Leslie Karamea Wangapeka UltraVery Experienced
Submitted by George Mitchell
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Back country - remote
Point to Point (one way)
Native bushRiversideOpen ridges/topsOther
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This is a bizarre ultra and only for the serious. Definitely for very experienced, well equipped runners and expect anything as you travel through this wilderness.
WEATHER IS CRITICAL, check the forecast and also check recent west coast rain as this is an area that gets a tremendous amount of it.
A very pre-dawn start at Flora gets you some good runnable country under your belt before the sun comes up, daybreak on the tablelands is quite cool, neat spot on top of the world. Here's how it goes:
Mt Arthur Section
- Flora Carpark to Flora Hut - easy section of track, very runnable.
- Flora Hut to Salisbury Hut - steady climb up to Salisbury and the tablelands. Runnable
- Salisbury Hut to Karamea Bend Hut - big drop off Tablelands and down to the bend. Cool rock shelter on the way. Subject to windfalls, generally runnable
Karamea Valley Section
- Karamea Bend Hut to Crow Hut - undulating, up and down following Karamea river, take the track as you find it
- Crow Hut to Venus Hut - undulating, up and down following Karamea river, take the track as you find it
- Venus Hut to Thor Hut - undulating, up and down following Karamea river, take the track as you find it
- Thor Hut to Trevor Carter Hut - undulating, up and down following Karamea river past slips and a lake, take the track as you find it
- Trevor Carter Hut to Helicopter Hut - good grunt up lost valley and then nice drop through trees to helicopter hut. Cross river to hut.
Wangapeka track section
- Helicopter Hut to Stone Hut - climb up to Wangapeka Saddle, then drop steeply off saddle and down valley to Stone Hut
- Stone Hut to Kings Creek Hut - follow river down valley to Kings Creek Hut,
- Kings Creek Hut to Rolling River Hut - track improves every km closer to end, runnable if there is anything left in the tank.
There is a payphone at Rolling River, lie down and let the sandflies eat you until your driver collects you and takes you to the nearest town at Tapawera.
Features of interest
Incredible earthquake torn valley as you travel up the Karamea River. Most of the huts are upgraded but there is some New Zealand Forest Service huts like Thor Hut, the last remaining NZ Forest Service hut in the Upper Karamea. Evidence of gold mining and huts can be seen on the Wangapeka section.
Make Up of Run
Untracked / Route only: 10%
Technical Single Track: 50%
Moderate Single Track: 30%
Easy Single Track: 10%
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
Flora car park is 75 km from Nelson and 36 km from Motueka.
The Motueka Valley Highway links Nelson and Motueka. Turn off this road at Ngatimoti and cross the Motueka River. Turn left onto Motueka River West Bank Road, then right into Graham Valley Road, which climbs steeply to the car park. The last 5.8 km is unsealed and turning a vehicle on the road can be difficult. 4WD is recommended at all times of the year.
Carpark for maybe 20 cars, often quite full. Graham Valley Road is frequently shut with slips so check before travelling.
Watch out for where the track changes, in particular getting the right track from the Salisbury hut into the Leslie valley and then navigating lost valley onto the Whangapeka track at Helicopter Hut. Apart from that its a very consistent "follow your nose" for a long long time!
Thermal leggings, 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, Compass, Map, Headtorch and spare batteries, Gaiters.
Once you are in the Karamea Valley water is no problem, rivers are incredible. The first section from Flora and the Tablelands are dry.
This is a recommended 9 day track and not used a lot, slightly more people traffic on the Flora end and Wangapeka end but still very remote. Best done in a good window of weather in mid summer and expect to spend time using headlights either end.
This track is serious wilderness, do not attempt to run if there has been any west coast rain for a few days prior as the rivers can be huge and the mud / track is extreme. Expect to spend a lot of time picking your way through rough spots. If you end up doing it in the dark at either end, make sure you have a running partner and you spend time on the river crossings finding the track markers before you move on. Do not underestimate.
Post run indulgence
Four Square Tapawera
92 Main Rd Tapawera, Tapawera 7055
Has everything you might or might not need after a run like this, except a shower and bed
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See other runs nearby:
Mt Arthur Up & Back
Onetahuti Beach to Marahau
Mt Arthur Hut
Canaan Wainui Loop
Salisbury over Arthur
Canaan to Birds Clearing
Mt. Campbell Climb
The Trails of Mot
Takaka Hill Walkway
Mt Arthur - Flora Huts