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Arthur Range

Tops traverse from Mount Arthur to Wangapeka track via Twins and Mount Sodom and Gomorrah.

Id wanted to do this walk for years, not only to investigate the horribly named Mountains Sodom and Gomorrah, but because the entire range is visible from Nelson. Wandering down the ridge I enjoyed fantastic views to the west, over the entire central section of Kahurangi, the Karamea river and out to the Tasman sea; and to the east across Tasman Bay and hinterland.

A 10-pack of keas accompanied me, along with native falcons. Dracophyllum and silver astelia provided color, while the weather was fine and windy.


Day 1
The previous day, and the evening before that, I had been driven back to the hut by howling wind and driven sleet. Luckily the wind dropped and clouds lifted for the few hours up the slopes of Mt Arthur. Then the clouds lowered once more so I couldn’t follow the ridge towards the Twins, instead dropping into Ellis Basin to stay in the nice hut. Something wasnt right- the weight of my pack! I has packed too much food, enough for a 12 day mega-mission, and my knees were complaining!

Day 2
Bright blue skies! I climbed
the steep slopes towards the Twins, distinctive 1800m peaks. Clambering through a band of sharp karst limestone, I found the rock-climbing route to the top of north twin, and a neat goat track along a ledge to get between the two peaks. Super views as mist swirled to the west. Sidled below south Twin then climbed it too, before carrying on south enjoying the views. A long afternoon saw me reach Flanagans Hut in the baton Valley on dark.


Day 3
The ridgeline continued southwards, a sharp ridge with some tricky rock outcrops. On the map the route looks easy but the ridge does involve a lot of up and down, it is slow going, following goat trails through tussock, snowgrass and dracophyllum. Clouds lowered and I considered wimping out and dropping into the Crow river, but carried on with compass and map before camp at Hough saddle. A pack of 10 keas accompanied me, and falcons soared in the wind. Silvery astelia, sharp aciyphylla and purple dracophyllum provided botanical pleasure.


Day 4
Once again the cloud dropped after lunch. Luckily by then I had climbed the unfortunately named Mt Sodom, perhaps so-called because the south side is so warped. Soon I reached the 1963 vintage John Reid hut. It was only 2.30 but time to light the fire!


Day 5
What luck! I pulled the plug on my epic trip, as cloud had become rain. Hooning down steep Chummies track, I emerged onto the Wangapeka Road, expecting a 27km walk to Tapawera. Instead I hitched a ride to Nelson and was back home in a jiffy to look at my photos and see the crap weather forecast on TV. Great trip, Ill be back to climb mt Patriarch and Luna another time.


Comment from Markus Baumann
Time: May 17, 2008, 11:46 pm

Hi Tristan, wow, what a trip! I read your report with great interest as I’ve considered traversing the Arthur Range in the past. I’ve tramped over the Baton Saddle and can imagine what sort of terrain you encountered along that ridge.

A few years ago I stayed at John Reid Hut, climbed Mt Patriarch and Mt Luna, all well worth the effort!

Looking forward to your future trip reports. In the meantime, happy tramping!

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