Mt Vernon Grand TraverseBeginner - Intermediate
Submitted by Philip Taylor
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Front country - easily accessible
Undulating, some big hills
Plantation/exotic forestOpen farmlandsOpen tussock/grasslandsOpen ridges/tops
Beginner - Intermediate
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Be sure to print off or download a copy of the Wither Hills Farm Park map.
In short, the route is as follows: Redwood St car park - Lower Farm Park Track - Forest Hills Track - Gentle Annie Track - Twin Tank Walk - Taylor View Track - Split Apple Peak Track - Mt Vernon Track - Cob Cottage Track - Mapp Track - Redwood St car park
More detailed route described as follows: From the car park at top of Redwood St head out on to the road and run towards town for 200m to a sign on the left-hand side saying 'Lower Farm Track to Taylor Pass Road' next to a cattle grid. This is the main track that will take you all along the bottom of the Wither Hills for just over 3km before making our bid to gain a ridge and head out the back and over the tops.
There are a few times where other tracks intersect this track but as long as you eyeball Lower Farm Track signage and don't start running up hills too much, you'll be fine. After 2km Total Distance Covered (TDC) the Harling Park track intersects the track you're on. Stay on your track, head down the hill (about 300m long with car park and toilets on your right) and go straight over the wooden bridge and take a sharp right taking the right-hand side track through the trees.
Keep on this track through gates and intersection until you see a sign for Gentle Annie Track to Rotary Lookout at about 3.3km TDC. Take this left-hand turn through a field to a gate. From this point the climbing starts with many undulations ahead before being able to claim the Mt Vernon summit. Pace yourself! At 4.4km TDC you arrive at the Rotary Lookout (affectionately referred to as the Witches Hat by the township). Go straight on at this point and look to the distant ridgeline occupying the horizon. This is where we're going.
At 5.5km TDC take the right hand (not the well formed) track on the left. Now on the main ridgeline this takes us all the way around to Mt Vernon - as long as you take the tracks closest the fence-line and don't take any tracks that run in the direction of town. Go past the intersection for Reservoir Ridge Track (water available here) and Sutherland Stream Track and at 10.1km TDC the Split Apple Tracks intersects with the Mt Vernon ridge track. Take a sharp right here for 300m to arrive at the top of Mt Vernon.
Take a breather, enjoy the 360 degree views including Mt Tapuae-o-uenuku, Wellington and the Richmond Ranges. Once done head downhill. Go past the junction where we turned right and to the Airstrip and Fertiliser storage unit. At this point take a right down Cob Cottage Track. This is a fast descent but can be rocky and loose underfoot. Grassy verges on the left and right hand side of the track are sometimes good but beware of your ankles! After 2km of downhill with 14.3km TDC take a left onto the Mapp Track. There's now only 3.8km separating you from the finish but it's an undulating 3.8km that will take from you all you have left. Once rounding the top of the final undulation you will spot the car park. Charge down the hill and over the little wooden bridge to finish.
Features of interest
360 degree views including Mt Tapuae-o-uenuku, Wellington and the Richmond Ranges
Make Up of Run
Easy Single Track: 10%
Farm Road / 4WD Track: 90%
The following trails overlap with this run to some degree. You may wish to combine them but please note that to qualify for FKTs on these runs you should record a separate Strava activity for each
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The car park at the very top end of Redwood St
Plenty of parking and if car park full then can park out on street
Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Beanie/thermal headwear, Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Cellphone, Map.
No water at Redwood St car park.
Water at junction of Reservoir Ridge Track.
Water at junction of Mt Vernon Ridge Track.
Summer can be very very hot with fire risk so not recommended.
Also strong winds can be a problem as not much vegetation so are exposed to the elements.
The Wither Hills Farm Park is a working farm so need to be aware of cattle and grazing sheep.
Post run indulgence
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See other runs nearby:
Wairau Lagoons Loop
Tokomaru, Mt Robertson Circuit
Wairau Lagoons Loop v2
King and Queen of the Withers
Mt Sunday - Mt Riley Loop
Quest for Mt Richmond
Northbank to Nelson Traverse
Havelock to Picton Link Pathway
A Full Chalice
Patriarch Road and Goulter Valley
Pukaka Valley Track
The golden Waikakaho trail
Pelorus Loop Track
Torea Bay to Picton Loop
A taste of the Richmond Ranges TA Alpine route