Last Updated: 10th Jan 2024


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I've done it Done

Northbank to Nelson Traverse

Blenheim, Marlborough

Submitted by Philip Taylor

Last Updated: 10th Jan 2024


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I've done it Done


Grunt Factor: 100 ?

Gnarl Factor: 67 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Back country - remote

Point to Point (one way)


Native bush


Open tussock/grasslands

Open ridges/tops

Run Makeup


Easy Single Track

Moderate Single Track

Technical Single Track

Untracked / Route only

Average Uphill Gradient: +13.6%

Average Downhill Gradient: -16.9%


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Estimated Times to Run

Not suitable






In short, Timms Creek - Mt Fell Hut - Mt Fell - Chain Ladder - Conical Knob - Middy Creek Hut - Te Araroa Trail to Rocks Hut - Dun Saddle - Coppermine Saddle - Dun Mountain Trail (Brook St/Brook Valley) to Third House Shelter - Eureka Park - Brook St - Tantragee Rd/Brook St intersection.

More detailed:

From the car park take the Timms Creek track along the side of the river. The track has plenty of tree roots and steep ups and downs including numerous stream crossings and is technical underfoot.

After 5.1km cross over the river. This is a substantial river crossing, about knee high (depending on river flow of course). Once over the river the ascent starts. Climb out of the river onto a spur and up a prominent ridge keeping an eye out for the orange triangles that lead the way up to Mt Fell Hut. The vertical gain is around 1000m over 5km so take your time, no need to burn yourself out. Once the hut is in view, carry on past the hut, keeping the hut on your immediate left and the track goes out the back of the hut and then around to the left to pop out of the trees and onto the tops.

In good visibility once out of the bush cover you will be able to see Mt Fell on your right. Carry on up to the main ridge, take a right to the top of Mt Fell (the highest point on the trail). Following orange triangles, red wooden warratahs and red strips in the trees drop steeply down the technical, rocky face of Mt Fell to a saddle. Navigate along the ridgeline and climb/scramble back up following the numerous poles to the 120m "chain ladder". This can be described as a steep rocky chute with a fixed chain bolted to the cliff face to aid descent. After the steep descent (about 80m) the chain traverses around the face of a bluff (about 40m) to the bushline. There's then another small section of chain shortly after. These "chain ladders" present the most obvious dangers and risk and should not be attempted without experience and confidence especially in adverse weather. We tied one end of a 1m long sling to our wrists and the other end we clipped a caribiner to the chain to act as a backup in case of a fall/slip.

The terrain continues to be steep and technical in the bush with undulations and lots of forest debris along the prominent ridge before it drops steeply to Middy Hut. From here the track is like a highway in comparison to the last 20-odd kms. Follow the Te Araroa Trail to Rocks Hut (about 5km) - an 800m climb - and then continue to Dun Saddle (signed Brook St). At Dun Saddle take the left-hand track (signed Andrews Farm) to Coppermine Saddle and then rejoice in being on a very well groomed, easy going, long descent all the way down to Third House Shelter.

At Third House, take a right and follow the easy and wide track all the way to Tantragee Rd (the end of the Dun Mountain Trail) which is easier to navigate or, as per this trail description, at the intersection of where there is a hairpin right to Fringed Hill, a straight on veer right to stay on Dun Mountain Trail or straight on veer left to descend a 4x4 track along the fence line, take the latter and follow the fence line to a large clearing. Head straight across the clearing and follow your nose through a local park heading straight and downwards. Upon exiting the trees and park, a sign shows Eureka Park and Brook St is right in front of you. Head up the road to Tantragee Rd intersection.

This trail includes the peak Mount Fell.

120m chain ladder coming off the tops from Mt Fell. Dun Saddle is like being on the Moon. Also, Dun Mountain Trail is an old railway line.

If you know of any public toilets near the trail start or on the route, please login and then let us know so we can update this section.

Access by private vehicle only. No public transport.

51 km

61 minutes





Waterproof leggings, Thermal leggings, Lightweight fleece top, Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Gloves, Beanie/thermal headwear, Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival blanket, Cellphone, Map, Headtorch and spare batteries, Crampons / microspikes (for winter conditions), Gaiters

Water along Timms Creek, at Mt Fell hut, from Pelorus River at Middy Hut, at Rocks Hut and Third House Shelter

Exposed to all weathers any time of year across the tops from Mt Fell Hut to bushline past Chain Ladder. Also, the tops around Dun Saddle are open to all elements.

The chain ladder. See description

Burger Culture
279 Trafalgar St, Nelson
Awesome $10 shakes served with donuts on top!

Trail Legend

Kate Annan

Kate Annan

has completed Northbank to Nelson Traverse once in the last year.

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Trail Reviews

Awesome write up, what a great adventure. We took a very slightly different track towards the finish up over fringed hill and finished at our end point in Nelson.. The Free House! So... rather than uploading an almost identical track, I'll just claim this one thanks! Agree with your chain ladder comments!

Steve Hanmer

January 31, 2019

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