Submitted by Mal Law
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Back country - remote
Undulating, some big hills
Native bushOpen tussock/grasslandsOpen ridges/tops
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From the car park follow the signs for Flora Hut, which is just about 2k away on a broad piece of single track. Beyond this historic hut the trail narrows and runs close to Flora Stream through beautiful native bush.
Check out the incredible Gridiron Rock Shelter and continue on sublime single track for another couple of kms before turning left following signs to Salisbury Lodge. The trail now starts to climb through more stunning bush and then breaks out on to the tussock lands at the fringe of the Tablelands. Salisbury Lodge is not much farther along - a good place to top up on water supplies.
From Salisbury Lodge follow the signs for Balloon Hut - a gradual climb over open tussock lands with superb views starting to open up. Beyond Balloon Hut these views just get better and better as the steady climb continues.
From the high point of the run follow the poled route down technical single track to Lake Peel, nestled in its high alpine tarn setting. Beyond this stunning lake the trail climbs gradually to join a ridge. Ignore the signs for Cobb Reservoir and instead follow the poled route along and down the ridge, eventually picking up a marked trail through the bush.
At the intersection with the Bullock Track turn right. After a short way this drops towards the Takaka River. Turn right to cross the river and right again on to the Upper Takaka Track. Within 3k you reach Upper Junction and turn right to retrace your outward steps up a long gradual climb back to the Flora Saddle car park.
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Features of interest
Some of the most beautiful native bush single track in the country and the jewel of an alpine lake that is Lake Peel.
Gridiron Rock shelters - the best bivvy in the land!
This route traverses the Tablelands and has stunning panoramic views once clear of the bush.
Make Up of Run
Untracked / Route only: 10%
Technical Single Track: 20%
Moderate Single Track: 45%
Easy Single Track: 25%
Flora Saddle. From Motueka head south on the Motueka Valley Highway and cross the river at Ngatimoti. At the next junction turn left on Motueka River West Bank Road and follow this until it turns into Graham Valley Rd. After about 3k bear left (signposted Flora Saddle/Mt. Arthur) and travel uphill to the DoC car park at the road end. The last bit of this access is steep gravel road - it can be travelled in a 2WD but 4WD is preferable, especially if wet.
Plenty of parking, toilet and information board/shelter at the DoC car park
Travel in the bush is well signposted but much of the open tops are a poled route only. Keep an eye on the map and the poles to avoid taking a wrong turn.
Short-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Gloves, Beanie/thermal headwear, Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival blanket, Cellphone, Compass, Map, Crampons / microspikes (for winter conditions).
The first good water is at Salisbury Lodge and there is also water at Balloon Hut (just off the track.) The stream flowing out of Lake Peel is a good source of pure mountain water and thereafter there are plenty of clean creeks and streams to top up from.
The bush trails can be very muddy in winter or after heavy rain. Snow and ice can be encountered on the tops pretty much any time of the year.
Exposed tops that can be challenging and miserable in bad weather - go prepared!
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