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Murderous Mangatapu, Nelson

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Murderous MangatapuBeginner - Intermediate

Submitted by Steve Beatson

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Trail Information





Tasman and Nelson


Front country - easily accessible


Very hilly

Native bush
Open tussock/grasslands

Beginner - Intermediate

12:00 (Slow)
9:00 (Moderate)
7:30 (Fast)



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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 Mangatapu Road to Mangatapu Saddle. The sign says 12km, but it is 7.5km to the saddle. 4.5km up the road is the site of the Mangatapu 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.

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Features of interest

Nelson mineral belt - ultramafic rock with sparse & stunted vegetation. Passes the site of the infamous Mangatapu murders - http://www.theprow.org.nz/events/maungatapu-murders/. Beautiful Pelorus River - on a hot day plenty of great swimming holes.

Make Up of Run

Technical Single Track: 7%

Moderate Single Track: 30%

Easy Single Track: 25%

Farm Road / 4WD Track: 30%

Gravel Road: 8%

Route Data


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Overlapping Runs

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

Dun Mountain Traverse

Dun Mountain Traverse

Length: 41.00km

Maitai Cave Track

Maitai Cave Track

Length: 11.00km


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Wild Explorers

I did it!
  • Access

    Travel up Maitai Valley Road to end, approximately 13km from Nelson CBD.

    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



  • Staying Safe


    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 Mangatapu 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 Mangatapu) 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.

  • Post run indulgence

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

  • Blog Posts and Articles
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