My Favourite Walk: Pine Valley Walk a cool walk in Mt Richmond Forest Park
Another hot, humid day and t he t hought of a damp shady forest entices me to make a quick decision. My friend and I are off to Pine Valley in Mt Richmond Forest Park.
The plan for the day is to take our time and stroll to the base of the ridge leading up to Mount Fishtail.
The track follows the Pine Valley stream and is about a seventy-minute walk one way, but today time is irrelevant, we just want to be out and about in the cool of the forest.
Pine Valley is 35 kms from Blenheim and to get there you drive towards Nelson and turn left just after the Wairau River Bridge into Northbank Road. It’s another 25 kms to the clearly signed turn-off to the car park.
From the carpark, we follow the track to Mill Flat and wind our way above the stream through a small patch of sweet-smelling pine forest and scattered natives.
There is a good viewpoint for taking photos of Mt Fishtail along the way before arriving at the swing bridge.
Mill flat is a large open grassy area surrounded by beech forest and is a designated Department of Conservation Campsite. You can take a 4WD there if you are prepared to ford the creek at the carpark.
After crossing the swing bridge, we Above left: The turn- off to Pine Valley from Northbank Road. Middle left: The swing bridge near Mill Flat. Below left: East going on this part of the walk. Below right: Pine Valley Stream.
enter a cool, shaded forest. The track is wide and littered with many years of decomposed leaves making it soft underfoot.
Five finger, coprosma, lancewood, rimu and other broadleaves intermingle with mixed beech forest.
Another twenty minutes of walking and we arrive at a small clearing where the old Pine Valley hut site used to be. Regrettably, in 2014 it burnt down.
Entering a gap into the forest the track continues alongside the stream, here and there sunlight filters through the trees, highlighting shapes and different shades of green.
It’s too perfect to keep walking, and I stop for a moment to take some photos of a miniature moss garden. Nearby a fantail flits about catching insects I’ve stirred up, sadly, it’s the only forest bird I see or hear for the day.
As we get closer to the ridge leading up to Mt Fishtail the track narrows and a few rocky watercourses cross our path needing extra care after the previous week’s rain. Nothing too hard, but a little slippery underfoot.
Eventually, we arrive at the stream crossing which leads over to the ridge and the five-hour ascent to Mt Fishtails summit. Stopping for our lunch, we nestle against some rocks looking at the first two steep zig-zags of the track leading up the ridge.
Last time I snaked my way down from Mt Fishtail, it felt like shattered shards of glass in my kneecaps. It was long and relentless. For now, I am quite content to relax by the stream under the overhanging canopy before wandering back along the track.
Mt Richmond Forest Park lies between Nelson and Marlborough and is the second largest forest park in New Above: Stopping to have a break and enjoy the cool bush conditions. Below right The beech forest further up the valley. Zealand. The highest Peak is Mt Richmond at 1,760 metres. Mount Fishtail is 1,641 metres. There are several short walks up the different valleys from Northbank Road and longer multiday walks into the heart and top of the ranges. The Pine Valley walk is a good example of a lowland-podocarp-beech forest.