Last Updated: 30th Nov 2023


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A Fishy Trail

Mt Fishtail Route

North Bank, Marlborough

Submitted by Jennifer Hancock

Last Updated: 30th Nov 2023


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I've done it Done

Grunt Factor: 53

Gnarl Factor: 75







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Trail Map

Type of Run

Back country - remote

Out and Back


With permit

Native bush


Open ridges/tops

Run Makeup


Easy Single Track

Moderate Single Track

Technical Single Track

Average Uphill Gradient: +16.8%

Average Downhill Gradient: -16.9%


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Estimated Times to Run

Not suitable






From Blenheim, make your way to Pine valley road, drive to the carpark near Mill Flat Campsite.

The first 800m is very easy single track, cross the 4 wire swing bridge at Mill Flat Campsite, continue upriver for approx. 3km on undulating technical track until you reach the river crossing of the unnamed tributary flowing from below Mt Fishtail, this is the only river crossing so on a dry day it may pay to remove your shoes. From this point on the track climbs steeply to point 831.

After this the track climbs steadily to 1300m where you exit the tree line and climb across rocks and a previous slip towards Fishtail Hut.  From the hut the route is cairned occasionally, best to head up the rocks to the rear of the hut aiming for the low point between the 2 peaks. Once on the ridge it is a easy climb to the peak of Mt Fishtail.

On a clear day you can see all the way to the Kaikoura ranges and the Wairau valley, with views of the rest of the Richmond ranges.

There is a side trip near the beginning to a waterfall approx. 10 minute off trail. Climb to Mt Fishtail.

Parking for 8-10 vehicles, self drive required. There is a long drop at the carpark and water is available from the river nearby.

11 km

21 minutes

With Permit



Well marked with orange triangles to Fishtail Hut, from the hut there are occasional cairns but self navigation is required.


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

Water available at the start and along the first 3.5km from the river, after the river crossing at the bottom of the climb there is no water until you reach the hut, in high summer the hut tank may be empty.

In winter and spring, snow and ice will be present in various amounts, apline skills essential due to risk of avalanche and or potential icy slopes.
Not advisable in high winds at any time of the year as very exposed on the ridge.

Many rocks and roots, with slippery pine needles underfoot, extremely steep and hazardous if wet or rainy. One river crossing is unbridged and could be impassible due to rain. The track crosses a large slip near the hut, potential for falling in bad weather or poor visibility is high.

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