peter Waworis Weather: Fine > Heavy rain, high winds

Proposed Route:  As the classic route into Boulder Lake from James Road Right Branch was inaccessible as the bridge over the Aorere river had been washed away in the Dec 2010 floods we planned to start further west from a private road off the Quartz Range road. This gives access to Boulder lake via the Lead Hills (permission to cross land - farmer: Len Rapley Ph 03 5248581).

Last minute change: DoC constructed a swingbridge across the Aorere river in mid Feb so we now plan to use the classic route from James Rd.

  • Sat Day 1 - Start 3-4pm - (old plan) Roadend up onto Lead Hills (to Boulder Lake 6hrs 9.2km +1000m). New plan. Start James Rd bridge and walk along track until finding suitable campsite and camp for night
  • Day 2 - Complete journey to Boulder Lake and explore area.
  • Day 3 - Boulder Lake to Adelaide Tarn 5-6hrs 7km
  • Day 4 - Adelaide Tarn to Lonely Lake hut via Anatoki river.
  • Day 5 - Lonely Lake hut to Fenella Hut 6-8hrs 10.6
  • Day 6 - Fenella Hut up onto Peel range probably camp out
  • Day 7 - Continue to Balloon hut.
  • Day 8 - Balloon hut via Gordons Pyramid to climb Mt Arthur and back to Arthur hut.
  • Day 9 - Arthur Hut to Flora Saddle. Nelson Lakes shuttle to return us to Nelson airport from Flora saddle at 8:45am

Proposed Route Map Trip Image Gallery Trip Report DoC Douglas Range Route Guide

Bailout Options

From Adelaide Tarn out via Anatoki River to McCallum Road OR longer route via Lake Stanley to Uruwhenua Road.

  • From Fenella Hut take Cobb river track rather than Peel range tops

Poor Weather alternatives

  • Lay day for bad weather - don't climb Mt Arthur on Saturday
  • 2 lay days for bad weather - Balloon hut out to Flora Saddle
  • 3 lay days for bad weather - Fenella hut out to Flora Saddle via Cobb river track .

Party Members - Dennis Brown,Peter Waworis(Leader), Sally our third member pulled out due to CHCH earthquake.

Day One

  • DetailsStarted at James Rd, Bainham. Crossed new DoC swingbridge over the Aorere river and walked 2.3km to the end of James Rd right branch. Follow the poles up a farm track that reverts to a 4 wheel drive track higher up. Easy travel but few views once in the bush.
  • Time/Km traveled:2.5hrs, 9.6km
  • Hut/Campsite details incl Grid ReferenceCamped on the track, GR: 2474030, 6041961. Height 565m
  • Water source: Nil

Day Two

  • Details: Good marked track, looked for water at Beathams Clearing down sign posted trail but found nothing and turned back when streambed got too steep and slippery. Track up over Cow saddle and down to Boulder lake is obvious in relatively well defined and easy going (in good conditions).
  • Time/KM Travelled: 4hrs, 10.5km
  • Hut/Campsite details incl Grid Reference: Boulder lake hut ( 8 bunk) Topo50 map sheet BP24, E1564529, N5472183
  • Water Source: Stream/waterfall behind old hut

Day Three

  • Details: No easy route thru tussock and so big holes and old stream beds a bit of a hazard. Navigate to the clear patch at bottom of spur where an easy route takes you up to the saddle and around to Green saddle. A good cairned route sidles around Spot Height 1450 and rejoins the ridge. On approaching Spot Height 1411 the route sidles along 1360 contour going somewhat further along than I anticipated before climbing up to the Needles Eye and dropping down to the hut. Shouldn't pose any problems unless wet and high winds.
  • Time/Km traveled: 3.5hrs travelling time, 7.46kmRoute GPX file
  • Hut/Campsite details incl Grid Reference:  Adelaide Tarn hut( 3 bunks) Topo50 map sheet BP23, E1561630, N5467585
  • Water source: Streams running into lake behind hut

Day Four

  • Details:The most obvious lower route by-passing the Dragons Teeth started on the saddle to the east of Mt Douglas which separates from the Dragons Teeth route after about 50-100m and drops down a steep rock gut into the bush. Hook around to the left and you should quickly pick up the head-waters of the stream and follow this down to the valley floor. Often we found it easier descending in the Dracophylla beside the streambed which provided a semi-controlled slide. Once lower down the route keeps to the true left and there is a reasonably well trodden path which requires a good trail sense to maintain. There are huge boulders on the valley floor that have split off from the Dragons teeth above and crashed down, luckily all seemed to have been there for decades. The route meanders around these and at times climbs higher than you would expect. At SP744 we found a pink ribbon tried on an overhanging branch in the river on the true right. We picked up the spur easily enough and clambered up again sticking with the Dracophylla where possible as it seemed to be a bit less overgrown in among st them. We had poor visibility on the tops sidling around Drunken Sailor and lost the cairns a number of times but it was fairly straight forward to pick out the likely route. From the saddle the route followed the stream down the valley to the hut which was located on the bushline.
  • Time/Km traveled:6.75hrs, 8.7km GPX File of route.
  • Hut/Campsite details incl Grid Reference:Lonely Lake hut (3 bunks)Topo50 map sheet BP23, E1562830, N5463087
  • Water source: Stream on track behind toilet
  • Day Five

  • Details: A small climb from the hut had us back on the tops with a well defined route to SP 1610. The route undulates before a bigger climb to siddle around Kakapo peak. The route south looks quite daunting but the siddle below Waingaro Peak was easier than expected with the trail still well defined. A poled route then leads you down to off the tops to Fenalla. 
  • Time/Km traveled: 6hrs, 10.5km
  • Hut/Campsite details incl Grid Reference: Fenella Hut (12 bunk), Topo50 map sheet BP23, E1560131, N5455690
  • Water source: Hut water tank

Day Six/Seven

  • DetailsBack on a DoC track it was an easy 3.5hr hike down the valley to the track leading up out of the valley onto the tableland. (Lake Peel trk). This track starts off at a very gentle gradient and only steepens towards the top. Nice sidle around to Lake Peel and a small climb onto the tops before descending to Balloon hut. We stayed here an extra day as the weather deteriorated that night and didn't clear for 36 hours.
    Peel Range
    We had intended to climb up onto the Peel range from the Round lake track and travel down this to Balloon hut. However the lack of information on route options around some of the steeper peaks and forecast bad weather in 24 hours time had us discount this. As we later discovered this was a good option as travel especially around Prospect Peak could be problematic in poor visibility. In the Balloon hutbook we found an entry of someone coming down the range from Lake Henderson in 12 hours.
  • Time/Km traveled: 6.5hrs, 21.1km
  • Hut/Campsite details incl Grid Reference: Balloon Hut ( 14 bunk), Topo50 map sheet BP24, E1568326, N5442395
  • Water source: Hut water tank

Day Eight/Nine

  • DetailsStarted off taking low route to Mr Arthur hut but with cloud cover burning off took the Cloustons mine track up onto Gordons pyramid and onto Mt Arthur. This track undulates a fair bit from the pyramid and doesn't follow the route marked on the topo map(check the route map). There is a lot of broken rock and holes in the earth and it wouldn't be a good place to travel thru in low visibility. Once on the main track to Mt Arthur summit the track was well beaten track.
    Following morning hiked down to Flora carpark
  • Time/Km traveled: 6.5hrs, 24km / 1hrs, 3.5km
  • Hut/Campsite details incl Grid Reference: Mt Arthur hut(8 bunk), Topo50 map sheet BQ24, E1576023, N5439296
  • Water source: Hut water tank
Total Trip km: 95km. Completed 
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