Speargrass - Robert RidgeIntermediate - Experienced
Submitted by Malcolm Law
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Back country - remote
Native bushRiversideOpen tussock/grasslandsOpen ridges/tops
Intermediate - Experienced
From the car park follow the Speargrass Track as it makes its roots, rocky way through beech forest down to Speargrass Creek, which it follows closely for a short while before climbing away and eventually back down to cross it at about the 6.5k mark. This crossing is made on a footbridge and immediately on the other side turn left, following the sign for the Speargrass - Angelus Route.
You are now on a very sketchy trail heading south. At first it can be quite hard to follow through the bush so keep a sharp eye out for red triangles marking the way. As you get higher and the bush thins it gets easier to follow but the going remains rough and the obvious route is, in places, washed out. There are frequent stream crossings but eventually the poled route leaves the creek bed heading right and uphill towards the Robert Ridge.
Eventually you'll top out on the main ridge and start drinking in the views. Turn left (north) rather than right towards Angelus Hut. the next few kms are spectacular but very technical, involving boulder hopping and requiring a decent head for heights. Eventually though the going eases and the trail starts its steady descent towards the north.
Stay on the ridge all the way past the ski club shelter (don't go right to Bushline Hut) and soon the trail re-enters the beech forest and starts it's zigzagging descent back to the car park. This final 2.5k is the fastest running of the day and is a classic downhill romp - enjoy!
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Features of interest
Stunning views east to the Kaikoura Range and west towards Kahurangi NP from all along the Robert Ridge - one of the truly great ridge runs of the world in my opinion!
Make Up of Run
Untracked / Route only: 30%
Technical Single Track: 40%
Moderate Single Track: 20%
Easy Single Track: 10%
Mt Robert carpark, Nelson Lakes NP - turn off SH63 a couple of kms west of St Arnaud and follow the access road through West Bay, over the source of the Buller River and up the hill to the carpark. The last few kms are gravel but are well maintained and easily accessible in a 2WD vehicle.
Plenty of safe parking & information board and toilets
Much of this run follows a poled route & it pays to keep a sharp eye out for the next marker - could be tricky in poor visibility so map & compass skills are a handy backup.
Lightweight fleece top, 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, Map, Headtorch and spare batteries, Crampons / microspikes (for winter conditions), Gaiters.
Stacks of water available from streams that you cross on the Speargrass Track and up the lower part of Speargrass Creek. But make sure to fill up from the creek before the poled route leaves it and strikes out for Robert Ridge as there is NO more water available past this point and you have a LONG way to go still!
Speargrass Track can be very muddy and slippery after rain.
Robert Ridge is very exposed and in winter conditions can be lethal. If there's snow on the tops (or forecasted) do NOT attempt this route unless you are very experienced with, and equipped for, serious winter conditions.
The first section of the Robert Ridge is gnarly in any conditions - lots of boulder hopping and exposure. Watch your footing and take your time. In winter the whole of the ridge is very exposed with ice & snow making it treachorous.
Post run indulgence
Very convivial bar/restaurant, especially on a cold day when the open fire is roaring. Great food, beer & coffee. Wonderful (and entertaining!) hospitality from your hosts Leighton & Alex. Wonderful place - recommend staying a night or two and exploring the area.
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See other runs nearby:
Rotoiti Loop The Lake
Mt Robert Loop
Angelus Mega Loop
Blue Lake - clearest water on earth
Parachute Rocks and St Arnaud Ridge
St Arnaud Discovery Loops
Angelus East Ridge Circuit
St Arnaud Sampler
Ultra Tour du Nelson Lakes
Robert Ridge to Angelus Hut
No More Beersies