Last Updated: 9th Nov 2023

Beginner - Intermediate

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Murderous Maungatapu

Nelson, Nelson

Submitted by Steve Beatson

Last Updated: 9th Nov 2023

Beginner - Intermediate

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I've done it Done


Grunt Factor: 80 ?

Gnarl Factor: 31 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Front country - easily accessible


Very hilly

Native bush


Open tussock/grasslands

Run Makeup


Gravel Road

Farm Road / 4WD Track

Easy Single Track

Moderate Single Track

Technical Single Track

Average Uphill Gradient: +13.3%

Average Downhill Gradient: -13.3%


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Estimated Times to Run







A relatively non-technical big day out - provided you are ready for how long it might take, this run is an opportunity for a relative beginner to achieve a big loop through a range of country.

From carpark run approximately 300 metres, then cross river over a small footbridge, up a small rise and then turn left (not right, this will take you back to Nelson) to follow Coppermine Trail all the way to Coppermine Saddle, approximately 10km away. There are several tracks going off in various directions - ignore these and keep following the signs for the Coppermine Trail.

The first 5km are relatively gentle, the net 5km steeper but runnable if you are keen. At Coppermine Saddle, take the track to Dun Saddle (past the toilet), a further 1km on. From here take the track to Rocks Hut (km 13.5), then descend to Middy Hut (km 18.5) where you meet the Pelorus River for the first time.

The next 12.5km to the road end (km 31) are undulating and moderately technical in places, passing Captains Creek Hut at km 23.5. From the Pelorus road-end, run down Pelorus Valley Road for 2km, before beginning the climb up the 4WD Maungatapu Road to Maungatapu Saddle. The sign says 12km, but it is 7.5km to the saddle. 4.5km up the road is the site of the Maungatapu Murders (where in 1866 the Burgess gang murdered 5 people travelling from the Wakamarina Goldfields to Nelson).

After the saddle, it is 8km down to the Maitai Dam and back to your car.

Nelson mineral belt - ultramafic rock with sparse & stunted vegetation. Passes the site of the infamous Maungatapu murders - Beautiful Pelorus River - on a hot day plenty of great swimming holes.

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.

No public transport available. Car parking area just before Dam itself. Suggest parking here as gate to Dam area is only open during the day. You don't want to be late back and find your car is locked in.

18 km

30 minutes




Relatively straight forward route to follow on well marked tracks -
1) Maitai Dam to Coppermine Saddle
2) Coppermine Saddle to Rocks Hut via Dun Saddle
3) Rocks Hut to Middy Hut
4) Middy Hut to Pelorus Road end via Captains Creek Hut
5) Pelorus Road end to Maitai Dam via Maungatapu Road & Saddle.

Very patchy.

Thermal leggings, Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Gloves, Beanie/thermal headwear, Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Cellphone, Map

Water available at the three huts and from the Pelorus River - untreated, so as always filter/treat water if you prefer.

The three saddles (Coppermine, Dun and Maungatapu) are all exposed and can be cold and windy at any time of year, so be prepared for these conditions.
Pelorus River has swing bridges, but there are a number of side streams that can be hazardous in heavy rain.

Wasps in beach forest in Pelorus Valley during summer.

Prince Albert
113 Nile Street, Nelson
Nice outdoor area (so the other patrons are less likely to smell you have been running all day!)

Trail Legend

Mark Hebberd

Mark Hebberd

has completed Murderous Maungatapu 3 times in the last year.

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Trail Reviews

thank you for another great day out Steve

Mark Hebberd

December 11, 2022

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