Maungatapu Saddle & Point 1168 – Bryant Range, Mt Richmond Forest Park
Saturday 28 October 2023
Bright and early David collected me, Yumi and Jenny and drove us to the carpark below the Maitai Dam. It was a cold and frosty morning but with the sun shining and the uphill climbing we soon took off our first layer. The mist was still coming off the water in the dam from the early morning sun which made for the first obligatory photo. With the drier weather the dam level was quite low. We then walked up the forestry road to Teal Saddle.
The section starting from the saddle was quite steep and overgrown as it is not an official track but marked with unofficial red lints by one of the Nelson Tramping Club members, and higher up at the zigzags with orange markers dating back years ago with 37 numbers so we could track our progress. This section was not very difficult but muddy and overgrown in places. To our surprise we saw an icicle quite a way up the track. It was still quite cold in the forest.
After four hours we arrived at Point 1168, where we had our well-deserved lunch and a decision was made to see if we could make it to Saddle Hill and back in two hours. The descent towards Saddle Hill was quite steep with some sidling below some impressive rock formations. Since after an hour we’d only gone about halfway, we decided to turn back.
David had read about some lakes in the area from doing his homework. Although there were no actual lakes we did come across several grassy and mossy areas in large dips which probably used to be lakes in the past. The scenery gave it quite a unique eerie feel. Going down to Maungatapu Saddle was a better formed track but quite steep for a while and certainly tested our knees. From here it was all the way back on the gravel road to the dam.
And after ten hours (and a total of over 1450 meters in height gain) our legs and brains had started to protest so we were happy to get in the car and drive home.
The group was Arif (scribe), David S (leader), Yumi and Jenny